BIDDEFORD — After 47 minutes of scoreless hockey Tuesday night, this much was clear to the Biddeford girls’ team:
It was going to take a group effort to get the puck past Maddy Hamblen of Gorham/Bonny Eagle.
So when Brea Rivard sent a shot on goal, the Tigers frantically swarmed to the crease and started digging at the puck laying beneath Hamblen’s arm.
Abbie Paquette found it and deposited it into the net 2:09 into overtime to earn Biddeford a 1-0 victory in the West playoff game at Biddeford Ice Arena.
Biddeford (13-6) advanced to play No. 2 seed Falmouth. Gorham/Bonny Eagle (7-12) made its first postseason appearance.
“I pulled it out from under her and lifted it over and stuffed it in there,” Paquette said. “It was visual the whole time so I didn’t believe they were going to blow the whistle.”
It was the 38th shot on goal for Biddeford, which was consistently foiled by Hamblen. She darted side to side in the net to block several chances that appeared certain to go in.
Cassie Ellis of Biddeford saw only 17 shots but many came on breakaways. Ellis was quick with her glove when she needed to be.
The goaltending put nerves on edge on the ice and in the stands.
“I could feel my heart beating a little faster every time they came down in the zone,” Paquette said. “But I knew I had to keep skating hard.”
Biddeford Coach Ashley Potvin kept exhorting her team, telling them:
“We’re going to get paid. Payday is going to happen. The puck will go in eventually.”
The Tigers heard the words and heeded her advice to keep their feet moving.
But Hamblen proved harder to convince.
“We saw how much momentum we had. We were keeping it down in their end,” Potvin said. “They were passing the puck well. They were moving the puck well. And it just seemed like for whatever reason we couldn’t get one to go in the back of the net. But we definitely felt like we controlled the game.”
Ellis also felt her team was in control, but that didn’t stop the tension from rising, especially whenever Charlotte Smith of Gorham/Bonny Eagle gathered the puck at center ice and came rushing toward her.
Smith was constantly circling in the neutral zone waiting for her chance. Potvin said the Tigers knew that was going to be a tactic for Gorham/Bonny Eagle and tried to keep players like Dalani Roy back to deal with Smith. But still, there were times when Smith proved too fast.
Then it turned into Ellis’ problem.
“I just had to keep my mind on the game and think about stopping all the shots I can, moving fast, coming out when I needed to,” Ellis said.
“A 0-0 game is very scary.”
The only time the players left the ice was between the second and third periods. Paquette used that time to daydream.
“I actually visualized myself being persistent in front of the net and scoring the winning goal,” she said. “And I just tried my hardest to stuff it in the net so we could win.”
Finally, reality caught up to her imagination. And Paquette didn’t quite know how to celebrate.
“I just screamed. I was so happy,” she said. “I was overcome with joy and I didn’t know what else to think other than to hug my teammates.”
Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.