Sunday, April 20, 2014
Matt Poulin didn’t hesitate when faced with the question: Is this Lewiston boys’ hockey team better than last winter’s?
Sami Shoebottom, Scarborough freshman: The Red Storm swept through three games last week with Shoebottom leading the way with eight goals.
Devan Kane, Scarborough senior: Kane has a habit of getting on a roll and she did last week with 38 saves for three shutout victories.
Victoria Lattanzi, Greely freshman: Lattanzi scored three goals in the second period to help Greely to a 5-1 win over Yarmouth/Freeport.
Nica Todd, Greely freshman: After keeping the Rangers in the game against Scarborough with 27 saves, she made 27 more in a win over Yarmouth/Freeport.
AREA TOP FIVE
1. Scarborough 14-0
2. Greely 9-4
3. Yarmouth/Freeport 10-3-1
4. Falmouth 9-5
5. Biddeford 9-5
Andrew Whipple, South Portland junior: How do you improve on a three-goal, four-assist perfor-mance in a victory over West-brook? How about five goals, including the overtime winner, in a 9-8 slugfest against Bonny Eagle?
Bryce Fraser, Kennebunk senior: His pair of second-period goals was pivotal in a 3-2 victory over Cape Elizabeth.
Christian Kroot, Greely senior: The goaltender surrendered just one goal each in victories over Gorham and Leavitt, stopping 30 shots.
Ricky Ruck, Biddeford freshman: He netted his first high school hat trick with a four-goal performance in a victory over Portland-Deering.
AREA TOP FIVE
1. Scarborough 7-2-1
2. Cheverus 6-2-1
3. Falmouth 6-4
4. Thornton Academy 4-3-1
5. Greely 3-5-2
“I think we are,” the senior forward said. “I’ve never seen a team that’s so close. We have the best opportunity to win state this year.”
Poulin was speaking Monday after his Blue Devils held off Scarborough 4-3, a big boost of confidence for a team that was the Class A runner-up a year ago.
But he said his refrain hasn’t changed since that 4-0 loss to Falmouth in the title game.
“I think about it every day,” Poulin said. “What was going through my head every day was, ‘I’m not letting that happen to us again.’ Not only for myself because that’s selfish, but I’d like to reward all my senior teammates and all the kids that are in the program. I think it’s time for Lewiston to get rewarded with a state championship.”
There’s miles to go before that possibility, of course. But the Blue Devils are sitting at 9-2 with perhaps the best line in the state, led by Kyle Lemelin.
He scored the final two goals to foil the Red Storm, and also assisted on Poulin’s short-handed score to give the Blue Devils the early lead.
“It’s kind of a turning point, I think,” Lemelin said of beating Scarborough. “We need to get the wins to take first place for the playoffs.”
Lemelin hesitated when asked if this version of the Blue Devils is better than the last one.
“I think we’re a different team,” he finally allowed. “I think we’re more of a goal-scoring team this year. We’re learning to pass the puck. We’ve been a strong defensive team but we’re stepping it up in the offensive department.”
Lewiston has made a habit of rallying to victories. It trailed St. Dom’s twice by a pair of goals before pulling out an overtime win. It came from two goals down to beat Edward Little.
And Monday, it controlled much of the game but watched Scarborough tie the score twice in the final period before Lemelin’s final goal with 37 seconds left.
“I’d like us to get better for three periods and not have to do that every time,” Lewiston Coach Jamie Belleau said.
“The first 10 minutes of the second period, we decided not to skate.
“When we skate, we make smarter decisions with the puck, we have more possession of the puck in the areas of the ice we want it. We need to do that better.”
Lewiston lost to Bangor, which will have much to say about who emerges in Eastern Class A, as will surging St. Dominic.
But the Blue Devils are encouraged by the emergence of a young third line (sophomore Kyle Morin scored the other goal against Scarborough) and from steadier play by junior goaltender Nick Hawk.
That combines with an already strong defensive corps that surrendered just 12 shots on goal to the Red Storm.
“This is big because it’s a Scarborough team that’s the best in the west and potentially could be a matchup in the future if we both play our way there,” Poulin said.
“It sends a message, when we compete, what we can do. It’s an exciting thing for us because it builds our confidence. And our confidence is going to go a long way because we have a hard schedule coming up.”
ST. DOMINIC is another Eastern Class A team with high hopes.
The current players were just learning to skate the last time St. Dom’s won a state boys’ hockey championship. But this crop of Saints is well-versed in the storied history of its program, said senior captain Brad Berube. It’s evident in the pregame chant.
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