SCARBOROUGH — Matt Caron skated for a loose puck on the penalty kill, and seconds later the Scarborough High boys’ hockey season looked in trouble.

“A guy came and just hit me awkwardly on the side and I broke my collarbone,” Caron said.

It was the opener against Thornton Academy and as Caron went down, so did the Red Storm’s hopes.

This was a young team that had lost a lot of its scoring power from last winter. And now Caron was gone.

“I thought I was done for the season,” Caron said.

But to Scarborough’s delight, Caron came back, and his presence is a huge reason why the Red Storm have reached their first Class A state championship game – against St. Dominic at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

“Having Matt back has made all the difference in the world,” said Coach Norm Gagne.

Caron, a junior forward, returned Feb. 7, playing only on power plays. On his second shift, he scored his team’s only goal in a 1-1 tie with Cheverus.

Caron didn’t play a full game until the final regular-season game. In the playoffs, Caron has four goals and two assists.

“It’s been amazing,” said linemate Sean McGovern. “He brings a lot of energy and offense. He sees the ice so well.”

McGovern and Caron have fed each other in the postseason. Both of Caron’s assists have been on McGovern goals.

Like Caron, McGovern can skate quickly down the ice and displays a nice shot. McGovern first played with Caron on a squirts teams in Huskies Youth Hockey.

“With him and Sean together, it makes a big, big difference. They both are quick and have speed,” Gagne said. “If you only have one guy with speed, he has no one to pass to.

“Having Matt back has helped our confidence as a team. We’ve been able to match our lines a lot better now, so we’ve got some balance.”

Scarborough’s top line, featuring Caron, McGovern and Cam Nigro, will be going against a St. Dom’s lineup highlighted by two Travis Roy Award semifinalists, Brad Berube and Caleb Labrie.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Caron said. “Their top line is very good. Our line has been clicking lately, so it will be a good matchup to see how we do against them.”

Both Caron and Berube were injured when the teams met Dec. 10 – a 2-1 St. Dom’s win. But Berube came back after that game, while Caron sat out two more months. He stood by and watched his young teammates come together.

“We had a lot of kids who needed to step up and they did just that,” Caron said. “And our goalie (Ben Bragg) really has kept us in a lot of games. Even when we’ve played badly, we came out with a victory because of him.”

Caron watched when his team was upset by Portland/Deering 4-3 in early January, then upset previously unbeaten Falmouth 3-1 a week later.

“When we beat Falmouth the first time, we knew we could beat anyone,” Caron said. “At the same time we lost to Portland, so we realized we could lose to anyone.”

Scarborough’s defense kept improving. The Red Storm allowed no more than one goal in each of their last five regular-season games, including another win over Falmouth (2-1).

By the playoffs, Caron had enough endurance to make a difference – and he has.

He scored the first goal in Scarborough’s regional quarterfinal win over Biddeford (3-2). He had three points in a 5-4 semifinal victory over Falmouth, and then scored the first two goals Tuesday against Cheverus in the regional championship game, a 5-2 victory (which included two empty-netters).

“Not only is he the leader, he’s a standout,” Gagne said. “The minute you see him, you go whoa.”