THE PLAYOFFS Scarborough hockey falls at St. Dom's
SP also eliminated in quarterfinals; Cape Elizabeth battles Leavitt Saturday
By Michael Hoffer
The 2009 hockey playoffs are in full swing and there's already been an abundance of drama.
The puck dropped Saturday with the Western Class A preliminary round where No. 7 South Portland squeaked past No. 10 Noble 3-2 in double-overtime for just the second postseason victory in school history.
The Red Riots were then unceremoniously eliminated by No. 2 Falmouth, 10-0 on Monday in the quarterfinals.
The fun continued Tuesday in Lewiston. Fifth-ranked Scarborough had to face No. 4 St. Dom's on the Saints' home ice and was done in by too many penalties during a 7-4 setback.
In Western Class B, after a long layoff, second-ranked Cape Elizabeth begin its quest for a title Saturday at 8 p.m., at the Portland Ice Arena against No. 3 Leavitt.
One and done
Scarborough went 11-6-1 in the regular year, including a pair of victories over Biddeford, Falmouth and Thornton Academy.
The Red Storm lost twice to St. Dom's, 5-4 at the Colisee on Jan. 12 and 4-3 at home Feb. 7. Scarborough wound up with the fifth seed, while the Saints earned the fourth.
Before making the trip to Lewiston, Scarborough hosted No. 12 Bonny Eagle Saturday and cruised to an 11-0 victory behind three goals and two assists from senior Jacob Rutt, two goals from senior Neil Ravin and four assists from sophomore Zach Pettingill.
Scarborough and St. Dom's had met once prior in the playoffs, an 8-1 St. Dom's win in the 2005 semifinals.
This one was closer.
The Red Storm got the jump just 23 seconds in when senior Nick Tolman sent a seemingly innocent shot on goal that somehow eluded Saints' junior goalie Shayne Curtis.
The lead lasted all of 82 seconds as St. Dom's answered when senior Richard Paradis sent a long pass ahead to to senior Casey Parker who beat Scarborough junior goalie Matt Mayo.
The Red Storm then got in penalty trouble and fell behind.
With 5:25 left in the first, Scarborough went down two players and the Saints responded 38 seconds later and went up 2-1 when senior C.J. Bergeron threaded the needle with a gorgeous pass to senior Ben Randall who tucked it home. Still up a man 45 seconds later, St. Dom's took a 3-1 lead when Parker rebounded Paradis' shot into the net.
Scarborough got back within 3-2 with 2:31 to go when senior Hunter Wood tipped home senior Jake Rutt's shot.
The Saints had a 10-6 edge in shots in the first 15 minutes.
The Red Storm dominated the early action in the second, but sent several shots wide. They finally pulled even on the power play with 9:09 to go when Rutt went end to end and left Curtis helpless.
After another Scarborough penalty, St. Dom's retook the lead. With 1:28 remaining in the period, Bergeron made a nice move around a defender and beat Mayo through a screen. Parker and Randall were credited with assists.
The Red Storm looked as if they'd tied things up just 13 seconds later, but the goal was waved off due to a high stick and Scarborough was down 4-3 after two.
The Saints had a 9-6 edge in shots in the second.
St. Dom's quickly added a fourth power-play goal to start the fourth. One minute, 10 seconds in, Paradis rifled a wrister from just inside the blue line that Mayo couldn't snare and Scarborough was on the ropes, down 5-3.
The Red Storm responded with 11:35 to play when Tolman rebounded home a Wood shot that had deflected off the boards. But just 19 seconds later, Parker skated in and completed his hat trick to make it 6-4.
With 5:35 left, Paradis fed Bergeron behind the defense. Bergeron skated in and did the rest, scoring to make it 7-4 and put the game out of reach.
The Saints finished with a 31-18 shots advantage. Mayo made 24 saves, Curtis stopped 14. The ultimate difference was the power play as St. Dom's scored four times, while Scarborough only managed one goal in five attempts.
"They executed when they had to and we didn't execute on our chances," said Scarborough coach Jay Mazur. "You can look at and complain about penalties, but when two of your leaders have nine of them, it hurts. We went away from our game plan. We weren't undisciplined, we put ourselves in the situation of allowing ourselves to get beat and trying to play catchup. It's a learning experience."
Scarborough's season ended at 12-7-1.
"Well lose some key players like Hunter Wood, Jimmy Soules, Nick Tolman and Neil Ravin that the players looked to for leadership. We bring a lot of firepower back next year. This was a good experience. You have to play as a team to win in the postseason. I want them to remember this feeling."
A year to remember
The South Portland program had arguably its finest season in 2008-09. Second-year coach Joe Robinson continued to build a contender and the Red Riots went 14-3-1.
The Red Riots wound up with the No. 7 seed and hosted No. 10 Noble in the preliminary round Saturday afternoon.
South Portland had its way with the Knights in the regular year, winning 5-1 at home and 4-2 on the road. But the third time – the teams' first-ever playoff meeting – wouldn't come easily. The Red Riots had to go to double-overtime before finally surviving 3-2. Robert Hannigan delivered the game-winner.
"(Noble's) goalie is really good," said Robinson. "He's starting in the Senior All-Star Game. He essentially kept them in it. We outshot them 48-16. It was a little too close for comfort, but we finally got one in."
With the win the Red Riots advanced to play at No. 3 Falmouth in the quarterfinals Monday. The teams didn't play this year and had no prior playoff history.
South Portland's season came to a quick end as Yachtsmen junior Dan Hanley had a natural hat trick in the first period and Falmouth coasted to a 10-0 victory, leaving the Red Riots 15-4-1 in the final accounting.
"That was the difference between an experienced Tier I team and a team that's growing," Robinson said. "We ran into penalty problems in the first period. Five-on-five we did pretty well. We ran out of gas and were overmatched.
"We're still a couple years away. We're young. We have just three seniors and one junior. The rest are freshmen and sophomores. We're going in the right direction. It was good for the kids to see what it's like to play at (Falmouth's) level. We reached our goals of making the playoffs and winning a game."
Cape Elizabeth has been right in the middle of several exciting games this winter. The Capers stumbled late in the year, losing at Greely and York, but still wound up second in Western B with a 12-6 mark.
Cape Elizabeth beat No. 3 Leavitt twice this season, 2-0 at home Dec. 20 and 4-3 at Leavitt Feb. 11.
Based on those results, the Capers won't be looking ahead to a potential delicious regional final matchup with Greely.
"Greely's obviously the favorite, but we can't worry about Greely," said Cape Elizabeth coach Jason Tremblay. "We had two great games with Leavitt.
"If we get to Greely and we play our game, we can be tough. We beat them once, went to overtime and the other game, they beat us. We're right on their heels."
The Western B Final is Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Lewiston.
The Class B state game is Saturday, March 7 in Lewiston. The puck drops at 1 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org