Lewiston dashes Falmouth's dream, repeats as state champion

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Lewiston senior captain Jeromey Rancourt (front) and junior captain Joe Bisson celebrate one of the Blue Devils’ six goals during their 6-2 win over Falmouth in Saturday evening’s Class A state final. Lewiston repeated as champion and won the title for the 22nd time.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

LEWISTON—Last winter, Lewiston’s boys’ hockey team returned to the pinnacle.

Saturday evening, the Blue Devils restored their dynasty.

With an absolutely overwhelming 45-minute display of dominance.

Facing Falmouth in a highly-anticipated Class A state final, Lewiston quickly assumed control and behind a vocal, partisan crowd in the packed-to-the-gills Colisee, The Blue Devils quickly served notice that they would be winning consecutive championships for the first time in 24 years.

Lewiston couldn’t break through in the first period, despite a 10-3 shots advantage, as Yachtsmen junior goalie Spencer Pierce stopped every puck he faced, but in the second period, the Blue Devils registered 19 shots and three of them found the mark.

Just 94 seconds into the second period, on the power play, senior captain Cole Ouellette finished after a great individual mark to put Lewiston on top to stay.

With 10:53 to play in the second period, sophomore Alex Robert banged home a rebound for a 2-0 lead.

Then, with 4:02 left, again on the power play, junior Alex Rivet scored on a rebound for a commanding 3-0 advantage.

The question entering the third period was could Falmouth rally, as it did in both regular season meetings, but while the Blue Devils faltered in those meetings, they weren’t about to with their legacy on the line and in the third period, Lewiston finished with a flourish.

After Blue Devils senior goalie Jacob Strout made a big save early in the period, Lewiston scored three goals in 2 minutes, 37 seconds to end all doubt.

First, Ouellette finished a give-and-go passing sequence from senior Cody Doyon at 3:44. Thirty-seven seconds later, junior Joe Bisson scored on a low shot and with 8:39 to play, Rancourt’s second goal, on a rebound of his own shot, made it 6-0.

Falmouth got on the board with 4:03 to play, when senior standout Robbie Armitage scored unassisted on a breakaway short-handed, and with 1:20 remaining, junior Brendan Hickey added a goal, but from there, Lewiston clamped down and put the finishing touches on its 6-2 victory.

The Blue Devils enjoyed a nearly 3-to-1 advantage in shots on goal (40-14), finished a nearly perfect season at 20-1, ended the Yachtsmen’s campaign at 16-4-1 and in the process, won back-to-back championships for the first time since 1992-93 while capturing their 22nd all-time crown.

“I think everybody knew what we were facing,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. “(Lewiston’s) a quality, powerhouse, well-coached team. They have been all season long. They have incredible talent. We had to be almost perfect, but our youth showed. They made us pay for our mistakes.”

“I said one thing before the game today, ‘Hard work is going to get us to where we want to be,'” said Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau. “When you skate hard and you combine that with some talented players, it’s a good recipe for success.”

Simply the best

Falmouth won Class A state championships in 2013 and 2014, but the Yachtsmen were upset by Scarborough in the 2015 semifinals, then were frustrated, 1-0, by the Red Storm in last winter’s regional final.

Despite a relatively inexperienced roster, Falmouth made it clear from the get-go this season that it was the team to beat in Class A South (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).

The Yachtsmen started with a come-from-behind, 4-3 win at Biddeford, then settled for a 3-3 home tie versus Scarborough. After rolling at defending Class B South champion Yarmouth (9-1) and winning at Cape Elizabeth, 3-1, Falmouth started the new year by downing Greely in the “Dudley Cup,” 6-2, then won at Bangor (4-2), at home over Biddeford (3-0) and at Lewiston (3-2). The Yachtsmen fell from the unbeaten ranks with a 2-1 loss at St. Dom’s and dropped a 5-4 thriller to visiting Lewiston, but bounced back by downing visiting Bangor (4-1) and avenging their previous loss with a 10-0 home drubbing of St. Dom’s. After falling at Scarborough, 4-2, Falmouth finished strong by downing host Thornton Academy (4-3), host Portland/Deering (7-2), visiting Cheverus (8-0), visiting Thornton Academy (8-0) and host Cheverus (4-3) to wind up 14-3-1 and first in the region.

After a bye into the semifinals, the Yachtsmen were tested in both regional playoff games, coming alive in the third period to pull away from No. 4 Portland/Deering, 5-2, in the semifinals, then rallying from a two-goal deficit to defeat No. 2 Cheverus, 3-2, in Tuesday’s regional final.

Lewiston, which won a state title last winter for the first time since 2002, won its first eight games, lost by a goal at home to Falmouth, then closed on a nine-game surge to earn the top seed in Class A North. After getting a bye into the semifinals, the Blue Devils ousted rival St. Dom’s, the No. 4 seed, 4-1, then Tuesday, sent No. 2 Bangor packing in the regional final, 6-0.

The teams met just once previously in the state final, Falmouth’s 4-0 win in 2013, when it won the title for the first time (see sidebar, below, for previous state game results).

