GORHAM — It was a matchup of the best girls’ hockey teams from the west and the east. It was also a feeling-out process Monday afternoon when St. Dominic Academy played Scarborough High at the University of Southern Maine arena.

In what could be the first of three games between the teams, St. Dom’s beat the Red Storm 3-2 on a Lauren Ratsep goal with 68 seconds left in regulation.

“I had no idea it was going to be that close,” Ratsep said. “That was a wake-up call.”

It’s not that Scarborough’s success has been a surprise. The Red Storm (11-2-2) had a 13-game unbeaten streak.

It’s just that St. Dom’s (13-1) is so good. The Saints’ one loss came when all of their top players were away during Christmas break. St. Dom’s had scored at least five goals in every other game, and it had only one close encounter, a 6-5 win over Greely in early December.

“Greely was close, but this was more intense,” said St. Dom’s All-State defenseman Sophie Goulet. “They really stepped up their game. It kind of shocked us.”

What the Red Storm did was skate with the Saints, neutralize their best players and, when all else failed, rely on freshman goalie Devan Kane. She covered both sides of the net with quickness and grit, making 32 saves.

“She was amazing,” Goulet said.

When St. Dom’s All-State forward Marisa Zamrock whistled a shot into the top right corner at 3:40 of the first period, it looked like the beginning of another romp for the Saints.

But Kane stopped Zamrock often after that, including a breakaway.

Kane had help, as defensemen Abby Rutt, Spencer Shoebottom, Riley Mc-Keown and Sam Nablo often deflected chances.

Offensively, the Red Storm showed signs of breaking out of their recent malaise, having scored just three goals during regulation in their last three games. Rachel Wallace, Sarah Martens and Kristina Block created chances.

“Overall, we skated with them and we worked really hard,” Scarborough Coach Caitlin Cashman said. “I think we were in a little bit of a slump the past few games. This kind of amped it up, and the girls are back in the swing of things, playing the way they usually play.”

The Red Storm were out-shot 35-21 but were often able to pressure St. Dom’s.

Scarborough tied the game at 5:35 of the first period when Wallace knocked in the rebound of a Nablo shot.

Scarborough outshot the Saints 11-6 in the first period, but St. Dom’s dominated from there, 29-10.

“We had a hard time adjusting to the big surface,” St. Dom’s Coach Don Boucher said of USM’s Olympic-sized rink. “It just messed up our whole system.

“But they played well. They are the best team we’ve played, by far.”

St. Dom’s is loaded. Not only do they have Goulet and Zamrock, but also Ratsep, a transfer from Hebron Academy, and another strong forward in Kayla McLellan.

McLellan, left alone on the far side of the crease, scored 25 seconds into the second period, burying a backhand pass from Ratsep.

Rutt tied it with one of her signature drives to the net, skating to the left, then right, across the crease, shooting past the goalie’s sliding pads, at 13:31 of the second period.

In the third period, Scarbor-ough couldn’t capitalize on a five-on-three advantage for 30 seconds.

Ratsep’s goal came when she passed from the left circle into a crowd in the crease. The puck bounced back to her and she fired it in.

The two teams meet again in the regular-season finale, Feb. 5 in Lewiston. Then there’s a potential matchup for the state title on Feb. 19.

“Hopefully, we’ll play two more times,” Cashman said. 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]