At press time, two local boys’ hockey teams, who happen to share an rink, Falmouth and Greely, found themselves one victory away from the opportunity to play for a state championship.
Last week, the Yachtsmen, after a solid 13-4-1 regular season, which resulted in the No. 2 seed in Western Class A, dominated No. 7 Kennebunk, 10-1, in the quarterfinals and held off third-ranked Scarborough, 5-3, in the semifinals.
Against the Rams, sophomore Ben Freeman had a game to remember, scoring once in the first period to help Falmouth open up a 2-0 lead, then producing a natural hat trick in the second as the Yachtsmen pulled away to a 6-0 advantage. Freeman added an unassisted goal early in the third (his fifth for the game) and Falmouth rolled to the easy win. Junior Kris Samaras also scored twice.
“We were feeling the momentum coming into the game,” said Freeman. “We’ve worked hard on the power play every practice. We’re scoring a lot of goals. I’m happy about that.”
“That was a milestone for Ben,” said Falmouth’s first-year coach Deron Barton. “He’s a gamer. He shows up to play every night. We’ve worked toward this. It’s nice to see (they guys) respond like this.”
Saturday, the Yachtsmen got a much tougher challenge from a Scarborough team they split with in the regular season.
Senior Cam Bell’s tying goal made it 1-1 after one period. Senior Brandon Tuttle and Freeman each scored to make it 3-1 Falmouth, but the Red Storm rallied to tie. In the third period, Tuttle scored his second goal to put the Yachtsmen ahead to stay and Bell iced it with his second tally, an empty netter.
The Yachtsmen faced top-ranked, defending state champion Thornton Academy (18-1-1) in the regional final Tuesday night (see theforecaster.net for game story).
Falmouth was the lone team to have any success against the Golden Trojans this winter, beating them 5-3 at home and tying them in Biddeford, 3-3.
Thornton Academy won the lone prior playoff meeting, 4-1, in the 2010 semifinals.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Barton said. “They’re a fun team to play, they’re a very skilled team, they’re well-coached. We match up well against them and I think the style of hockey they play is similar to the style we play. They play a very cerebral game. I just think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“I’ve seen them play a couple of times (since our last meeting). I don’t think we really need to change much. I think we’re going to go with the same game plan we had against them both times and make adjustments as we need to.”
If Falmouth is victorious, it would advance to its first ever Class A state final and meet Lewiston (15-4-1) or St. Dom’s (14-6) Saturday at 6 p.m., at the Colisee in Lewiston.
The Yachtsmen split two meetings with the Blue Devils and beat the Saints twice in the regular season.
In Western B, Greely, which lost to eventual state champion York in last year’s regional final, earned an opportunity at a rematch.
The Rangers, 12-4-2 in the regular season, good for the top spot in the region, played their first game in more than a week Saturday when they met No. 5 Yarmouth in the semifinals.
The Clippers, the last team to qualify for the regional playoffs with an 11-6-1 regular season mark, held off No. 4 Camden, 7-6, in last week’s quarterfinals, as senior Marshall Brunelle had a hat trick and Yarmouth held off a furious late Windjammers’ rally.
The Clippers’ run came to a close against Greely, a team they split with in the regular season.
In the semifinal, Yarmouth got goals from senior Eamon Costello and sophomore Max Watson, but the Rangers got a hat trick from freshman Reid Howland and two more goals from sophomore Ted Hart and they advanced, 5-2, ending the Clippers’ year at 12-7-1.
“We did what we had to do to keep it close until the end where our offensive guys could go to work, but we had an unfortunate penalty and they scored on the power play,” said Yarmouth first-year coach David St. Pierre. “Our natural rivalry allowed both teams to compete. (Greely’s) a much deeper team than we are. It’s tough for us to matchup with them for 45 minutes. They played well. They’re well coached and they came to play.
“All in all, I’m pretty happy with our season. Obviously, we wanted to go further. We beat or tied everyone in the league this year. That’s a big statement. This season helped continue the rebuilding of the Yarmouth program that (former coach) Marc (Halsted) started. The five seniors deserve credit for bringing Yarmouth back to perennial playoff contention.”
Looking ahead, the Clippers have some big holes to fill, but should be a threat again in 2012-13.
“We lose a lot of scoring,” said St. Pierre. “Our first line and two productive defensemen. That will be tough to replace. Mark Brown, David Clemmer and Kevin Haley were character kids who stepped forward this year. I’m excited to see what they can do. Watson has emerged as a top defenseman. We have (goalie) Red (DeSmith) back in net. He’s huge for us. He should be a top goalie in the league next year. It’ll come down to guys stepping up.”
Greely and York squared off in the Western B Final Wednesday night (see theforecaster.net for game story).
Greely beat York, 4-0 on the road and 3-2 at home this season. The Rangers and Wildcats have a storied postseason history. Over the past 11 years, the teams have battled nine times in do-or-die games, with York taking five of them, including last year’s 6-4 regional final triumph.
The winner will face either Brewer (18-1) or Messalonskee (17-3) in Saturday’s Class B state final, which starts at 1 p.m., at the Colisee. Greely beat the visiting Eagles, 3-1, Feb. 18 and didn’t face the Witches this year.
Sun Journal staff writer Justin Pelletier contributed to this story.
Falmouth sophomore and leading scorer Ben Freeman pops home one of his five goals during the Yachtsmen’s 10-1 quarterfinal round victory over Kennebunk last week. Falmouth then ousted Scarborough in the semis Saturday.
Greely junior Brendan Trelegan and Yarmouth senior Marshall Brunelle get tangled up during the Rangers’ 5-2 win in the Western B semifinals Saturday night.