The Yachtsmen then beat St. Dom’s, 3-2, in overtime in 2014 (they also lost, 6-2, to Winslow way back in the 1997 Class B state game).

Saturday belonged to the Blue Devils, who put on a 45-minute show, adding another triumphant chapter to the program’s storied legacy.

Lewiston had the better of possession and chances in the first period, but couldn’t score.

Just 29 seconds in, Pierce had to make his first save, denying Rancourt.

After sophomore Sam Frechette shot just high, Falmouth got its first chance, as a pass from Reece Armitage was redirected by junior Jacob Skillin-Lanou on goal, but Strout managed to trap it at the last second.

The Blue Devils went back on the attack, but senior Jean-Luc Dostie shot wide, Pierce denied Joe Bisson (with Dostie whiffing on a rebound), Bisson again and Ouellette (as well as Frechette on a rebound attempt).

After Strout turned away a shot by Robbie Armitage with his blocker, junior Lou Mainella shot wide.

With 8:32 to go in the first, Lewiston got to go on the power play as Yachtsmen junior Theo Hembre was sent off for two minutes for high sticking.

The Blue Devils got some looks, as sophomore Nick Bisson was denied, Rancourt tried to stuff home the rebound and was stopped by Pierce and a third attempt from Rivet was also denied.

After Joe Bisson shot just wide, Pierce stopped a shot by Doyon.

With 4:26 left in the first, Falmouth got an opportunity as Hickey and Hembre went 2-on-1 with a defender, but Hickey’s shot was just wide.

After Pierce denied Frechette and Rivet, Joe Bisson was denied and Rancourt sent the rebound high.

With 1:47 remaining, a Nick Bisson shot tickled the twine, momentarily exciting the Lewiston crowd, but the shot was outside the goal.

With 48.4 seconds left, the Yachtsmen went on the power play, as Blue Devils junior Dustin Larochelle went off for a cross check, but Strout made a clutch glove save on a good bid from Robbie Armitage and Reece Armitage sent a shot just wide, keeping the game scoreless heading to the first intermission.

“The Armitages (Robbie and Reece), they’re both great, they’re both great hockey players. But early in the game, any big save is key, and I was just fortunate enough to save it,” Strout said.

In the first period, the Blue Devils enjoyed a 10-3 shots advantage, but Pierce stopped all 10 shots he saw.

“At the end of the first period, we kept it close and that was our game plan,” Barton said. “The longer we kept it close, the better it would go.”

In the second period, Lewiston continued to get shots and managed to put three in.

Falmouth started the period on the power play and had a great look to take the lead as after Strout saved Reece Armitage’s shot, the rebound came right to Hickey, who had a lot of net to shoot at, but Strout kicked the shot away.

Fifty-four seconds into the second, Robbie Armitage was sent to the penalty box for roughing and it took just 40 seconds for the Blue Devils to break the ice with a power play goal.

It would be Ouellette doing the honors after a fantastic individual move, breaking in on Pierce, getting the goalie to move one way, then finishing for a 1-0 advantage.

“I do that move every day in practice, so I just tried it,” Ouellette said. “You got to try it and see how it goes.”

Just 11 seconds after the goal, Frechette nearly made it 2-0 when he shot just wide, but Lewiston would eventually get a second tally.

After Joe Bisson had shot saved and Pierce kicked way a bid by Rivet, Rivet got the puck to Nick Bisson, whose shot was saved by Pierce, but Robert pounced on the rebound and finished at 4:07 of the second.

Just 57 seconds later, Doyon had a chance to produce a third goal, but on the breakaway, Pierce stopped him cold.

At 6:01, Hickey appeared primed for a breakaway, but Ouellette got back to break it up and seconds later, Hickey was called for a slashing penalty, again giving the Blue Devils a chance to open it up further.

Pierce and the Falmouth penalty kill wouldn’t allow it, however, as after Frechette shot just high, Pierce denied junior Ryan Bossie and Nick Bisson, then robbed Rancourt to keep the score 2-0.

For the time being.

After Reece Armitage’s shot through a screen was saved by Strout, Lewiston went back on the attack, as Pierce robbed Rivet and Frechette’s rebound went just wide, Ouellette had a shot saved and Rancourt had the same result on a bid off a faceoff.

At 10:37, Mainella was sent to the penalty box for contact to the head and that led to the Blue Devils’ third tally.

After Pierce saved Rancourt’s bid and Rivet whiffed on the rebound, Lewiston kept the pressure on, as Joe Bisson got the puck to Rancourt, who fired a shot which Pierce saved, but this time, Rivet was able to get to the rebound and back-hand it home for a 3-0 lead with 4:02 to go in the period. 

“We ended up focusing more on the physical part of the game and less on putting shots on their goalie,” Barton said. “That was the story of the second period and the story of the game. We got some tough calls that in my opinion, should have been no calls. In a game like this, it matters.” 

