The Cheverus boys’ hockey team hasn’t participated in the quarterfinal round of the postseason since winning the second of back-to-back state championships in March of 2006, but it appears that drought is over.
The Stags entered Monday’s regular season finale at Deering with a 10-7 mark and appear ticketed for the No. 6 spot for the upcoming Western Class A playoffs.
Cheverus started 5-0 and 8-2 this winter, but had lost five of six heading into Saturday’s pivotal home showdown with Portland, a team desperate for a win as well.
The game was nip and tuck throughout, tied at 2-2 after one period and 3-3 after two. Junior Harry Ridge gave the Stags the early lead, but seniors Bronson Guimond and Eddie Apon answered for the Bulldogs before sophomore Liam Fitzpatrick tied the score after 15 minutes of play. After freshman Sterling Weatherbie gave Cheverus a 3-2 advantage, Guimond deadlocked the contest anew. The winner came with just under 12 minutes to go when senior Peter Pothoff beat Portland sophomore goalie Jon Gatti. Stags junior goalie Mike Haas-Zanghi made it stand up and the Stags locked up their postseason trip.
Cheverus finished at Deering Monday and will likely meet Marshwood or Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals Tuesday of next week (on the home ice of the higher rated squad). The Stags lost to Marshwood, 4-1, at home Feb. 10 and didn’t face the Golden Trojans this season.
Cheverus beat Thornton Academy, 10-0, in the 2003 quarterfinals in the only other prior playoff meeting. The Stags have never played Marshwood in the postseason.
The Deering Rams and Portland faced must-win scenarios in their final games to play on. Deering had to beat Cheverus Monday, while Portland was at red-hot Scarborough in a veritable win-or-go-home contest.
The Rams were a 2-7 team after a 4-2 home loss to Noble on Jan. 27, but roared to life by winning seven of eight to have a puncher’s chance of making it to the playoffs in back-to-back years.
The Bulldogs, who had enjoyed a big 5-1 win at Noble last Wednesday, dropped to 6-11 with the loss to Cheverus, their seventh in eight games.
Whichever team winds up with the eighth and final playoff spot (South Portland was also in the equation) will have to go to undefeated, defending state champion Biddeford in the quarterfinals.
The Western A semifinals are Saturday, March 5, at the Colisee in Lewiston. The regional final is in Lewiston Tuesday, March 8. The Class A state final is also in Lewiston, Saturday, March 12, at 6 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @foresports