BIDDEFORD — Thornton Academy had just surrendered the tying goal despite skating with a man advantage, and the Biddeford half of the crowd was jumping while the Tigers were buzzing the net.

It was the critical point of Saturday night’s boys’ hockey game, a rugged rivalry whose outcome suddenly hung in the balance at Biddeford Ice Arena.

Taylor Browne swung the momentum one final time. The Trojans’ senior emerged from the penalty box and moments later backhanded a power-play goal past Biddeford goaltender Brandon Daigle to lead his team to a 4-2 victory.

“I felt it take the breath right out of us. We were down,” Browne said of the short-handed goal by Biddeford’s Nik Lemieux that tied the score 2-2.

Said Thornton Coach Jamie Gagnon: “We were just preaching, ‘Be poised.’ We certainly can’t afford to let the momentum and the atmosphere get to us and completely fold. We just had to get back on the attack.”

Those efforts were stymied when Browne took an interference penalty at 9:19 of the third period. But Biddeford’s Corey Brown went off for slashing 1:04 later.

When Browne took the ice to give the Trojans a man advantage, he made it count. The versatile skater is being used as both a forward and a defenseman. He was both on this power play, helping the Trojans hold the puck in the Biddeford zone before eventually gathering a pass from Drew Lavigne in the slot and then sliding a backhanded shot through heavy traffic.

“I had no clue it went in until I turned a corner and saw it there. I did not expect it to go in,” Browne said.

“I was ecstatic when I scored. I looked up at all my friends in the crowd and saw them all cheering.”

Lavigne scored on a breakaway seconds later, and the Trojans (2-2-1) had secured their sixth consecutive win against their biggest rival.

It was, as expected, a bruising game between teams that have won five of the last seven Class A state titles. Biddeford freshman Ricky Ruck was slammed into the boards five minutes into the contest, and left with injuries to his ribs and head. His prognosis is unknown.

The teams combined for 16 penalties.

“We tied it up and I felt like we were outskating them, we were outworking them a little bit. And then a couple of penalties on both sides, and with our short bench it just caught up to us,” Biddeford Coach Rich Reissfelder said.

“We got stretched on their power-play goal. We had a guy way out of his spot and gave them a two-on-one. So was it a mental error, was it a fatigue error? I don’t know.”

Thornton’s strategy was to dump the puck deep, challenging a young Biddeford defensive corps to try to cycle it back out. The first goal was actually scored from behind the goal line.

Eric Profenno was behind the net and looking to feed the puck to Owen Elliott out front. His pass ricocheted off Daigle’s back and into the net.

It was that kind of game for Biddeford (2-3).

“I thought we had more than enough opportunities to come back and win the game,” Reissfelder said. “But the game was that power-play goal by Browne.”

Mark Emmert can be reached at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH

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