Falmouth battles mighty Lewiston to scoreless tie

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FALMOUTH— Falmouth shut down the state’s most potent offense, but couldn’t muster a goal of its own, tying undefeated Lewiston, 0-0, Saturday at Family Ice Center.

Freshman goalie Dane Pauls made 25 saves, shutting the door on a team that had won its past three games by a total of 23-0.

“The kid knows he wants to be the best,” Falmouth coach Adam Nicholas said. “He works hard everyday to be the best. He is not a typical freshman goalie.”

The Blue Devils were averaging over six-goals per game. They’ve won a game 11-0, two games 10-0, and others by scores of 7-0 and 6-0. They tied fellow undefeated Biddeford, 2-2, in their lowest scoring game of the season. Falmouth also tied Biddeford, 2-2, earlier in the season, before losing to the Tigers, 6-1, in their second meeting.

Lewiston (12-0-2) goalie Sam Poussard, considered one of the best backstops in the state, is giving up less than a goal a game. He made 26 saves to shutout Falmouth (6-4-3) Saturday.

“(Pauls) is just as good as that goalie at the other end of the ice,” Nicholas said. “(Poussard) is a senior who has started since his freshman year. Dane Pauls is on same level, mental and maturity, and he is just a freshman. That’s why he plays in big games.”

With a minute remaining in overtime, Sam Cloutier split two Falmouth defenders at the blueline and broke free at the goal. A senior forward with 18 goals this season, Cloutier kept the puck low and tried to slide it in past Pauls, who shut the door to preserve the shutout.

Chants of “He’s a freshman!” rang from the Falmouth student section following the game-saving stop.

“(Pauls) came up huge on the breakaway,” Nicholas said. “ That’s one thing we have. We have great defense and goalies.”

The Yachtsmen’s best overtime opportunity came off a faceoff with 2.3 seconds remaining. Brandon Tuttle won the draw, sending it to senior captain Matt MacDowell, who fired a ferocious slapshot off the crossbar as the final horn sounded.

Falmouth set a feverish pace out of the gates, using a strong forecheck to keep the puck in the offensive zone the majority of the opening period. Despite outshooting Lewiston, 9-3, in the frame they couldn’t put one past Poussard.

“We were lucky to get out of the first period,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “After that we made some adjustments. That’s as good as we’ve seen anyone play, particularly in the first period, all year.”

Lewiston recovered in the second period, outshooting the Yachtsmen, 12-7, but were unable to crack Pauls. Midway through the period Blue Devils appeared to have a goal, but it was waived for deflecting in off a high stick.

The third period was played even. Falmouth outshot Lewiston, 6-5, as both teams began to show their frustrations on offense. Five minutes into the period, Cameron Bell cut across the slot, found an opening and fired a wrister. Poussard made the save as Bell slammed his stick on the ice.

Following a whistle, he skated to the bench, both hands on his stick as it rested on his head, the frustration palpable.

“We came out great tonight,” Nicholas said “We shut down their big dogs. We played hard. Am I satisfied with that? Absolutely not.”

After a three-game losing streak in January, Falmouth is 5-1-1 in its last seven games.

The Yachtsmen (fourth in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings, but within hailing distance of second) face Thornton Academy Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Biddeford.

Falmouth junior Mitch Tapley glides down the ice during Saturday’s contest.

Falmouth sophomore Kris Samaras lays into a Lewiston skater during what was a very physical affair.

Falmouth junior Brandon Tuttle gets knocked over during a collision.

Falmouth junior Brandon Tuttle’s path to the goal is broken up by a Lewiston defender. The Yachtsmen were shut out for just the second time this season.

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Late in overtime of Saturday night’s showdown, Falmouth freshman goalie Dane Pauls makes the save of the game, robbing Lewiston standout Sam Cloutier on a breakaway, to keep the game scoreless. The Yachtsmen and Blue Devils eventually settled for a 0-0 tie.

More photos below.

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