LEWISTON – His Thornton Academy hockey players were whooping it up as they returned to their locker room at the Colisee Tuesday night.

Trojans Coach Shawn Rousseau was following them when reporters asked to speak to him.

He held up an index finger to the media. Rousseau would be with them soon. First, he had to deliver a few words to his team.

“We’re not done.”

Thornton (16-5), conquerors of previously unbeaten Biddeford on Tuesday, still has one game to play — today — for the Class A state championship.

The Trojans take on powerful Lewiston (18-1-2) at 6 p.m. at the Colisee.

Lewiston, a team steeped in tradition, will be gunning for its 21st state title, its first since 2002. Since then, the Blue Devils have lost five state championship games.

This is new territory for the Trojans, having never reached the state title game. Other teams, especially Biddeford, have been in Thornton’s way. The Trojans ended that trend Tuesday.

But after that emotional 4-3 win over the Tigers for the Western Class A title, can Thornton avoid a letdown?

“That was why I said I needed a minute with the boys,” Rousseau said about Tuesday night. “The message was that this feels good, congratulations. But this is not our goal.

“This is the next step toward our goal.”

After all the handshakes and hugs, the Thornton players eventually left the locker room and watched Lewiston beat St. Dom’s 4-1 in the Eastern Class A title game.

The Trojans have previously seen the Blue Devils firsthand, losing to Lewiston in the season opener in December (5-0) and then on Jan. 24 (6-3).

“They looked very good,” Rousseau said, “as strong as I’ve seen them all year.

“All three of their lines looked in sync. Their six defensemen looked good. And (Cam) Poussard was doing his thing.

What Poussard, the All-State goalie from Lewiston, does is stop nearly every puck. In 21 games, he has 10 shutouts, six one-goal games and three two-goal games.

Thornton is the only team to score three times against him.

Offensively, the Blue Devils are healthy for the first time in months, with their senior top line of Colt Steel, Sam Cloutier and Ben Wigant intact (all three players were missing during their only loss, a 2-0 decision to Biddeford).

Steel played two years at North Yarmouth Academy and then a season with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.

He said he returned to Lewiston to play a season with his friends.

And he is playing well (47 points), as are Cloutier (46) and Wigant, who played only nine games in the regular season but still recorded 25 points.

The line has accounted for five of Lewiston’s eight playoff goals.

While Lewiston has defeated Thornton twice, Biddeford also topped the Trojans twice during the season.

“If you could imagine a graph, Biddeford got it together early,” said Rousseau, holding his hand up high to signify the Tigers. “They were just excellent.”

Then Rousseau lowered his hand. “And we struggled.

“And sometimes losing games forces you to try new things, put players in different positions. You got to experiment.

“I think that experimentation has been able to bring us to a point where we’ve identified our best.”

Thornton steadily improved and has won its last eight games. The Trojans also avenged a previous loss by beating St. Dom’s 5-0 two weeks ago.

The team has been emphasizing defense and scoring in transition.

All of the Trojans’ goals Tuesday came in transition.

The best at going from end to end is CJ Maksut (26 goals), who Rousseau said “may be our most talented guy.”

Maksut can create his own space with his moves.

But the rest of the Trojans are peaking, including Andrew Carignan, who scored two goals on Tuesday.

“Coach just said to keep putting pucks on net,” Carignan said.

And Thornton’s coach will tell his player they need to do that again – one more time.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]