This is how the No.1 seed in a tournament goes down, this is how the seedings get toppled.

You get outstanding goaltending and maybe a fluke goal. No. 5 Thornton Academy got both Tuesday night and upended top-ranked Edward Little 2-1 in a Class A boys’ ice hockey semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Senior goalie Gage Tarbox-Belanger made 27 saves, several jaw-dropping, and senior Colby Bilodeau scored the winning goal with 5:12 remaining when his shot fluttered through a screen and into the top corner of the net.

Those factors lifted the Trojans (15-5) into the Class A state championship game for the first time since 2012. Thornton Academy will face Scarborough at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Cross Arena. Edward Little finished 17-3 after starting the season 13-0.

“It’s pretty much your childhood dream to be playing here, to be playing in the state game,” said Bilodeau. “And now we have the opportunity to do it. It’s just unreal.”

“It’s just very exciting,” said Tarbox-Belanger. “It feels amazing. We’ve been working hard all season and I think we deserve this very much.”


This was a game that the Eddies controlled for two periods. But Tarbox-Belanger, who has allowed just three goals in three playoff games, was nearly unbeatable. He set the tone early when he stopped Wesley Clements on a breakaway just 50 seconds into the game, jutting his left pad out to stop the shot after Clements cut to his right.

“I just knew I had to make the save,” said Tarbox-Belanger.

And the coaches knew what that save meant. “If we score there, that changes everything,” said Edward Little’s Norm Gagne.

“That save got him into the game,” said Thornton’s Jamie Gagnon.

The Trojans would take a 1-0 lead with 6:38 left in the first on a rebound goal by freshman Gavin Pellerin. The Eddies would then take control. They dominated the rest of the first and all of the second period, but were constantly stymied. Clements hit the cross bar late in the second. Seconds later, EL’s Jack Keefe got a rebound in the low slot, only to be turned back by another sprawling left pad save.

“He’s special,” said Gagnon, of Tarbox-Belanger. “He’s really special. There’s no doubt about that.”


Gagne kept telling his Eddies to get the puck on the net, that one goal would lead to more. And they finally tied it with 7:54 left when Clements again broke in, this time not to be denied, and it was 1-1.

But the Trojans went on a power play with 6:19 remaining to stifle the Eddies’ momentum. And 67 seconds later they had the lead. With the Trojans scrambling and trying to get a shift change, Brady Corson got the puck at the left point and slid it over to Bilodeau. He wristed a shot that fluttered through a maze of players – a knucklepuck as it were – and it found the upper left corner.

“Honestly, when I got the puck I thought I was going to whiff it,” said Bilodeau. “I just took the shot and I never really saw it.”

The Eddies had a couple more chances in the final minutes, but nothing that Tarbox-Bilodeau couldn’t handle.

“I think the second and third periods, we owned them both, those periods,” said Gagne. “Gage Tarbox stole the game for them. There’s no question about that. He played unbelievable. He’s a first-class goalie.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.