Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team skates the City Cup after Monday’s 5-2 win over Portland/Deering. The Stags took the coveted prize for the fourth year in a row.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—While it wasn’t as improbable or dramatic as last year, another City Cup championship feels oh so good for Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team.
Monday afternoon at Troubh Ice Arena, the Stags and rival Portland/Deering squared off for the eighth time with a shiny prize on the line and one year after rallying from a four-goal third period deficit to prevail in overtime, Cheverus took control early.
It took a mere 20 seconds for sophomore Colby Anton to score on a rebound to put the Stags on top to stay.
With 10:12 to go in the first period, sophomore Alex Brewer added a rebound goal and after Portland/Deering got on the board midway through the first period, when senior Mason Martell tickled the twine, junior David Woodford finished the feed of junior Jesse Pierce for a 3-1 lead after one period.
Portland/Deering carried play in the second period and pulled within a goal when junior Cam King scored on a rebound, but that’s as close as it would get and the score remained 3-2 after two periods.
Cheverus got some breathing room 1:27 into the third, capitalizing on a major penalty, as Pierce, last year’s hero, scored on the power play.
Senior Ryan McSorley, who was named his team’s Most Valuable Player, added one final rebound tally with 1:30 remaining and the Stags prevailed, 5-2.
Cheverus got goals from five different players, improved to 3-3, won the City Cup for the fourth year in a row and dropped Portland/Deering to 3-1 in the process.
“I’m a senior now and we’ve won it four times,” said McSorley, who won the William B. Troubh Award as Cheverus’ Most Valuable Player of the game. “It’s special to be here with this group and win. This game always has increased intensity and it never gets old. It’s less dramatic than last year, but a win’s a win and we’ll take it.”
The “City Cup” started in 2009-10 as a fundraiser for the Portland Middle School Hockey program, the primary feed for the high school hockey programs in Portland.
Cheverus rallied from a four-goal third period deficit to win last winter’s contest, 7-6, in an overtime thriller (Pierce had the winner) for a 4-3 all-time lead in the series.
This winter, the Stags opened with a 5-3 home loss to defending Class A champion Lewiston. After a 4-2 win at Thornton Academy, Cheverus fell at Biddeford, 3-2. A 6-1 home victory over St. Dom’s was followed last Tuesday by a 3-0 loss at Scarborough.
Portland/Deering missed the playoffs last season, but is off to a hot start this year, beating visiting Cony, 5-4, in overtime, Windham, 6-4, and Marshwood, 11-0.
Tuesday, in front of a packed house, Cheverus raced to a quick lead and that proved to be the difference.
The Stags forced immediate pressure and after McSorley had a shot denied by Portland/Deering senior goalie Sam Segal and junior Cam Dube had the same result, Anton tucked the puck into the net for a 1-0 lead 20 seconds in.
“With the stands full, that fueled us,” McSorley said. “We always try to come out with intensity and have a fast start. That went a long way toward winning this game.”
Cheverus wasn’t content sitting on the lead and soon added a second goal, as sophomore Justin Ray set up senior Sean Walsh for a shot that was saved, but Brewer banged home the rebound to make it 2-0 with 10:12 to go in the first.
Portland/Deering got on the board 7:27 into the first, as Martell took a feed from senior Dom Tocci and beat Stags junior goalie Jason Halvorsen to cut the deficit in half.
Cheverus quickly restored its two-goal lead, as with 5:37 to go in the period, Pierce passed to Woodford, who was all alone at the far post and guided the puck into the net to make it 3-1, a score which held up into the first intermission.
Shots were even, 11-11, in the first period, but the Stags were more tenacious at the net.
As was the case in the first, the second period started with an immediate goal ,but this time it was Portland/Deering capitalizing on the power play, as King rebounded the shot of senior Will Herboldsheimer to make it 3-2.
The rest of the second period was marred by penalties, including a hit from behind transgression on Portland/Deering senior Dylan Wike late, which allowed Cheverus to start the third period on the power play, clinging to its one-goal lead.
The Stags got some breathing room early in the third, as Anton set up Pierce to make it 4-2.
“We had a power play going in and we knew we had to get a goal,” said McSorley. “We did that and that set the tone. It gave us the momentum we needed to finish it off.”
“We were fortunate to have a power play,” said Cheverus coach Dan Lucas. “We got a goal and probably should have had more than one.”
Then, with 1:30 to go, McSorley scored on another rebound and Cheverus went on to the 5-2 victory.
“The game has evolved really well,” Lucas said. “People have worked hard to get people to work hard, Portland, Cheverus, the ADs on both sides. Both schools were well supported. I like this group a lot. It’s a good group of kids who listen. I try to play as many kids as I can. We have a good skating team. If everyone contributes, we think it will help us toward the end.”
Cheverus finished with a 30-25 shots advantage. Halvorsen made 28 saves and Segal stopped 25 shots.
“These games are so emotional,” said Portland/Deering coach Jeff Beaney. “We made some bad decisions and took some penalties. That was the difference in the game. We had a good second period and had the better chances, but it’s always tough when you’re chasing the score. We’ve changed some people around and we were very tentative in our own end early on. It was good to play a good team. They’ve played more games and played a tougher schedule.”
Senior Peter Barry was named Portland/Deering’s MVP.
The teams will play again Jan. 26 and both squads have tough games in the meantime.
Portland/Deering hopes to get back in the win column Thursday when South Portland pays a visit. Saturday brings a trip to Bangor and Scarborough comes to TIA Thursday of next week.
“I didn’t plan on going 20-0 on the year,” Beaney said. “We want to continue getting better. If we don’t get better, we get worse. We have to step up. Hopefully a game like this will help us moving toward the playoffs. These kids stick together. They’re great kids and they play for each other.”
Cheverus goes to South Portland Saturday, then, after an out of state detour, is idle until Jan. 21, when it goes to Gorham.
“We still have work to do,” McSorley said. “We want to play our best hockey at the end of the year. We’re on pace to do that. It won’t get any easier, but we have to treat each game the same. We want to come out and get a win.”
“We want to play the best teams,” Lucas said. “We have the luxury of playing in a tournament Martin Luther King weekend in Chicago. I have no idea the quality of the teams involved, but we want to represent Cheverus well.”
Cheverus sophomore Colby Anton celebrates his goal 20 seconds into the game.
Portland/Deering senior goalie Sam Segal covers up the puck, stymieing Cheverus junior Jesse Pierce.
Cheverus junior David Woodford scores his team’s third goal late in the first period.
Portland/Deering sophomore Donnie Tocci sends Cheverus junior David Woodford into the boards.
Portland/Deering senior Dom Tocci skates past Cheverus junior Marco Giancotti.
Cheverus senior Sean Walsh lines up a shot as Portland/Deering senior goalie Sam Segal awaits.
Portland/Deering sophomore Donnie Tocci is denied by Cheverus junior goalie Jason Halvorsen.
Portland/Deering junior Cam King celebrates his second period goal.