Falmouth, Greely reach boys’ hockey regional finals

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Greely’s Jake MacDonald celebrates a goal during the Rangers’ 5-2 win over top-ranked Gardiner in the Class B South semifinals. Greely will meet York Wednesday night in the regional final.

Yarmouth senior Bennett Travers scores his team’s lone goal in Friday’s 8-1 loss to York in the Class B South semifinals.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Kennebunk, Greely-Gardiner and Yarmouth-York game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)

A defending regional champion has been sent home, but two other local boys’ hockey teams remained standing at press time.

In Class A South, Falmouth, the top seed after a 14-3-1 regular season, earned a bye into the semifinals, then downed No. 4 Portland/Deering, 5-2, in the semifinals Saturday.

The Yachtsmen trailed early, then took the lead behind a pair of goals from Brendan Hickey.

“(Brendan’s) a force out there and he’s a great dynamic player and he’s definitely one of our big leaders right now,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton.

Portland/Deering tied the score on the power play in the final second of the first period, but a goal from Theo Hembre in the second period put the Yachtsmen ahead to stay. In the third period, Hembre scored again and Alex Grade tickled the twine as well to account for the final score.

Falmouth battled No. 2 Cheverus (15-5) in the Class A South Final Tuesday night in Lewiston. 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.

“We prepare the same way like we have all season long,” Barton said. “I think if we execute our game plan and we have a solid commitment to playing as a team we will be fine.”

If Falmouth gets to the state final for the first time in three seasons, it will meet either defending Class A champion Lewiston (18-1) or Bangor (13-7) Saturday at 6 p.m. in Lewiston.

The Yachtsmen split this year with the Blue Devils, winning, 3-2, Jan. 16 in Lewiston and losing, 5-4, at home five days later. Falmouth won the only previous playoff meeting, 4-0, in the 2013 state final. The Yachtsmen swept the Rams, winning, 4-2, Jan. 11 in Bangor and prevailing, 4-1, Jan. 28 at home. The teams have no playoff history.

In Class B South, defending regional champion Yarmouth earned the sixth and final playoff seed and upset No. 3 Cape Elizabeth, 4-1, in the quarterfinals.

Friday, the Clippers went to Lewiston to face No. 2 York in the semifinals and their reign came to a close in decisive fashion. The Wildcats went up, 2-0, after one period, 5-0, after two periods, then rolled to an 8-1 win. Bennett Travers had Yarmouth’s lone goal and goalie Dan Latham made 41 saves, but the Clippers finished the year 8-11-1.

“We’re proud of the fact that we had a tough season, but we still showed up for the playoffs,” said Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre. “We did a good job, but we ran into a very good hockey team. York showed that tonight. We always set the goal that we want to be in Lewiston at the end of the year, so I’m proud of the fact we made it to this point.”

The Clippers expect to be back in the hunt next winter.

“We’ll graduate eight really good seniors,” St. Pierre said. “They were a big reason for the success of this program the past two, three years. It’s hard to see those boys go, but they’ve helped set a standard for the new kids coming in. We’re proud of the environment we’ve created.”

Greely, the fourth seed in Class B South, excelled in its first two playoff games.

Last Tuesday, the Rangers hosted No. 5 Kennebunk and gradually pulled away.

Greely got the jump at the 8 minute, 41 second mark of the first period, when Adam Rost scored from the blue line. Just before the horn, however, the Rams pulled even.

In the second period, Greely remained poised and was eventually rewarded. With 6:52 left, Peter Lattanzi scored a gritty goal to put the Rangers on top for good and with 1:29 remaining, freshman Matt Kramlich buried a shot for a 3-1 lead, which stood up into the second intermission.

The Rams made things interesting early in the third period, scoring 6:44 in, but Greely quickly reasserted control as a goal from another freshman, Andy Moore, made it 4-2 with 6:34 to play. From there, the Rangers’ defense and  goalie Josh Lawless slammed the door and Kramlich delivered the coup de grace with an empty net goal with 40.9 seconds left to bring the curtain down on Greely’s 5-2 victory.

“It was awesome,” Kramlich said. “The environment and the fans were great.”

“I give the guys a lot of credit the way they didn’t get too high or too low,” said longtime Greely coach Barry Mothes. “That’s so important in these kinds of games. Kennebunk is a bigger, physically mature team, but our quickness was an advantage.”

Friday night in Lewiston, Greely met up with top-ranked Gardiner and made another statement, winning again by a 5-2 margin.

Greely went on top for good just over four minutes in, as freshman Jake MacDonald scored on a rebound. The Rangers weren’t able to add to the lead, but they got 11 saves from Lawless to stay on top heading into the first intermission.

In the second period, Greely got a fortuitous bounce and a second goal just 28 seconds in, as Ryan Megathlin buried a puck that ricocheted off the boards right on to his stick in front of the net. The Tigers got on the board, but Kramlich continued his strong postseason with a goal and with 4:49 to play in the period, senior captain Jack Saffian scored on a rebound for a 4-1 advantage.

The Rangers didn’t sit on the lead in the third period, but as expected, Gardiner tried to rally only to be turned away time and again by Lawless (who had 29 saves). With 1:02 to play, Moore ended all doubt by scoring his team’s fifth goal and while the Tigers did finally get a goal with under a minute left, Greely closed out its victory.

“We’ve played really well lately,” Saffian said. “Once we get rolling, it’s hard to stop us.  We just had to stay calm tonight. We couldn’t get overwhelmed by the rink or the situation. We fed off it. Getting off to a lead against a team like that was huge. Then, we were able to stick to our game plan.”

“Chemistry has to do with a lot it,” Lawless said. “We’re a very tight team. I believe in everyone. We’re taking it one shift, one shot, one period at a time.”

“I can’t say enough positively of how proud I am tonight,” Mothes added. “The way we put together three periods tonight was fabulous. I couldn’t have asked for a more mature, composed effort.”

The Rangers improved to 14-6 and advanced to the regional final to battle York (16-2-1) Wednesday evening.

York beat Greely, 6-2, Feb. 15 in Falmouth.

The teams have plenty of playoff history, including some absolutely unforgettable games. Between 2001 and 2012, the Rangers and Wildcats split 10 meetings. The most recent was a 5-1 Greely victory in the 2012 regional final.

“This has been wonderful and I just want to keep the season going,” Mothes said. “York’s a strong team. They’re lethal offensively. I don’t feel like it deserves to end for these guys. I’m excited for them to come back here in front of a big crowd Wednesday. We hope to play our best game of the season.”

If the Rangers move on to their first Class B state final since 2013, they will battle either defending champion Waterville (18-1) or Old Town/Orono (16-2-2) Saturday at 1 p.m. in Lewiston. Greely didn’t play either team during the regular season and has no playoff history with either squad.

Awards

The Class B South Coaches’ Association recently named award winners for the month of February.

Greely’s Ryan Sullivan was named Defenseman of the Month. Sullivan scored three goals and had eight assists during the month, as the Rangers went 8-1.

Greely’s Andy Moore was named Rookie of the Month. Moore scored nine times and added nine assists in nine February games.

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.