WATERVILLE — One wild 30-second stretch midway through the third period, in which Messalonskee came up empty on two superb goal-scoring bids and a Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI breakaway produced nothing more than a groan of resignation from the stands, seemed to suggest that a goal might never come Wednesday night.

With two teams sitting dead last in their respective regions at a combined record of 0-9-0 entering the evening, it all seemed so appropriate.

And when sophomore Salvatore Caccamo finally solved Bandits netminder Hunter Raye just 1:40 into overtime, lifting Messalonskee to a 1-0 win over Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI at Colby College’s Alfond Rink, it felt along the benches like Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final had suddenly ended.

“We’ve been working hard, and finally our team came through and got the win that we deserved,” Messalonskee goalie Eli Michaud said. “In that moment, it’s just an electric feeling. I felt so alive, and I wanted to share that moment with my teammates.”

Three stars are not given in high school hockey, but if they were Caccamo would easily have earned the game’s No 1 star. As for stars Nos. 2 and 3, those honors had to go to Raye (37 saves) and Michaud (28 saves). Both juniors, they turned in the kind of steady, unruffled performances of netminders both years older and far more experienced.

“Both goalies played great games, and it’s one of those things where one shot, one moment, is going to make the difference,” Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI coach Dakota Gendreau said. “It’s a game of bad bounces, but nobody was out of it. Shots after shots and chances after chances, everybody was always feeling that they were going to be the one to get it.”

The deciding goal arrived from the Messalonskee zone, with senior defenseman Cole Smith executing a perfect breakout pass to junior Reilly Benecke up the right wing. Benecke gained the blue line along the half-wall and centered for Caccamo, whose quick one-timer beat Raye to the short side.

The goal was the first of Caccamo’s career.

“It’s our first team win, so it’s big,” Caccamo said. “I saw Reilly go up the boards to the right and he needed someone to go with him. The defender went over to cut him off, and I called for the puck. He gave it to me, and I shot it.”

“The fact that Sal scored the goal and it’s his first high school goal ever — it’s just really great,” Messalonskee coach Kevin Castner said. “The kids kept working hard all through the game, and even into overtime they kept up that work ethic.”

Overtime should have been avoided, with the aforementioned 30-second third-period blitz somehow failing to register a goal.

Messalonskee freshman Myles Hammond fed Ben Hellen on the doorstep with 7:30 left, but Hellen couldn’t swat the puck through Raye’s pads. At the other end, Cody Dixon’s breakway for the Bandits (0-5-0) was kicked out by Michaud’s pad, and Hammond’s slap shot from the high slot with 7:02 remaining rang solidly off the right post.

“It’s one of those moments where I’m thinking, ‘Man, this is going to be the worst feeling ever’ after those dueling odd-man rushes. You’re just thinking, ‘Please let that bounce go my way,'” Gendreau said. “In those moments, nothing’s going to get a coach’s adrenaline and fear pumping more.”

During a brief up-and-down stretch midway through the first period, Michaud made a fantastic post-to-post stop on Sean Savage’s rebound chance. At the other end of the rink, Raye tracked Hellen and turned his bid aside as Hellen cut through traffic off the bottom of the left circle and tried to beat the goalie to the far post.

Though Michaud and Raye combined to make 17 saves and keep the game at 0-0 through 15 minute, most of the activity was limited to the perimeter with long shots from well beyond the circles.

The Bandits’ best chance to break through never materialized. In the final minute of the period, Savage slipped behind Smith in the neutral zone to scoop up a loose puck, but Savage’s sure breakaway never got up to speed after he lost an edge 10 feet inside the attacking blue line and fell to the ice — the puck slowly floating in on Michaud, which the goalie covered for a faceoff.

Territorially, things were much better for Messalonskee (1-5-0) in the middle period, though neither team could break through.

The Eagles enjoyed a 15-7 advantage in shots on goal in the frame, but the Bandits very nearly had the game’s only goal through the first 30 minutes. Just two minutes into the period, Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI defenseman Ben Pierce stepped into a slapshot from the left point that beat Michaud up high, but the puck rang off the crossbar and out of harm’s way.

“That made me jump,” Michaud said. “You just feel lucky and like you have go on and make the next (save).”

Apparently not to be outdone, Benecke’s shot from the top of the left circle evaded Raye’s glove, but Raye similarly was rescued by the post behind him.

The game took on a chippy edge the longer it went without a goal, including a spirited shoving match between Eagle Nicolas Fontaine and Bandit Bryson Dostie in front of the Messalonskee goal following a faceoff. Both were assessed double minors for roughing.

Certainly, endurance played a part for short benches as the night wore on. Smith split a pair of Bandit defenseman for a partial breakaway in the early stages of the second period, but he didn’t have enough gas left at the end of a long rush to get enough on his close-range wrister to beat Raye cleanly.

And so off the game went to the third period and eventually to overtime, where Caccamo rescued the Eagles.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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