WATERVILLE — The game was a 5-1 win for Kennebec over Messalonskee in Class B North hockey at Alfond Rink. The story on Saturday night, however, was Eagles goalie Eli Michaud.

Michaud recorded 45 saves and was so impressive that the collective cheers — and groans — from the stands only rose with each additional stop he made. The junior netminder was at his best in the second period, when he made 24 of his saves including 11 with the RiverHawks on the power play.

It was, to use the old hockey cliche, “a goaltending clinic.”

“I thought Eli was pretty good,” Kennebec junior defenseman Logan Denis said. “I mean, 50 shots and five goals — that’s pretty impressive. He kept them in the game.”

Denis finished the night with three assists for the RiverHawks (7-5-0), the No. 2 seed in the region entering the weekend. Kennebec’s Cody Pellerin and Tom Tibbetts each had a goal and an assist, while senior defenseman Nick West also had a goal. Thomas Fortin scored his first career goal for the RiverHawks in the third period.

Perhaps the greatest testament to Michaud’s play Saturday — even beyond the cheers from the opposition’s fans — was Kennebec coach Jon Hart’s frustration afterward.

“Honestly, all of our kids need to bury the bean and score goals,” Hart said. “We’ve got kids that are playing a lot of minutes and they need to be able to score those goals. They’re just not putting the puck in the net, and that’s going to hurt us if we can’t bury some pucks.”

“I don’t really pay much attention to that stuff,” Michaud said of the reactions his saves are generating, either from the stands or the opposing bench. “I’m pretty in my zone during the game. If a play stops I might notice, but I don’t really pay much attention. I just let that stuff go.”

In the first eight minutes of the opening period, Denis hit the post with a slap shot and Chase Wheeler rang one off the left pipe with a low shot. After that, it was Michaud’s turn to turn the RiverHawks aside.

Michaud made a point-blank stop on Cooper Hart from the low slot on a Kennebec power play in the second period, he slid over to seal off the left post on Tyler Dunn’s chance minutes later and he made a pad save through a screen on Denis. And all of that was in the second period alone.

In the third, Michaud kicked out Christopher Williams’ shorthanded breakaway.

“During that second period, I was definitely in my comfort zone. I was definitely playing the way I wanted to be playing,” Michaud said. “Just so long as I keep the shots down, I’m not paying attention to other things. I’m just paying attention to the scoreboard and what I do during the game. I look at the shots. If it’s a good shot and it goes in, I understand and let it go. If it’s a bad shot (that goes in), I’ll acknowledge it and try to adjust.”

Kennebec got on the board with a pair of goals 1:25 apart late in the first period, with West finishing off an end-to-end rush at 9:08 for a 1-0 lead and Pellerin following after the RiverHawks put together a string of nice passes.

Tibbetts scored on the power play early in the second to make it 3-0, with John Evans whacking home a rebound at 10:45.

Though it was 4-0, it could have been worse. Kennebec held a 41-5 edge in shots through 30 minutes of play.

“That’s what we’ve been saying all along about Eli,” Messalonskee coach Kevin Castner said. “He finds a way to keep us in games, even ones we probably shouldn’t be in.”

Messalonskee (2-8-0) had two lengthy 5-on-3 power plays in the third period and finally got on the scoreboard when Cole Smith set up Jacob Bernatchez with three minutes remaining in the game.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

 

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