BIDDEFORD — After ceding a two-goal lead, and all the momentum with it, the Kennebunk boys hockey team desperately needed a spark from someone, anyone, in the third period of a vital game with Noble/Wells on Tuesday.

Fittingly, on Senior Day, it was Bryce Frasier who provided it.

Frasier, a senior captain, gave the Rams exactly what they needed midway through the period, blocking a shot in the defensive zone and receiving a perfectly weighted pass from Pat Gassman off the lose to break in and score the game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over the Knights in an inter-class boys hockey game at UNE’s Harold Alfond Forum.

The goal came just over two minutes after Noble/Wells had tied the game on a Kadin Lessard power play goal. Ignited, the Knights controlled play for the next two minutes until Frasier’s dive in front of the puck changed the game.

Gassman, who factored in all four Kennebunk goals, knew the puck was as good as in as soon as it left his stick.

“I trust Bryce completely in that situation,” Gassman said. “You know when you get him the puck, you can trust him. When I saw him on the breakaway and made that pass, I just knew we were going to get that goal.”

Kennebunk improved to 10-6-1 on the season with the win, and kept its hopes alive for a home playoff game in next week’s Class B quarterfinals with one game to play. Noble/Wells dropped to 13-4, with its chances for a home playoff game taking a hit.

Tuesday’s game, originally for a 6:45 p.m. start, was moved up to noon due to the impending snowstorm, sending both teams scrambling to get ready after the early-morning announcement.

“It was a crazy day with all the time changes, but we were happy to get the game in and get out of here with a win,” Rams coach Sean Smith said. “We found a way to win, and that’s important. I’m proud of the team dealing with adversity and coming out on top.”

Noble/Wells was without first-line forward Ryan Marsh, who was suspended a game after being tossed from Monday night’s game for an illegal hit, a decision that Knights assistant coach Brett Saucier called “questionable.”

His absence was especially tough for the Knights, who have just 13 skaters on the roster in addition to four goalies.

“That was a rough loss. He’s the heart and soul of the team, so it hurts,” said Saucier, filling in for head coach Keith St. Cyr, who couldn’t make the game after the time change. “It was an uphill climb all the way. They were running three lines to our two and endurance is a big factor in these kinds of games. It makes a big difference with legs.”

After Noble/Wells took the lead on Connor Pease’s first-period goal, Kennebunk scored three times in a 4:22 span to seemingly take control.

Gassman opened the Rams’ tab with a tip-in off Boden Beveridge’s pass from behind the goal, and then assisted on Ben Bath and Beveridge goals as the Rams took a 3-1 lead and looked ready to pull away.

“The first period we were sloppy with the time move and everything,” Gassman said. “The second period we were focused, settled in and ready to go.”

But a 5-on-3 power play for Noble/Wells changed the tide as Dean Pratt scored a wrap-around goal to make it 3-2. Another Knights man-advantage to start the third period turned into another goal, this one by Lessard after he collected a Pratt shot off the end boards and deposited past Rams goalie Michael Leblanc.

“Momentum was huge today and ours got broken up with the power plays,” Smith said. “(Noble/Wells) did a really good job on those. They had a solid power play.”

But momentum changed again two minutes later as Frasier, who had been quiet throughout, put his mark on the game with the blocked shot. Gassman picked up the puck and floated a pass to a sprinting Frasier at center. With plenty of time, he picked out his spot and buried a shot to the left of Knights goalie Wyatt Ricker.

Noble/Wells pushed for another equalizer, putting four shots on goal in the final minute, but couldn’t beat Leblanc, who ended with 19 saves. Ricker made 23, but couldn’t stop Kennebunk (10-6-1) from winning its third straight.

The Rams will go for four in a row tonight, when they make the trip up to Rockland to take on Camden Hills. A win there, and Kennebunk will be almost assured of a top-four finish in the Western Class B Heal Points, meaning a home game in next week’s playoff first round.

“This really was a team win tonight,” Smith said. “This is the first time we’ve won three in a row since the start of the season, so hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”

Despite the loss Noble/Wells (13-4) remains in fifth in the Western Class A Heal Point standings, just over a point behind Cheverus, The Knights finish their season tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Rochester Ice Arena against Portland/Deering, who won the teams’ first meeting 3-1 on Feb. 8.

“That’s the biggest game of the season for us,” Saucier said. “For seeding, and competition-wise they’re the closest team to us.”

— Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]



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