AUBURN — St. Dominic remained unbeaten and still favored to win its second straight girls’ hockey state title.

But Greely High plans to make it interesting.

St. Dom’s received a rare challenge Thursday night, holding on to beat the Rangers 3-2 at the Norway Savings Bank Arena.

Courtney Sullivan and Emilee McGillicuddy scored for Greely, and Nica Todd made 31 saves, including some spectacular stops on point-blank one-timers.

St. Dominic improved to 17-0 with one game left in the regular season. Greely is 15-2, with both losses to the Saints.

The Saints and Greely have totaled five losses over two seasons – all against each other.

But when St. Dom’s beat Greely 9-2 in the season opener two months ago, the Saints looked unstoppable.

Going into Thursday’s game, St. Dom’s had outscored opponents, 138-12. It had one other close game (1-0 against local rival Edward Little), with the rest routs.

Greely’s Courtney Sullivan and St. Dominic Academy’s Bugsy Hammerton collide while battling for the puck. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

On Thursday the Saints out-shot Greely 18-4 in the first period, taking a 2-0 lead.

“They came out flying and we came out flatter than we should have,” Greely Coach Nate Guerin said.

St. Dom’s kept coming for an early 11-2 edge in shots in the second period. It looked like another rout in the making.

“It could have gone that way,” St. Dom’s Coach Paul Gosselin said. “If it wasn’t for Nica it could have been. We had quite a few opportunities where she came up big.”

Busy night, Nica?

“That’s for sure,” Todd said. “I was just focused and trying to think about being efficient. It was a fun game.”

And it was close, thanks to Todd. At 6:33 of the second period, Greely closed to 2-1 when Sullivan rebounded a shot by Ellie Schad. Molly Horton also had an assist.

“We found a way to respond just to keep ourselves in it,” Guerin said.

Two minutes later, St. Dom’s was up 3-1 with its second power-play goal. Emma Theriault slapped a shot inside in the far post, past an obstructed Todd. Avery Lutrzykowski and Kristina Cornelio, who both scored in the first period, assisted on the third goal.

Greely’s defense, led by Schad, Sarah Johnson and Jayme Morrison, tightened, and Todd was spectacular. She stopped one-timers at the end of the period, including a nifty glove save.

Greely’s Ellie Schad tries to get a stick on the puck as Dasha Fons of St. Dominic Academy moves in on defense. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

“I saw it at the last second,” Todd said.

McGillicuddy made it 3-2 with her rebound goal at 1:27 of the third period. Bridget Roberts assisted.

Greely outshot the Saints 7-2 in the third period and had its one power play, but couldn’t tie the game.

“I don’t think we played our best,” Sullivan said. “But in the third period we started playing a lot better. If we play our game, it could be a different outcome.”

The teams will be the top two seeds in the North region and could meet again in the regional final.

The Rangers finish their regular season Saturday against Brunswick.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH