Cheverus hockey's run ends in semifinals

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(For the complete Cheverus-Biddeford game story, with photos, see theforecaster.net)

Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team packed a lot of drama into its playoff run, but unfortunately for the Stags, their stay only lasted two games.

After rallying from a four-goal deficit to stun Biddeford in last Monday’s quarterfinals, Cheverus met its match again in defending champion Scarborough, falling in Saturday’s semifinals.

What a comeback

After an 8-9-1 regular season, Cheverus earned the No. 4 seed in Class A South, but that meant the Stags had to host dangerous No. 5 Biddeford in the quarterfinals.

The teams split during the regular season, as the Stags lost at Biddeford, 5-3, two days before Christmas and beat the visiting Tigers, 3-2, Jan. 30. The teams had played twice previously in the playoffs, but it had been awhile. Cheverus took the 2001 quarterfinals, 10-1, and won again in the 2002 semifinals, 3-2.

This one started inauspiciously for the Stags and got worse before they produced one of the great comebacks in program history in a game enjoyed by a big crowd at Troubh Ice Arena.

After Biddeford scored twice in the first period, the Tigers added two more goals in the second and Cheverus coach Dan Lucas replaced starting goalie Jason Halvorsen with Colby Benway.

“(Jason’s) played great for us all year,” Lucas said. “He just had a bit of an off day. I figured I’d do it now and get the team to figure there was a still a chance.”

For whatever reason, moments later, the offense came to life.

Chris Vallee got the Stags on the board and Jesse Pierce and Vallee added goals to make it a one-goal game, 4-3, after two periods.

Cheverus completed the comeback 10 seconds into the third, when Mike Hatch found the net, but with 10:19 to play, Biddeford threatened to make the comeback moot when it went back on top, 5-4.

After overcoming a four-goal deficit, being down by a mere goal was no obstacle for the Stags and with 8:28 to play, Sean Walsh tied the game again.

After Benway turned aside several good Tigers’ chances, the game would go to “sudden victory” overtime, where the Stags completed their comeback for the ages.

On the power play, 98 seconds into the extra session, Hatch played the hero and Cheverus survived and advanced with a most improbable 6-5 triumph.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hatch. “It was a great comeback. We got the right bounce of the puck. Once we got a goal, we were buzzing and ready to go. We never give up, the coaches never give up.”

“Going into overtime, the mood on the bench was that we would get it right away,” Benway said. “I was so excited for us. I’m so happy we came back. We have a lot of mental toughness. We’ve battled back. Our ability to come back is really good.”

“I wasn’t kind to them after the first period,” Lucas added. “I told them to win the second period. It took a little while to get the first one. We had the same type of game earlier in the year against Portland (rallying from a 6-2 third period deficit to win, 7-6, in overtime). We just had to keep going.”

The Stags finished with a 26-24 shots advantage. They got seven saves from Halvorsen and a dozen from Benway, who was huge in relief.

“The team was struggling a little bit and I knew I had to make a couple saves to get us going,” Benway said. “I made a few and we started scoring. I had a lot of adrenaline. I just reacted. I wanted to give the team the best chance I could. At 4-1, I saw the team perk up and we just kept going. We’d come back before and we had to keep pushing. We knew we’d break them down eventually.”

Biddeford finished 8-11.

Red Storm roadblock

Last winter, Scarborough ended Cheverus’ title dreams with a 5-2 win in the regional final en route to its first Class A championship.

This season, the Stags lost, 5-0, at Scarborough Dec. 8, then almost beat the Red Storm in the rematch Jan. 23 before settling for a 2-2 tie after a late Scarborough goal.

The Red Storm had won four of the previous five playoff encounters and did it again Saturday at the Colisee in Lewiston.

After Scarborough took a 1-0 lead in the second period, Pierce tied the score, but the Red Storm retook the lead, 2-1, before the end of the frame, then went up 3-1 early in the third. Cheverus couldn’t generate any more offense and Scarborough tacked on an empty net goal to prevail, 4-1, and end the Stags’ season at 9-10-1.

Trickey honored

While Cheverus’ season is over, senior standout Luke Trickey learned last week that he is a semifinalist for the prestigious Travis Roy Award, named for the former North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth High star who suffered a paralyzing injury just 11 seconds into his first college shift at Boston University.

Trickey is joined as a Class A South semifinalist by Biddeford’s Kerry Crepeau, Scarborough’s Matt Caron and Thornton Academy’s Walsh Troiani-Gagner.

The award is handed out annually by the Class A Coaches Association to a senior who embodies off-ice sportsmanship with on-ice performance.

The winner will be named later this month.

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

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Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team celebrates a goal during last week’s dramatic 6-5 come-from-behind overtime win over Biddeford in the Class A South quarterfinals. The Stags’ good fortune came to an end in Saturday’s semifinals, however, with a 4-1 loss to defending state champion Scarborough.

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