LEWISTON — In the blink of an eye, it was over.

After 58 minutes and 13 seconds of hockey, Waterville’s Andrew Roderigue scored on a fierce slap shot from just inside the blue line to give the Purple Panthers a 3-2 win over Yarmouth in double overtime in the Class B state championship Saturday afternoon at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. The victory secured the Purple Panthers’ 21st state championship in program history.

“It’s unreal,” Roderigue said. “After I scored that goal I wasn’t sure if it was true or fake. I didn’t know if I was dreaming or not.”

After nearly an hour’s worth of hockey, the game-winning goal took merely seconds to develop.

Nick Denis stepped into the faceoff circle opposite Yarmouth’s Chris Romano and to the right of Clippers’ goaltender Dan Latham (27 saves). The Purple Panthers’ senior captain won the draw back to defenseman Matt Jolicoeur, who in turn pivoted and sent a cross-ice pass along the blue line to Roderigue.

Roderigue, who led Waterville in goals with 27 during the regular season, did not hesitate and fired a one-timer that found an area of the goal no bigger than a small shoe box between Latham’s left shoulder and the cross bar 5:13 into the second overtime.

“I believed in the boys and I knew we would do this,” Denis said. “If we kept working, kept doing what we do we were going to get this ‘W.’

“Coming into that faceoff I was like, ‘we have to end this game.’ We were starting to get a little nervous, but I was never really nervous. I won that draw back and all of a sudden I just saw his slap shot come right by, top corner, and I’ve never felt a greater feeling in my life.”

Waterville dictated much of the play early on Saturday, but it was Yarmouth that took the lead when Patrick Grant converted a two on one, shorthanded opportunity in transition with teammate Walter Conrad just 6:15 into the contest.

The Clippers surged ahead 2-0 with 3:05 left in the first when a Waterville turnover at its own blue line led to a Noah Grondin goal. The Purple Panthers answered back just 48 seconds later, though, when Roderigue found Michael Bolduc alone along the back post for the score.

“That’s the way it goes,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “I told them to keep working hard and the bounces, sooner or later, we’d get one to go our way. We did late in that first period to give us a little momentum heading into the second.”

Yarmouth got a promising opportunity to add to its lead with a 5-on-3 power play for 1:31 between the end of the second and start of the third periods, but the Purple Panthers’ penalty kill and goaltender Nathan Pinnette (31 saves) held.

“That was tough. I thought we had a good opportunity there,” Yarmouth coach David St. Pierre said. “Credit to Waterville, they killed that penalty really well. They were aggressive when they had to be. We had a couple good looks but we just couldn’t get that converted there.”

After trailing for the better part of the afternoon, Waterville finally got the equalizer from freshman Cooper Hart with 8:22 remaining in regulation. On the play, Justin Wentworth skated toward the net and dropped a pass back to Bolduc, who in turn fired the shot on Latham. The Yarmouth goalie made a pad save with his left leg, but the long rebound came right out to Hart at the top of the right circle for the slap shot.

“I never doubted us once,” senior Michael Oliveira said. “We’ve come through all year and done it all year, so I knew someone would pull it off.”

While Saturday’s state title was a long time coming, it may just be the beginning of a strong run for Waterville. The Purple Panthers will only graduate four seniors from this season’s team, two of which — Denis and Oliveira — played significant minutes this season.

Before Waterville looks to the future, though, it was more than happy to enjoy the moment on Saturday.

“This is an unreal feeling,” Oliveira said. “Obviously I’ve never experienced this but there’s no better way to go out in my senior year. It’s just awesome.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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