LEWISTON — A potent offense and a steady defense have added up to success this season for the Lewiston boys’ hockey team.
Saturday night, Falmouth changed that equation.
The Yachtsmen won their first Class A state title with a 4-0 win over the Blue Devils at a packed Colisee.
Falmouth seized control of the game and built an early lead with a goal. The Yachtsmen then broke the game open with a pair of quick tallies in the third.
It is the sixth straight loss for Lewiston in the state game after winning in 2002.
“We got outplayed,” said Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau. “It’s as simple as that. It’s tough. I’m proud of our kids. It’s disappointing. We were on a roll. We’ll learn from this as a program and hopefully get better.”
Falmouth earned the victory by shutting down the Lewiston offense and putting pressure on the Blue Devil defense. The two strengths of the Lewiston playoff run were effectively challenged by Falmouth’s strong play.
“We wanted to set the tone and get the puck in deep and get a lot of shots on net and generate our offense from there,” said junior forward Andre Clement. “We’ve played a lot of games here, and it’s always been sort of a second home rink. The key was to just get the puck deep in all situations. If we didn’t have something we’d get it deep. That’s how we generated our offense.”
Clement had a pair of goals, both in the third period. Andrew Emple had the first tally and Isaac Nordstrom added an empty-netter at the end.
“They did what we expected,” said Belleau. “I take my hat off to their team. I’ve been telling our boys all week that they’re really strong defensively and that we’re going to really have to do something to generate offense. That’s what they did. I think people overlooked how good they are defensively.”
Lewiston entered the game having scored 24 goals in the three tourney games, including nine total between the three first periods. Falmouth held the Blue Devils to just 17 shots as junior goalie Dane Pauls posted the shutout.
“That was our game plan the entire playoffs, take away scoring opportunities as often as we can and capitalize when we get the chance,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton.
Barton had said coming into the game that playing a solid game of possession hockey would allow his team to dictate play and keep Lewiston from mounting the kind of consistent scoring attack it had done in previous games.
“It’s a matter of playing positions and expecting they’re going to come hard,” said Barton. “We got comfortable with it and were able to handle the puck under pressure. We practice that all week.”
Both teams skated hard and created some chances early. The shots were 3-3 as the teams got settled in. As the opening period went on, Falmouth began to establish itself.
“We knew we were going to have to fend them off for at least half the period,” said Barton. “They lost their wind a little bit and dodged a couple of bullets at the end.”
Falmouth took the lead with 3:55 left in the first. The Yachtsmen had Lewiston hemmed in and the Blue Devils couldn’t get a line change or get the puck cleared. It led to Kris Samaras maneuvering around behind the net and setting up Emple for a wrister to the top of the net.
After being outshot 8-3 in the first, Lewiston picked up the pace in the second and started getting better shots.
Matt Poulin had a bid in close that went wide. Patrick Deblois and Bryan Hall created a nice rush, but a centering pass by Deblois couldn’t get put on net. Kyle Lemelin had a shot that Poulin tried to redirect in front. Evan Gosselin had a shot at the right post that Pauls made the stop on.
“They did a good job shutting us down,” said Belleau. “No excuses about it. Even when we generated offense, a lot of the shots were from the outside. You’ve got to give them the credit.”
Despite failing to finish in the second, Lewiston had played a little stronger and had built some momentum. The Blue Devils still went into the third well within reach.
That optimism changed in a hurry. Falmouth got a Clement goal just 44 seconds into the third and added another at 4:35.
“We made some adjustment in the second period,” said Belleau. “It was disappointing not scoring a goal. We beat them in the second period, and we were down a goal going into the third. Then they scored a quick one on a bounce. That kind of took the wind out of our sails. After that second goal, it changed the dynamic of the game.”
The second goal came off a face-off at the right circle. Lewiston goalie Evan Bourassa, who finished with 17 saves, made an initial stop but couldn’t control or clear the puck. A scramble ensued and Clement was there to pop in the rebound.
“I was in the right spot,” said Clement. “I pulled it back and tried to jam it into the crease. I got lucky. I think it hit off his pad or off someone’s skate.”
Then Falmouth caught Lewiston up ice. A Jack Pike pass in the neutral zone sprung Clement for a breakaway. He initially lost the touch of the puck but still managed to get a touch on it.
“I sort of fumbled it, and I ended up pulling it to my forehand and just shoved it into the far post,” Clement said. “I got lucky on that one too. It just barely went in.”
Lewiston called a timeout late in the period and tried to generate a rally, but Nordstrom finished things off into an empty net with 2:22 left.
“We let down in the second period,” said Barton. “We came into the room after the period, and I didn’t say a thing. They knew exactly how to fix it. We came out and tried to get the puck deep and good things happened.”