Another tough loss for Falmouth hockey

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LEWISTON — With one quick surge past the defender, the anticipation of the crowd suddenly heightened.

Matt Poulin was racing against time, against the opposing goaltender and against his own adrenaline. With the defender beat and regulation ticking away, Poulin was trying to take the implausible and make it possible.

“I was a little nervous that I wasn’t going to get to the puck before the goalie did,” said Poulin. “When I got that final reach out and I noticed I had control of it, I was going crazy in my mind. I didn’t know what to do, but I finally got a chance to bury it.”

After getting a step on the defender, the puck slid ahead of him. Poulin was able to reach out and control the puck just before Falmouth goalie Dane Pauls. Then Poulin made a quick move to his left, giving him an open net. He buried his unlikely opportunity and lifted Lewiston to a stunning 3-2 win with five seconds left in regulation.

“When he jumped out, I thought he would beat me to it,” said Poulin, who started the rush with about 10 seconds left. “He had a bit of an advantage on me. I got that final push and was able to get it around him.”

It was a thrilling win for the Blue Devils (3-1) after Falmouth (2-2) dominated much of the final period, outshooting Lewiston 14-7. Both Pauls and Lewiston netminder Evan Bourassa were outstanding.

“We’re going to learn a lot from this game,” said Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau. “First, we know what we can do when we play. Secondly, we can see what can happen when you get on your heels against a good team like that.”

Falmouth (which lost in overtime to Scarborough, 4-3, on a breakaway Monday) started strong and was threatening for much of the third. The Yachtsmen came up empty on the power play but got the tying goal from Hugh Grygiel with 7:59 left in the third.

“We had our opportunities to put this one away and we didn’t do it,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. “When you let a team as well-coached and as hungry as that hang around, this is what can happen. It’s unfortunate but last game we lost in overtime to a good team and did the same thing.”

Falmouth put the pressure on early and created a power-play opportunity with its early attack. That led to a J.P. White power-play goal with 6:04 left in the period. He lifted a rebound up and over a sprawled Bourassa for the early lead. Lewiston had a late power play of its own but a penalty nixed that chance.

“We were playing pretty well and then we took a penalty,” said Belleau. “They got a power-play goal. That put us on our heels a little bit. Then their transition game picked up. That was troublesome for us.”

Lewiston began to generate more offense late in the second. Eddie Emerson skated out of the right corner for a shot that was saved. A few minutes later, Poulin cut to the net for a bid. It was stopped by  Pauls, but Kyle Ulrich was there to put in the rebound with 3:56 left.

Then with 2:02 remaining, Patrick DeBlois finished off a rush on the left side with a wrister to put the Blue Devils ahead. Lewiston nearly made it 3-1 in the final minute, but Pauls made a stop at the left post on a wrap-around attempt.

“We made some adjustments in the second period and we increased our energy and won the period,” said Belleau.

Early in the third, it was Falmouth’s opportunity. The Yachtsmen had a power play with 10:53 left and generated good pressure on the man advantage. Falmouth had five shots during that span but couldn’t get one past Bourassa, who finished with 28 saves.

But with 7:59 left, the Yachtsmen were able to tie it on Grygile’s goal.

Lewiston had a prime chance to get the lead back with 7:15 left when Evan Gosselin dished to his right to an open Ulrich, who had an open look on the right side but shot wide.

At the other end, Falmouth’s Kris Samaras had a shot from the slot that was gloved by Bourassa with 2:24 left in regulation.

“I thought we did a lot of things right,” said Barton. “I see a lot of good things out there. There are guys working hard and showing great leadership. We just have to make some adjustments and put some more pucks in the net.”

The game appeared headed for overtime when Gosselin and Ethan Melvin helped transition the attack the other way. Poulin had been down earlier in the period and was helped off after banging his shoulder on the boards.

“It just shows that as a team you have to battle,” said Poulin. “That’s a big thing for us, battling adversity. To come back twice like that and pick up the win really shows our character in moving forward.”