Maine Hockey Journal

Panthers claim first Class B title

(PHOTO: RAM Sport)

(PHOTO: RAM Sport)

LEWISTON – It took two overtimes, but it was worth the wait for the Waterville Purple Panthers as they defeated the Yarmouth Clippers 3-2 to win their first Class B state championship Saturday afternoon at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Waterville (19-1-1), which had won 20 Class A championships, claimed the school’s first Class B title since moving down to that class several years ago.

Andrew Roderigue’s late-night practice of taking slap shot after slap shot would finally pay off for him and the city Waterville.

Matt Jolicoeur slid a pass to Roderigue at the right point, who blasted a slap shot that beat Yarmouth goaltender Dan Latham over his blocker to win the game.

“I’ve had an ice rink all my years growing up, so I’ve been out there working on my shot staying up until midnight on school nights just practicing and practicing,” said Roderigue. “I’m glad no one was in front to block it because they’ve been doing that all game. They were doing a good job.”

“He’s been our leading scorer all year,” said Waterville’s coach Dennis Martin. “He shows up for us. He just makes everything happen. His shot is pretty darn good, and he just does everything. All night long he was creating a lot of offensive chances for us.”

Though the Purple Panthers controlled the pace of play through most of the first period, it was Yarmouth that put the first goal in the back of the net.

While shorthanded the Clippers controlled the puck and carried it into the offensive zone on a two-on-one where Walter Conrad slid a pass to Patrick Grant who dished it back to Conrad for a quick shot that was stopped by Nathan Pinnette. Grant was there to put the rebound into the net at 6:15 into the first period.

With 3:05 remaining in the period, Yarmouth’s Noah Grondin stole the puck from a Waterville defenseman and sniped a shot past the glove of Pinnette.

Yarmouth, who finished 16-5, was looking for its first state title in 14 years.

Waterville’s constant possession of the puck finally resulted in a goal for the team. Roderigue slid a pass across the crease to Michael Bolduc, who dunked the puck into the open net with 2:05 remaining in the first period.

“That’s the way it goes,” said Martin on his team coming back from being down 2-0. “I just told them to keep working hard, and sooner or later we’d get one to go our way, and we did late in that first period.”

After a few minutes of neutral zone play for both teams, the second period had a jolt of excitement near the end of the stanza. Waterville’s Nicholas Denis committed a cross-checking penalty after a whistle with 1:38 remaining in the period.

Only 29 seconds later, the Purple Panthers were guilty of a hooking penalty to give the Clippers a five-on-three man advantage for 1:31.

With the help of goaltender Pinnette, the Purple Panthers killed both penalties that carried over into the third period. Pinnette recorded 25 saves on 27 shots in the win while Dan Latham, who was stellar in net for the Clippers, made 27 saves on 30 shots.

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