The Cheverus/Kennebunk girls’ hockey team celebrates at the final horn of its 1-0 win over St. Dom’s Saturday afternoon. Cheverus/Kennebunk snapped the Saints’ three-year, 29-game win streak.
BIDDEFORD—Two cousins who have played a lot of hockey together in their young lives produced a goal which allowed the Cheverus/Kennebunk co-op girls’ hockey team to end St. Dom’s’ lengthy win streak Saturday afternoon at the Harold Alfond Forum on the campus of the University of New England.
Cheverus/Kennebunk, which lost by nine goals to the two-time champion Saints a year ago, came out strong and took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when junior Zoe Mazur set up freshman Emma McCauley, her cousin, for a goal.
Cheverus/Kennebunk had ample opportunities to extend their advantage, but never did and while St. Dom’s had some looks of its own, Cheverus/Kennebunk controlled the puck most of the way and relied on its defense and senior goalie Anna Smith to frustrate the Saints as it went on to an inspirational 1-0 victory.
Cheverus/Kennebunk improved to 6-0 on the season, dropped St. Dom’s to 3-1 and in the process, ended the Saints’ state record, three-year win streak at 29 games.
“This game has been on our calendar,” said Cheverus/Kennebunk coach Scott Rousseau. “We knew we had an opportunity to end possibly the longest win streak in the history of Maine. We embraced it. It’s a great day for Cheverus/Kennebunk girls’ hockey.”
St. Dom’s has had no peer in girls’ hockey the past two seasons, winning the 2016 and 2017 state titles. A year ago, the Saints didn’t lose a game and in the early going this winter, they had been unbeatable, defeating Winslow, defending South Region champion Falmouth and Scarborough by a composite 30-2 margin to extend to make it 29 victories in a row, eclipsing the old mark of 24 shared by Cheverus from 2009-10 and Scarborough from 2013-14.
Cheverus/Kennebunk was a 9-10 team last winter, losing to York in the South Region quarterfinals, but this winter, the squad has surged to the top of the region, opening with decisive wins over Falmouth (6-0), Yarmouth/Freeport (11-0), Brunswick (10-3), Scarborough (7-2) and Portland/Deering (6-0).
A year ago, St. Dom’s won, 9-0, in Portland.
This time around, Cheverus/Kennebunk had the last laugh, handing St. Dom’s its first setback since an 8-4 home loss to Greely Jan. 25, 2016.
It was clear from the drop of the puck that Cheverus/Kennebunk was on a mission and after some early chances failed to beat Saints senior goalie Payton Winslow, the game’s lone goal came at the 7:17 mark of the first period.
Mazur set it up, racing into the offensive zone, drawing a defender, then setting up McCauley, who ripped a shot past Winslow for a 1-0 lead.
“I knew I didn’t have a great angle to shoot,” said Mazur. “I was hoping someone else was coming. I saw a glimpse of (Emma). She’s big, so I could see her. I tried to give her an angle. We’ve played together since we were little.”
“Zoe made a really good pass and we just connected,” McCauley said. “We’ve played together a long time. I put the puck where I wanted.”
“It was very big to score first,” added Rousseau. “The girls thought we could win, but they didn’t believe. Last year was on their minds. That first goal gave us a lot of confidence.
“Zoe was a machine today. She had the assist and she logged 38 or 40 minutes. She led by example. She was the first star of the game for sure.
“I’m glad Emma listened to me when I told her to cut her stick. That was a terrific shot.”
Late in the first period, the Saints had their first good chance, but Smith denied junior Avery Lutrzykowski.
With 51.5 seconds left, Mazur was sent to the penalty box for tripping and St. Dom’s earned a power play which carried over to the second period and nearly led to the tying goal.
Just 36 seconds into a back-and-forth second period, junior Emma Theriault had a shot saved by Smith.
The Saints kept the pressure on and seconds later, Smith denied a bid from senior Katya Fons, Lutrzykowski sent a rebound wide and a follow-up bid by senior Callie Samson hit the post.
After freshman Lucia Pompeo missed wide, Cheverus/Kennebunk went on the power play at 1:40. After Mazur had a couple shots saved, sophomore Hannah Woodford was denied as well.
St. Dom’s then went back on the attack and with 11:14 left in the period, Smith robbed Lutrzykowski after she made a nice move to elude a defender.
At the 4:40 mark, Mazur shot wide and on the rebound, sophomore Abby Lamontagne had a chance to double the lead, but she hit the post.
After Winslow twice saved bids from Lamontagne, Lutrzykowski was denied by Smith at the other end.
Late in the period, Smith stopped a shot by Lutrzykowski and after Cheverus/Kennebunk went on the power play, junior Sophia Pompeo shot high, Woodford was denied by Winslow and Lucia Pompeo shot high, keeping it a one-goal game heading to the second intermission.
Cheverus/Kennebunk fought hard for an insurance goal in the third period, but never got it. It didn’t matter, however, as St. Dom’s never found the net either.
Early in the period, Sophia Pompeo was denied by Winslow on a rush.
With 9:11 to play, Cheverus/Kennebunk was called for too many men on the ice, giving the Saints a power play, but they couldn’t register a shot.
St. Dom’s would get a chance with 6:47 on the clock, but Smith denied Lutrzykowski. Twenty-five seconds later, Lutrzykowski hit the outside of the post.
After Winslow robbed Lamontagne’s backhanded bid, McCauley got a pass from Lamontagne and had a good look, but shot just wide.
With 3:35 remaining, the Saints were called for a bench penalty, giving Cheverus/Kennebunk a chance to essentially clinch it, but Winslow denied Lamontagne before Lamontagne was sent off for slashing.
With 2:16 left, St. Dom’s got its final chance to draw even, but Theriault’s shot was saved by Smith.
Lucia Pompeo had a chance to deliver the coup de grace with 1:44 remaining, when she broke in alone, but Winslow again made the save.
Cheverus/Kennebunk then ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 1-0 victory.
“This means a lot,” Mazur said. “We’ve been working really hard. It’s exciting. Holding them off was tiring. It took a team effort.”
“The team was really pumped since the beginning of the season for this game,” McCauley said. “We were all looking forward to it. The energy was really high. We’ve prepared for it for awhile. We knew what they had. It was frustrating not scoring more. We kept our energy up though. We all supported each other. Our defense is great. I think it’s the best in the state. All those girls work really hard.”
“This is a big step for us,” Rousseau added. “They’re a great hockey team with great players. I’m really proud of how hard my girls competed. There aren’t a lot of teams even want to play St. Dom’s, but we raised our hands. We talked about staying composed. We had to make sure not to turn the puck over and to get the puck deep. I think we won the game by possessing in their zone. It’s good to play defense 200 feet from your goalie.”
Cheverus/Kennebunk finished with a 27-11 shots advantage and got 11 saves from Smith.
“Anna made some big saves and that gave her confidence,” Rousseau said.
Winslow made 26 saves for St. Dom’s.
While St. Dom’s looks to bounce back next Saturday at undefeated Lewiston, Cheverus/Kennebunk hopes to keep its good times rolling Thursday when York pays a visit.
This could wind up being a special season, but Cheverus/Kennebunk knows it still has a long way to go and a lot to improve upon.
“We have to work on the basics and try to get stronger,” Mazur said.
“We have to improve on everything,” McCauley said. “We need to take more steps toward the playoffs. We have to get better every single day in practice.”
“We have to come to practice with a good work ethic,” Rousseau added. “My job is to make them an honest hockey team and not get lazy in practice.”