Falmouth's rally goes for naught in painful loss to Lewiston

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Falmouth junior goalie Spencer Pierce denies Lewiston junior Alex Rivet during the teams’ showdown Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils scored two late goals to win, 5-4.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

FALMOUTH—Monday evening, Falmouth’s boys’ hockey team went to Lewiston and erased a two-goal deficit, handing the defending Class A champions their first loss of the season.

Saturday afternoon, the Blue Devils got a second chance at the Yachtsmen at Family Ice Center and once again built a lead and once again saw it slip away, but this time, Lewiston rose off the deck and rallied for an inspirational victory in an instant classic.

Lewiston scored twice in a 15-second span in the first period to seize control, as junior Alex Rivet and senior Jeromey Rancourt tickled the twine.

Later in the first, Rivet struck again on the power play, but Falmouth answered on junior Brendan Hickey’s goal to cut the deficit to 3-1 after one period.

The second period featured seven penalties but no goals and the score remained 3-1 heading for the third period.

Where all sorts of zaniness broke out.

With 13:05 left in regulation, Hickey scored again, on the rebound and the Yachtsmen had life.

Lewiston had a chance to ice the game when it went on a two-man advantage, but twice in 57-seconds, senior Robbie Armitage stole the puck and scored shorthanded to improbably put Falmouth ahead, 4-3.

The Blue Devils didn’t hang their heads, however, and with 4:29 left, still on the two-man power play, they drew even on a goal from senior Cody Doyon.

Twenty-five seconds later, one more power play tally, this one a 5-on-4 strike from junior Joe Bisson, gave Lewiston the lead back and this time, the Blue Devils held it as they went on to a 5-4 victory.

Lewiston avenged its lone loss, improved to 10-1 and in the process, handed the Yachtsmen their second consecutive setback, dropping them to 7-2-1.

“We have to get rid of first period jitters,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. “The good news is we can come back against one of the strongest teams. I’m proud of my guys. They played three periods of hockey. They executed the systems we put into place.” 

Act II

Monday evening, Falmouth rallied from two-goals down at the Colisee to edge Lewiston, 3-2, and stay unbeaten.

The Yarmouth opened with a dramatic, 4-3, come-from-behind victory at Biddeford, then settled for a 3-3 home tie against defending regional champion Scarborough. Falmouth closed 2016 with wins at Yarmouth (9-1) and Cape Elizabeth (3-1) and opened the new year by beating Greely, 6-2, in the Dudley Cup. Wins at Bangor (4-2) and at home over Biddeford (3-0) followed, but after edging Lewiston, the Yachtsmen lost Wednesday at St. Dom’s, 2-1.

Lewiston won its first eight games, then lost to Falmouth before Wednesday’s 11-0 win over Poland/GNG/Oak Hll/Leavitt.

Saturday, Lewiston came out determined and shot a quick lead.

After Falmouth junior goalie Spencer Pierce denied Rancourt early, Rivet put the Blue Devils on top at 3:47, finishing a pass from sophomore Sam Frechette for a 1-0 advantage.

It took only 15 seconds for Lewiston to double the lead, as Rancourt did the honors. Sophomore Jack Leblond was credited with an assist.

After the teams traded penalties with neither scoring man-up, Lewiston went on the power play again and after Pierce denied sophomore Alex Robert and Doyon, Rivet scored at 11:04 with Rancourt getting the assist for a 3-0 lead.

The Yachtsmen got a goal back one shift and 23 seconds later when Hickey scored (from senior Reece Armitage), but the Blue Devils had a 3-1 advantage at the first intermission.

In the second period, there were more penalties than good scoring chances and neither team broke through.

The Yachtsmen had the best opportunity, as they had 64 seconds of 5-on-3, but they couldn’t muster a single shot.

Still a man-up, Falmouth got good looks from junior Alex Grade and Robbie Armitage, but Lewiston senior goalie Jacob Strout denied both.

Late in the period, Yachtsmen senior Reece Armitage was sent off for slashing and the Blue Devils almost extended their lead, but Pierce stopped a bid by Bisson. 