The Yachtsmen tried to answer, as Hembre had a good look, but Strout made the save and at 11:50, Robbie Armitage received a penalty for a slash, giving the Blue Devils a chance to completely break the game open.

While Lewiston smelled blood in the water, it couldn’t score again, as Pierce denied Rancourt and Nick Bisson, sending the game to the second intermission, 3-0.

In the second period, the Blue Devils enjoyed a staggering 19-2 shots advantage.

Entering the third period, Falmouth hoped to rally.

“We got out of our game plan and dug a hole, but we’ve been down before,” Barton said. “We hate being there, but we’ve been there. We had the resources to come back. We were positive, but playing against a deep and hungry team, it’s tough.”

The Yachtsmen did come out with good energy and after junior Marcus Cady had a shot saved by Strout, the goalie made a tremendous glove save on a Mainella blast, then denied Cady again.

Lewiston then ended all doubt.

After Rivet had a shot saved by Pierce, Ouellette and Doyon embarked up the ice and Ouellette passed the puck to Doyon, who sent it back to Ouellette in front for an easy tap-in and a 4-0 lead at 3:44 of the period.

“They capitalized and got the fourth one and from there, it was just too tough,” Barton said.

With 10:39 to play, Joe Bisson raced in and beat Pierce near side (Rancourt and junior Ryan Bossie were given assists).

Exactly two minutes later, Dostie ran down a loose puck behind the Falmouth goal and waited for Rancourt to pop free. Rancourt’s initial shot was saved, but he buried the rebound for a 6-0 lead.

“We just stuck to our game plan,” Rancourt said. “Every time we were up, we just went back to thinking it was a 0-0 game. Don’t let the score trigger your mind.”

That was it for Lewiston’s offense, but it was more than enough.

Showing their pride, the Yachtsmen did score twice down the stretch.

Falmouth got a short-handed goal with 4:03 to play, as Robbie Armitage stole the puck and raced in one-on-one with Strout before finishing to get the Yachtsmen on the board.

With 1:20 to go, Cady set up Hickey for a goal to make it a four-goal game, but that’s as close as Falmouth would get and at 7:52 p.m., the Blue Devils were able to celebrate their emphatic 6-2 victory.

“This game came down to making smart decisions with the puck, utilizing our strengths, keeping our composure and playing our game, making sure we didn’t fall into their trap,” Belleau said. “The kids did everything we asked them to do. 

“There’s a lot of pressure put on the kids after last year, Anything short of getting back here — and obviously we wanted to win, but anything short of getting back here would have been a disappointment.”

Lewiston produced 40 shots and got a dozen saves from Strout.

Building block

Pierce made 34 saves for the Yachtsmen, but they only mustered 14 shots.

“It was extremely tough to get pucks on net,” said Barton. “They played a terrific defensive game. We didn’t pressure them the way we have in the past. The longer it went on, the tougher it was to get any shots. We just didn’t have it tonight.

“At the beginning of the season, I don’t think anybody was really serious about us getting to this game with the underclassmen and the scorers we lost. I’m proud of the kids. I told them I love them all. We had a very successful season. Just to get to this game was a major accomplishment. I wanted them to understand that as tough as this game was to lose, they deserve credit. We had underclassmen who had never been in this situation before, then they got in a deep hole. They had to go through this to grow up.”

Falmouth only loses two seniors, but the impact of Reece Armitage and Robbie Armitage can’t be quantified.

“Reece and Robbie will be the two toughest shoes to fill in years,” Barton said. “They’ve had a major impact on this team, on and off the ice. They’ll be sorely missed and very hard to replace.”

Everyone else is back and the Yachtsmen will look to turn the disappointment of Saturday’s loss into a state title next March.

“We have to bottle this up and learn from it,” Barton said. “When we get back here next year, we’ll use this as fuel for success. We look forward to making another run.”

Sun Journal staff writers Wil Kramlich and Randy Whitehouse contributed to this story.

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

Falmouth senior Reece Armitage skates past Lewiston senior Bradley McLellan.

Falmouth sophomore Jack Kidder checks Lewiston sophomore Alex Robert.

Lewiston junior Dustin Larochelle tries to keep the puck away from Falmouth senior Robbie Armitage.

Falmouth junior Jacob Skillin-Lanou tries to bang home a rebound in traffic.

Falmouth junior Brendan Hickey has a shot saved by Lewiston senior Jacob Strout.

Falmouth junior Theo Hembre takes a shot.

Falmouth junior goalie Spencer Pierce denies the shot of Lewiston junior Alex Rivet.

Falmouth senior captain Robbie Armitage accepts the runner-up plaque.

Previous Falmouth stories

Season Preview

Falmouth 3 Scarborough 3

Lewiston 5 Falmouth 4

Falmouth 7 Portland/Deering 2

Falmouth 5 Cheverus 0

Falmouth 3 Cheverus 2

Previous Falmouth state games

2014 Class A
Falmouth 3 St. Dom’s 2 (OT)

2013 Class A
Falmouth 4 Lewiston 0

1997 Class B
Winslow 6 Falmouth 2 

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