Cheverus hockey reaches regional final; Portland/Deering ousted in semis

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Cheverus’ Luke Church, left, and Ryan McSorley celebrate a McSorley goal during last week’s 5-2 win over South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport in a Class A South quarterfinal. The Stags then edged Scarborough, 4-3, in overtime to advance to the regional final, where they battled Falmouth.

Portland/Deering’s Miki Silva races up the ice with the puck during last week’s 6-5 win over Massabesic/Old Orchard Beach/Bonny Eagle in a Class A South quarterfinal. Portland/Deering then lost to Falmouth in the semifinals.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport and Portland/Deering-Massabesic/Old Orchard Beach/Bonny Eagle game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)

After a week of boys’ hockey playoff excitement, just one team was left standing at press time.

Cheverus, the No. 2 seed in Class A South after a 13-5 regular season, was tested by No. 7 South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport in last Wednesday’s quarterfinal round before going on to a 5-2 victory.

The Stags got an early goal from David Woodford, but SP/Waynflete/Freeport rallied on a goal from Devan Hannan to make it 1-1 after one period. In the second period, Ryan McSorley scored twice for a 3-1 lead. After Gus Lappin scored to cut Cheverus’ lead to one goal early in the third period, the Stags got tallies from Colby Anton and Jesse Pierce and went on to a 5-2 victory, ending SP/Waynflete/Freeport’s season at 7-11-1.

“We knew that if we came out and played our game, we should be able to win, but we took them lightly to start,” McSorley said. “We started to pick it up as the game went on.”

“Today was a good lesson because anything can happen in the playoffs and now we have to get ready for the next one,” said Cheverus coach Dan Lucas.

The next one came Saturday night at the Colisee in Lewiston, where the Stags faced third-ranked Scarborough, the two-time defending regional champion.

Cheverus fell behind, 1-0, early, then got a goal from Sean Walsh to make it 1-1 after one period. In the second, McSorley gave the Stags the lead, but the Red Storm answered and it was tied again heading for the fateful third period. There, Scarborough went ahead and held a 3-2 lead until late in regulation, when Anton tied the game on the power play. The contest went to overtime, where Walsh won it, 4-3.

Cheverus improved to 15-5 and advanced to meet top-ranked Falmouth (15-3-1) in Tuesday evening’s Class A South Final (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Yachtsmen won both meetings this winter: 5-0 at home Feb. 14 and 4-3 in Portland nine days later. The Stags had won both prior playoff meetings: 6-5 in the 2005 Western A semifinals and 5-2 in the 2006 Western A semifinals, the most recent postseason encounter.

If Cheverus sprung the upset and advanced to the Class A state final, it would meet either defending champion Lewiston (18-1) or Bangor (13-7) Saturday at 6 p.m. in Lewiston. The Stags lost, 5-3, to the visiting Blue Devils in the season opener way back on Dec. 10. Cheverus is 3-2 all-time versus Lewiston in the playoffs with a 3-1 victory in the 2006 Class A state game the most recent. The Stags didn’t face the Rams this year and won the only prior playoff encounter, 4-3, in overtime, in the 2000 Western A preliminary round.

Portland/Deering wasn’t as fortunate, although it did produce plenty of drama during its playoff stay.

After a 10-7-1- regular season, Portland/Deering earned the No. 4 seed in Class A South and last Wednesday, edged No. 5 Massabesic/Old Orchard Beach/Bonny Eagle, or the MOB, 6-5, in a thriller that literally wasn’t decided until the final horn.

Portland/Deering scored first on freshman Miki Silva’s goal, but MOB came back to tie it, 1-1, after one period. Donnie Tocci’s goal put Portland/Deering back on top in the second period, but MOB tied it again, setting the stage for a frenetic, unforgettable third period. Just 28 seconds, Mason Martell gave Portland/Deering the lead, but MOB got three straight goals to seemingly seize control.

But Portland/Deering roared back.

Tocci scored with 4:26 left to provide hope and with 1:05 to go, after Portland/Deering pulled goalie Sam Segal, Cam King scored to tie it.

Then, time wound down and it appeared the game was heading to overtime, but with a fraction of a second remaining, Dom Tocci poked the puck into the net and despite the horn sounding, the goal stood and Portland/Deering earned its first quarterfinal round victory in 14 seasons, 6-5.

“We had the faceoff and I was just trying to push the puck forward,” Dom Tocci said. “It trickled out and my brother caught it. A kid blocked it and it came right to me and I just threw it on and hoped. I didn’t know if there was any time left. Luckily I came through. Sometimes the puck just finds you.”

“It’s huge,” said Portland/Deering coach Jeff Beaney. “I’ve coached 31 years and I’ve never seen a comeback like this. It says a lot about our desire and our will. The seniors’ goal from the start of the year was to have a home playoff game. We’re not the same Bulldogs team anymore.”

Saturday night in Lewiston, Portland/Deering met top-ranked Falmouth and hung tough for awhile.

Portland/Deering struck first, as Jake Luce scored, but the Yachtsmen got the next two goals. Then, in a repeat of the quarterfinal, Portland/Deering beat the buzzer again, as Martell scored to make it 2-2 after one period.

“It’s the kids’ nature, we’re going to attack when we can and play to the buzzer,” Beaney said.

Falmouth got a goal in the second period and two more in the third and this time, Portland/Deering couldn’t answer and its season ended at 11-8-1 with a 5-2 setback.

“If I am fighting Muhammad Ali — we are in (the building he knocked out Sonny Liston) — you aren’t going to out-point him,” Beaney said. “You are going to have to knock him out. We didn’t get the knockout blow basically. We won five games last year, I was a new coach and we did a lot new things and these kids bought into it. They played with a lot of class all the way to the end. They didn’t get frustrated and they kept trying to get that next goal.”

“You can’t take them lightly, they deserve respect,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton, of Portland/Deering. “I like how these kids play. They have a bright future and I’m really glad to see that.”

Sun Journal staff writer Nathan Fournier contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.