Lewiston blinked first.
In a back-and-forth battle befitting a state title contest, Cheverus and Lewiston skated toe-to-toe with one another through nearly three full periods. The staredown withstood two partial Lewiston breakaways, several shots from both sides tipped in traffic, and a pair of shots off the post, and it lasted 41 minutes and 24 seconds.
Alyssa Audet, befitting her title as team co-captain, broke the stalemate in typical tight-game fashion. She found a shin-high rebound on a third-chance attempt at the left post and batted the on-edge puck past Lewiston goalkeeper Sarah Turner to break the deadlock.
“There were so many people in front of the net and the net was wide open because the goalie didn’t know where the puck was,” Audet said. “I’m just surprised I didn’t whiff. That would be something I would do.”
So, too, is winning a state championship.
Audet’s tally with 3:36 to play in regulation was the catalyst Cheverus was looking for. Briana Amato tacked on another at 13:40 and Emily Sawchuck fired the puck into an empty net to lift their squad to a 3-0 win over Lewiston, earning for Cheverus the school’s second girls’ state title of the school year, the first two in the school’s history. Cheverus was an all-male school until 2000.
“I was surprised it actually went in,” Audet continued. “After that, we just had the momentum. It was awesome.”
“That was everything you’d hope for and more in a state championship game,” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said.
Lewiston was playing in its second consecutive state title game, having won the inaugural event in 2009. Lewiston finished its season at 16-3-2.
“I was kidding the kids in the timeout I took right after (Audets goal),” Dumont said. “I said, ‘Coach is going to reach into the pocket here and see if he can pull out a little magic dust,’ just to kind of settle them down.”
Dumont also changed his team’s approach. That allowed the Stags to add more offense in the closing minutes of the game, resulting in another pair of goals.
“We had to try something different,” Dumont said. “We gave it everything we had.”
On the other end, in addition to Audet, goaltender Saundrine Lanouette was her typical, poised self. She endured a barrage of shots to begin the game unlike any she’d seen all season.
“They were playing us well, picking up our mistakes,” Lanouette said.
Lewiston looked every part the defending state champion early. The Devils tested Lanouette with three quick shots in the game’s first two minutes.
At the 3:02 mark, The Stags registered their first shot on net, and Turner batted it down with her blocker and covered up.
Turner again showed some composure in the middle part of the frame, when she tracked down a slap shot from Grace Fitzpatrick, who fired from the high slot through traffic.
Lewiston finished the first with a pair of power play opportunities, but barely managed a shot on goal.
In the second, sniper Marisa Zamrock had the best chance for either side when she swung out wide left against the Cheverus defense. She cut back to the center and tried to deke around Lanouette, but she ran out of real estate and the puck stopped in the blue paint, just shy of the left post, where the quick-thinking Lanouette covered it up.
“I think the girls were more frustrated than nervous,” Cheverus coach J.P. Lavoie said. “We never really lost hope. They kept plugging, the captains really stepped up and kept the players going.”
In the third, The Stags slowly started to wear down the Devils. After a penalty to Katie Roy of Cheverus, officials whistled Zamrock for interference. As the four-on-four came to a close, the Cheverus engine started to turn over. After launching just 11 shots on Turner through two periods, the Stags managed 11 in the third period alone.
On the other end, as usual, Lanouette held her own.
“Lewiston really kept pressure on us the whole game,” Lanouette said. “I had to be ready right away, and it got me into the game.”
“She’s given up five goals for us this year,” Lavoie said. “She’s a big deal for us. Anything can happen, but having her back there makes it a whole lot easier.”
Justin Pelletier, Sun Journal Assistant Sports Editor, Online, contributed to this story
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com