Lewiston started the third period on the power play and hoped to extend its lead, but Pierce denied both Rancourt and Rivet.

After Reece Armitage made a timely defensive save to keep his team alive, Falmouth pulled within 3-2 when Hickey scored on a rebound (Robbie Armitage and junior Marcus Cady were given assists) with 13:05 remaining.

“Brendan is a mucker,” Barton said. “He gets in there and has a real commitment to the forecheck and it paid off.”

The Yachtsmen had a chance to draw even when they went on the power play with 12:05 left, but Bisson almost scored shorthanded, only to be denied by Pierce.

With 8:09 to go, Rancourt was tripped up and injured and a five-minute major ensued.

“A game like this, you can’t get away from (chippiness),” Barton said. “It’s a tough game for the officials get right every play. You have to go in expecting to kill penalties and build a system that supports that. That call didn’t go our way. If we didn’t have that call, it would have been very different.”

But it would be Falmouth, not Lewiston that took advantage.

With 6:50 to play, Robbie Armitage stole the puck, raced in on Strout and finished the shorthanded goal to make it 3-3.

Fifty-seven seconds later, Robbie Armitage did it again, in almost identical fashion, scoring shorthanded after stealing the puck and just like that, the Yachtsmen had an stunning 4-3 advantage.

“That’s the type of player (Robbie) is,” Barton said. “His game gets elevated when the situation presents itself. He delivers when we need it. That’s on-ice leadership and he’s a great captain off the ice too.”

Out of a timeout, the Blue Devils remained on the power play and when junior Josh Allen was sent off for slashing at 9:56, the visitors had a two-man advantage and they converted.

After Grade made a tremendous defensive save to keep the puck out of the net on a shot by Doyon, Lewiston kept pressing and with 4:29 to play, drew even, as Doyon rebounded senior Cole Ouellette’s shot past Pierce to make it 4-4.

It only took Lewiston 25 seconds to regain the lead, as Rancourt set up Bisson for a power play goal and the Blue Devils were up, 5-4.

Down the stretch, Lewiston’s defense stood tall and Falmouth couldn’t rally again and the Blue Devils prevailed, 5-4.

“The fact the guys came back and responded the right way is good,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “I’m disappointed we made the two (turnovers) we did.  We just had to relax and believe in ourselves. We had to put everything to the net, take what they give you and relax. I wanted to maintain their composure. We need to be more disciplined. We played timid after the first period. We’re a fast team, but we got away from that. It’s almost like we fell asleep.”

Lewiston finished with a 31-27 edge in shots. Strout made 23 saves, while Pierce stopped 26 shots for Falmouth.

“We had a letdown against St. Dom’s, but we got more value out of that game than we did the two (Lewiston games),” Barton said. “All in all, it was a valuable week. We lost a couple games, but we gained a lot of maturity in the process.”

Act III?

Falmouth and Lewiston could meet one more time in the state final March 11.

“This is what high school hockey is all about,” Barton said. “Put 5,000 fans in the Colisee and drop the puck and let’s have some fun.”

In the meantime, both teams will aim for garnering the top seed in their respective regions.

Falmouth’s road doesn’t get any easier, as St. Dom’s pays a visit Tuesday, Bangor comes to town next Saturday and trips to Scarborough and Thornton Academy follow.

Lewiston has another big test Wednesday at Scarborough in a state game rematch that will be contested at the Colisee (Scarborough’s home ice this year).

“We’ll have to be better,” Belleau said. “We’re not hiding. Other teams will get better and bring their best game every time they play us. It would be nice for our kids to get to a state championship game, but for now, we’re focusing on Scarborough Wednesday.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Falmouth junior David Hawkes is denied point blank by Lewiston senior goalie Jacob Strout.

Falmouth junior Theo Hembre fires a shot.

Falmouth senior Robbie Armitage and Lewiston senior Bradley McLellan fight for the puck.

Falmouth junior Marcus Cady unleashes a shot.

Falmouth senior Reece Armitage shoots the puck past Lewiston junior Joe Bisson.

Falmouth junior Brendan Hickey jumps to elude Lewiston senior Bradley McLellan.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.