LEWISTON — Derek Fournier never blinked, not when he surrendered a goal just 21 seconds after the opening puck drop and not when fending off a late two-man advantage for Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth with their own goalie pulled.
The Bangor High School netminder made 24 saves, including a key point-blank stop early in the third period, leading the No. 2 Rams to a 2-1 win over No. 3 Cony in the Class A North semifinals on Saturday afternoon at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Cony’s first shot of the day beat Fournier, but none the Rams’ further attempts did as Bangor advanced to Tuesday’s regional final for the first time under head coach Quinn Paradis.
“Sometimes I like to top the other goalie. If he’s making big saves at the other end, I like to try to top it — or match it, at least,” Fournier said. “Whenever a goalie is making big saves, it just fires me up to do even better on my end.”
Fournier did just that. At the opposite end of the Colisee, Cony’s Dalton Bowie (19 saves) was instrumental in holding back some key Bangor pressure in the first period and again on a power play early in the third, when he turned away a dangerous Kodi Legassie bid.
But Fournier, his team clinging to a one-goal lead, saved his best save of the night for the 2:30 mark of the final period — turning away Logan Leadbetter’s point drive and then acrobatically recovering to keep Cam Wilson from tying the game on the rebound chance.
“I’ve played with Derek for a long time (on the Maine Moose junior team), and we know how good he is,” Wilson said. “I think we were taking a little too much time trying to make ‘good’ plays because we were worried about the goaltending.”
“Their goalie played really well. He made some great saves,” Cony coach Chad Foye said of Fournier. “We had chances that were the chances we wanted, where we were going to the net well and getting shots away, but he’s good. He came up with a couple of second and third saves that make you wonder a little bit.”
It was a far cry from the opening minute of the game, when Nate Foye’s slapper from the right point pinballed off a pile of bodies in front and landed on the stick of Wilson, who had an easy tap-in chance at the left post for an early 1-0 Cony lead.
Bangor (12-7-0), and most of all Fournier, never panicked.
“It was a crazy bounce off our defenseman right to (Wilson’s) stick. I didn’t have many worries about it after,” Fournier said “It was just that we had to try and get back into the game really quick.”
Bangor tied the game at the midway point of the opening stanza, when Legassie scored a goal similar to Wilson’s. Jacob Muroe’s shot caromed awkwardly in the traffic in front of Bowie, squirting free to Legassie to wrist home.
The go-ahead goal was a backbreaker for Cony, with a poor clearing pass intercepted at the attacking blue line. Nick Cowperthwaite whacked home a knuckling shot just 50 seconds into the middle period that seemed to fool Bowie.
From there, Fournier took over.
“Derek stood on his head. That was probably the difference maker in the game, was our goaltender,” Paradis said. “It proves why he’s a senior and he’s gotten us to these games every year. You’ve really got to look at him. He carried us through those low moments and got us through it.”
Cony (14-6-0) couldn’t covert on either of its power plays in the final period, including a 6-on-4 advantage for the final 1:08 of regulation with Bowie pulled for an extra attacker. Like most of the period, the Rams enjoyed possession of the puck in the Bangor zone but couldn’t get enough traffic or bodies in front of Fournier to make his life more difficult.
“I try and keep the same mindset every game, but I knew for a fact that this was going to be a close game,” Fournier said. “I thought we did a really good job of clearing guys out in front of me so I could see the puck from the blue line. They have some pretty big boys on that team.”
Travis Barrett — 621-5621