It was a case of Deja Vu in the Class B State Championship game Saturday afternoon at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine.
Waterville defeated Yarmouth 3-2 in come-from-behind fashion in the regular season and the same thing happened in the State Championship as the Purple Panthers once again erased a two-goal deficit to the Clippers en route to their 21st State Championship in the 3-2 double overtime victory.
It was their first State Title since 2009 when they were still in Class A. They moved down to Class B in 2012.
“There’s no quit in these guys,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “We can score goals and there’s no quit. They played a hell of a game over there. We kept plugging at it and eventually it went our way.”
Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre grasped for words after the game in the locker room.
“I struggled to find what to talk about,” St. Pierre said. “The leadership of this team we had this year, we are talking about once a generation players. There’s nothing you can say that can take the pain away. I told them how proud I was of them, how much I appreciated spending time with them to help build the legacy they are walking away with. That’s impressive.”
Andrew Rodrigue ended the game with 2:47 remaining in the second session of overtime when he fired a point shot in which Yarmouth goalie Dan Latham never saw. Nick Denis and Matt Jolicoeur set it up.
Rodrigue said he has been working on his shot all his life.
“I have had an ice rink (in the backyard) all my years growing up,” Rodrigue said. “I have been out there working on my shot, staying up to midnight on school nights, practicing and practicing.”
Rodrigue was the focus of the opposition.
“We talked about him this week in practice about trying to shut him down,” St. Pierre said. “He’s a hell of a hockey player. He reminds me a lot of Walter (Conrad). He has a lot of the same balance to his game, he’s a really good kid. He scores big goals for that team and they won that draw real clean and he had a chance to get that shot off.”
Yarmouth with 0-for-4 with the man advantage while Waterville was 0-for-1.
“I thought we had a good opportunity there,” St. Pierre said of the 5-on-3 power play. “Credit to Waterville, they killed that penalty really well. They had to be aggressive when they had to be. We had a couple of good looks, but we couldn’t get that converted.”
Rodrigue had another shot on net that was kicked out to Cooper Hart who put home rebound into the half open cage 6:38 into the third period.
Noah Grondin went to the box for tripping as a Waterville player tried to skate through his stick just before the five-minute mark of the first period. Yarmouth (16-5-0) responded with a shorthanded goal when Walter Conrad fired a shot on net and Patrick Grant put home the loose rebound at the 6:15 mark.
Waterville controlled the play for the next six-plus minutes as the puck never left the Yarmouth zone unless it was an icing by the Clippers. Grondin changed the momentum when he picked the pocket of a Waterville player in the neutral zone. He skated into the offensive zone and shot went past Nathan Pinette at the 11:05 mark of the opening period.
The Purple Panthers went into the intermission down by one when Rodrigue found Michael Bolduc with 2:17 left to play in the period.
“I told them to keep working hard and the bounces sooner than later, will go our way,” Martin said. “We did late in that first period kind of help with the momentum going in the second.”
Pinette stopped 28 of the 30 shots he saw while Latham made 29 saves for Yarmouth.