PORTLAND – Liam Fitzpatrick politely declined the label of hero Wednesday night.
“No one’s really the hero tonight; it’s a team sport,” Fitzpatrick said. “My linemates came to play and they gave me plenty of opportunities, I got them to the net and they happened to go in tonight.”
Fair enough. But hockey does award stars each game to the top three performers. And Wednesday night, one star outshone the rest.
Fitzpatrick scored three goals, including the winner in the second overtime, to lift Cheverus to a 4-3 victory over Thornton Academy in a Western Class A boys’ hockey quarterfinal at the Portland Ice Arena.
“He had a great game but he’s prone to try to beat the defenseman, and then he doesn’t have the shot,” Cheverus Coach Dan Lucas said. “That goal he won the game with, he let it go and bingo.”
The puck whistled between Andrew Huot’s glove and right pad, and pushed the fourth-seeded Stags (13-6) to a semifinal Saturday night against top-ranked Scarborough (18-1) at the Colisee in Lewiston.
“(Scoring the winner) was surreal at the time but it definitely feels good,” Fitzpatrick said. “A game like this shows that if we come to compete for 45 minutes of hockey and keep our heads in it, we can play with anybody.”
Thornton Academy (8-9-1) was the two-time defending state Class A champion.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys and the effort they put forth,” said Coach Jamie Gagnon. “We had our chances, their goaltender played well and they worked their tails off. There wasn’t much difference between the teams and that shows in a double-overtime game. Unfortunately tonight we came out on the losing end.”
Alex Lambert gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead at 2:06 of the first period, finishing off Alex Fallon’s pass from the right circle to beat Jason Blier (38 saves) at the back post.
Fitzpatrick made it 1-1 at 4:50 of the second period, knocking down a pass from Quintin Farr to beat Huot (23 saves).
Skating with a five-on-three power play, Lambert found Stephen Comar at the back post at 14:20 to put the Trojans back in front, 2-1.
At 1:10 of the third, this time with Cheverus enjoying a two-man advantage, Cameron McLain made it 2-2 for the Stags.
About two minutes later, they took a 3-2 lead when Fitzpatrick scored from the top of the left circle.
At 8:32, Justin Cloutier was credited with a goal when the puck beat Blier off a scramble at the goalmouth.
The teams each got off three shots in the first overtime. Thornton got the first three shots on goal in the second overtime. Fitzpatrick made the Stags’ only shot of the period count.
“The goal all year has been to get to the Colisee,” Lucas said. “I really like how we played against Scarborough (in a 5-3 loss Feb. 21) and the kids are excited to play them.
“We’ll give it our best, I can tell you that.”