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Yarmouth junior Dom Morrill is robbed point blank by Brunswick junior goalie Riley Kirk in the teams’ season opener Saturday. Kirk made 28 saves to help the Dragons salvage a 2-2 tie against the defending Class B South champion Clippers.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
YARMOUTH—The Brunswick and Yarmouth boys’ hockey teams had vastly different reactions to Saturday’s season-opening 2-2 tie at Travis Roy Arena.
The Dragons, thanks to a late short-handed tally and a clutch penalty kill late in overtime, were more than pleased to split Heal Points, but the defending Class B South champion Clippers felt they let a win slip away and they fear that might haunt them down the road.
After an even but scoreless first period, Yarmouth struck first when senior Chris Romano scored on a rebound early in the second, but in a sign of things to come, Brunswick answered quickly and tied the score when junior Andrew Eno tickled the twine.
The Clippers went on top again, 2-1, when senior Owen Ramsay scored from an impossible angle with 6:46 to play and when they went on the power play with 3:21 remaining, they had a chance to ice the victory, but instead, Dragons sophomore Jacob Doring broke in and finished shorthanded, tying the game and forcing overtime.
There, Yarmouth went on the power play again with 2:58 remaining in the eight-minute session, but despite some golden chances, couldn’t solve Brunswick junior goalie Riley Kirk and the teams settled for a draw.
The teams won’t play again this year, in the regular season anyway, and both showed glimpses of why they should be in the title hunt all year.
“I’m never happy with a tie, but the way it happened, to come back, we’ll take it,” said Dragons coach Bill Bodwell. “I’m proud of the way we fought back. We were down and scored a goal to tie it, then we fought off the man-down at the end. They played in the state final last year and it was a good benchmark for us.”
“I’m definitely disappointed,” said Clippers coach Dave St. Pierre. “For stretches of the game I thought we played well. We had a lot of open looks. It’s a game I think we’ll look back on and wish we’d finished it off the right way.”
Yarmouth came as close to winning a championship without actually capturing it as possible last winter when it took Waterville into double overtime in the Class B Final before suffering an agonizing 3-2 loss.
Despite being hard-hit by graduation, the Clippers believe they can get back to the big stage this time around and finish the job.
Brunswick lost to Cape Elizabeth in the Class B South quarterfinals last season and expects to be in the mix again.
Last winter, the host Dragons beat Yarmouth in the teams’ lone meeting, 4-2.
Saturday afternoon, the Clippers hoped to avenge that loss and beat Brunswick for the first time since Dec. 11, 2013 (5-4 in overtime), but they couldn’t quite accomplish it, despite having 53 minutes to do so.
This one was tight from the get go.
In the first period, Yarmouth had more possession and shots, but the Dragons had more good opportunities.
Just 41 seconds in, Brunswick, Doring broke in, but Yarmouth junior goalie Dan Latham made the save.
With 11:27 to play in the first period, the Clippers first good chance came off the stick of junior Cooper May, but Kirk denied him.
With 9 minutes left, Latham robbed junior Jared Hummer right in front and moments later, robbed Doring.
After a Brunswick penalty, Yarmouth junior Dom Morrill had a shot saved, Ramsay sent a bid wide and May’s follow up shot was denied.
With 4:07 to go, May had a great look, but his shot rang off the far post.
Down the stretch, Latham denied sophomore Jack St. Pierre and at the other end, senior Bill Jacobs just missed on a shot from in close.
With 21 seconds remaining, Clippers senior Bennett Travers took a penalty for elbowing and the Dragons started the second period on the power play.
They couldn’t convert and the score remained 0-0.
With 12:48 left, May rushed in, was brought down in front of the goalie and no penalty was called.
Yarmouth kept on the attack and was finally rewarded with 11:32 to go, as after Morrill sent a shot on goal which was deflected to Kirk, the rebound came to May, whose shot was saved, but Romano was there to bang home the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
Brunswick quickly answered as with 10:55 remaining in the second, Eno sent a wrister through traffic which eluded Latham to tie the score, 1-1.
Latham denied Eno’s next shot and a bid at the other end by Jacobs was denied by Kirk.
With 1:22 to go in the period, Ramsay was sent off for a cross-checking penalty and the Dragons had one chance to go ahead, but with 1:06 left, Eno’s shot through traffic was saved.
Brunswick started the third period on the power play, but again couldn’t score.
