WINSLOW – Beating a team three times in a season is never easy.

The Lawrence/Skowhegan co-op boys hockey team found out just how difficult it can be Tuesday evening at Sukee Arena, as the fourth-seeded Bandits (11-7-1) dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 5 Edward Little (10-9-0) in the quarterfinals of the Eastern Class A playoffs.

The Bandits — who beat the Red Eddies 5-3 and 7-3 during the regular season — fell behind 3 minutes, 11 seconds into the contest and never caught up. The well-balanced Red Eddies got goals from Liam Benson, Dixon Dilodovico, Branden Dyer, Ryan Raby, Max Giard and Cade Chapman. Trey Michonski had the lone goal for Lawrence/Skowhegan, while Curtis Martin stopped 28 shots.

“We came out and we were flat. The emotions before the game, I don’t know if they got to us or whatnot but we just didn’t bring it tonight,” Lawrence/Skowhegan coach Ted Fabian said. “Edward Little came out and took away all our time and space, they capitalized on all our turnovers and mistakes and they brought it and we didn’t.”

The contest started out well enough for the Bandits after Edward Little’s Ben Steele was whistled for a cross check 1:13 into the contest, but it was the Red Eddies who took advantage. Benson beat a Bandits defender along the right boards in the neutral zone to a loose puck to spring into open ice and took care of the rest from there, lifting the puck into the top of the net after faking to go low on Martin with 11:49 to play in the opening period.

The Red Eddies doubled their advantage on a goal from Dilodovico just 1 minute and 19 seconds later, and early in the second their lead ballooned to 3-0 on a goal from Dyer on a shot from the right circle.

Edward Little’s lead easily could have been more though had it not been for the play of Martin, as the sophomore goaltender was under constant pressure all game.

“He played a hell of a game,” Fabian said. “He grew all year, he played a lot bigger than a sophomore. He played like a senior and a leader out there, very vocal both on and off the ice. He holds his teammates accountable.”

The Bandits finally got some momentum midway through the period when Michonski scored off an assist from Haver, and with 2:12 to play in the period Edward Little’s Tyler Couture was whistled for a double minor for a high stick and a cross check.

A 5-minute major penalty on Cody Martin for a hit to the head would negate the Bandits’ opportunity though, a theme that would persist through the final period.

Lawrence/Skowhegan survived the Cody Martin penalty as well as a tripping call on Haver that made it 4-on-3 for 1 minute, but any momentum they had from Michonski’s goal was gone. Raby dealt the back-breaking goal with 8:04 to play when he snuck the puck between Curtis Martin’s legs and just underneath his stick.

Edward Little added an empty netter from Giard and another goal from Chapman in the final two minutes to round out the scoring. For the Red Eddies, Tuesday’s game was as much about who was on the ice as it was what happened on it. The last time the two teams met they were missing a number of players, including Matt Verill, Cody Woodward, Zack Guimond and Dilodovico.

“For the first time all season we had everyone on board tonight,” Edward Little coach Craig Latuscha said. “We’ve played for the most part pretty disciplined when faced with some adversity.

“We were missing quite a few players due to injury among other reasons and we played with other players that we had and it helped us get a little better throughout this season. Finally, nearing the end of the season we’re playing better hockey.”

Despite the final result it was still a strong season for the Bandits, particularly given the way it began after getting off to a 1-5-1 start.

“Two teams coming together, doing what they did, it doesn’t happen very often,” Fabian said. “It’s just a testament to our players and their character, their determination and their courage coming out here every day, working hard, continuously getting better and responding to how hard we push them. A great season all around, I just wish it didn’t end this way.”

Evan Crawley – 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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