Friday, March 8, 2024

Trail Blazers hockey team leaves it all on ice in playoff quarterfinals but falls to Lewiston

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle Trail Blazer hockey team has had an incredible season with 11 wins – the most in Trail Blazer history. Their season came to an end on Friday, March 1 at The Colisee Arena in Lewiston when eighth seeded Trail Blazers played top-seeded Lewiston. The Trail Blazers fought for three periods, but Lewiston won 7-4.

Trail Blazer junior Philip Traina of Windham heads toward the
goal during a quarterfinal playoff hockey game against
Lewiston at The Colisee in Lewiston on March 1.
“The mentality going in was [Lewiston] is a fast team, we got to get on them quick,” said Trail Blazers coach Bobby Fothergill. “When we did that and took their time and space away, we had some good opportunities. We tried to match their intensity, match their skating – we did it somewhat, I thought we did it better in the third than any other period. We missed a few responsibilities like third guy high, we were sucked too low, we gave up the middle of the ice, the neural zone ... that’s something we tried to work on. We didn’t execute the full 45 minutes.”

The Trail Blazers took the ice in the first period with hustle. Windham senior goalie Jacob Marston had several great saves. Lewiston scored early. With 5:03 left in the first period, Windham junior Philip Traina scored assisted by Windham junior Shaun Traina and Bonny Eagle senior Aiden Toy.

After one period, Lewiston led 3-1.

“We thought we had the better team,” said Philip Traina. “The scoreboard didn’t show we played a good game, we got some bad bounces. The shots were pretty even, and the [scoreboard] didn’t show how hard we were working out there. It’s their barn ... it’s a tough environment ... I think it was a good start for us, to get some playoff experience, I think we played alright. I think we had good zone time; honestly, we were outplaying them, the bounces just didn’t go our way. We came in this season prepared and we executed – we ran into a good first round opponent, and that’s just how it is sometimes.”

In the second period, Trail Blazers defense remained powerful. Shaun Traina scored while assisted by Philip Traina and Bonny Eagle senior and captain Lucas LaForest. The Trail Blazers had lots of shots on goal, but nothing landed. Defense held Lewiston to two goals. It was 5-2 Lewiston after two periods.

“We knew that Lewiston was a beatable team, but we were just a little jittery coming into it,” said LaForest. “We came into it with energy and just wanted to outwork [Lewiston] in every aspect of the game; we outworked sometimes in the game, but other times we kind of let up – that led to goals [for Lewiston]. We never gave up.”

LaForest attributes the strong season to their coaches and the guys wanting to get better every day, taking practices seriously, giving it their all every time they were on the ice.

“It’s a tough, tough game,” said Windham junior Shaun Traina. “I feel like we gave it our best effort though there were a bunch of critical mistakes that we made. I’m not too mad about the result today, it was a great season for the boys. We had high expectations, but Lewiston is a great team. Our power play went pretty good, we had a good forecheck, a lot of energy, a lot of guys ... really helping today. This year we formed a family ... had a lot more fun.”

There was no giving up at the start of the third period. Shaun Traina scored on a power play assisted by Philip Traina and Bonny Eagle sophomore Mason Caron. Shortly before the end of the game, Toy scored on an assist by Windham senior Tobias Perkins.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this group ... the most wins we ever had in a season before was seven,” said Fothergill. “They went to an 11- [8] record this year, they worked hard, they were in every game. We have 11 juniors coming back next year and we’re going to be right back in the mix again next year. The goal is to build and be better than we were this year.” <

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