With 10:59 to play in regulation, Yarmouth freshman defenseman Spencer King came up with a huge play as he swept the puck away after a shot from Doring got past Latham.
After Kirk denied shots by Ramsay and junior Graden Caulfield, the Clippers went on the power play, but junior Joe Truesdale’s rush was broken up in front and Yarmouth took a penalty to create a 4-on-4 situation.
Which wound up working in its favor.
With 6:46 remaining, the Clippers retook the lead as Ramsay sent the puck in from the side and it somehow got past Kirk to make it 2-1.
Yarmouth looked to hold on behind its defense and Latham, who denied Eno, Hummer and Doring.
The Clippers then nearly put it away, but Kirk kept the Dragons alive by stopping a shot from Morrill, then sprawling to deny a rebound from Romano. Kirk then twice robbed May to keep it 2-1.
With 3:01 left, Brunswick was penalized for having too many men on the ice and it appeared Yarmouth was on the brink of putting the win away, but with 2:28 showing, Doring got the puck behind the defense, went in one-on-one with Latham and after initially hesitating to make the goalie move first, Doring buried his shot to make it 2-2.
“It’s first game of the season type stuff,” St. Pierre said. “Special teams usually take some time to gel. We had a good power play moving there. We were in great defensive position, we just forgot about playing defense a little bit. They created an opportunity and capitalized. It gives us something to work on.”
The game would go to an eight-minute overtime, but there would be no resolution.
After Kirk denied Morrill, a rush by Travers was broken up.
With 2:58 to go, Hummer was sidelined for the rest of the contest with a five-minute boarding penalty and Yarmouth would pepper Kirk the rest of the way, but he didn’t buckle.
With 1:51 to go, Kirk denied Jacobs.
With 1:19 left, it was Ramsay looking to end it, but the save was made.’
After Jacobs shot wide, May had two looks to deliver a victory, but Kirk stopped them both and the teams had to settle for the 2-2 tie.
“We didn’t hang our heads (after they tied it),” Romano said. “It was an unlucky bounce that went over a couple sticks. We had to fight back. Our first power play unit has been clicking. It’s too bad we couldn’t put it in the back of the net. We came out with a lot of young guys playing their first varsity game and battled, We always play them tough, but they seem to have our number. It came down to little things. In all honesty, it’s a team we should have beaten, but things just didn’t go our way today.”
“It’s always difficult with special teams to click like that at the beginning,” Bodwell said. “To fight off the penalty and also get the shorthanded goal was helpful.”
Yarmouth had a 30-21 shots advantage and got 19 saves from Latham, but couldn’t convert on the power play.
“I thought we moved the puck well on the last power play and we got some really good looks, but Kirk made some really big saves,” St. Pierre said. “It’s probably two of the better goalies in the league. They both made saves when they had to. They both played well. Cooper played a really good game. Bill stepped up, Chris Romano. Owen on defense played fantastic for us tonight. The guys we needed to step up, stepped up for us.”
Kirk made 28 saves to help Brunswick earn a share of the Heal Points.
“He’s a talented goalie,” Bodwell said. “He’s going to be a big difference-maker this year. He’ll keep playing well.”
Brunswick looks to get in the win column Tuesday when it welcomes Gardiner for its home opener.
“Class B South is very even,” Bodwell said. “We have a lot of fun playing in the division. We could win or lose just about every game we’re in. Next week we’ve got South Portland, Cheverus and Gardiner and Gardiner is going to be very strong. It doesn’t get any easier.”
Yarmouth is at Maranacook Tuesday, then travels to Waterville for a state game rematch Saturday.
“We have so much to work on, but I can’t say enough about the work of every kid on this team in practice,” said Romano. “We just have to come back next week and try and get a win.”
“Our younger guys need to grow a little bit,” St. Pierre said. “Class B South has a lot of good teams this year. We’re going to be neck-and-neck and in for battles every night. We have to learn from this one, put it behind us and look forward to the next game.”
Brunswick junior Quinn Solberg slows the rush of Yarmouth senior Bill Jacobs.
Yarmouth junior John Decker defends a shot.
Brunswick junior Jared Hummer makes a move as Yarmouth senior Owen Ramsay defends.
Yarmouth junior Cooper May lines up a shot.
Brunswick junior Andrew Eno shoots as Yarmouth junior Graden Caulfield defends.