Falmouth hockey frustrated again in 2-0 loss to TA

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FALMOUTH—The Falmouth boys’ hockey team hadn’t beaten a top-level team all season and that trend continued Saturday as Falmouth fell to Thornton Academy, 2-0, at Family Ice Center.

A pair of second period goals were all the Golden Trojans needed as goalie Jamison Finch made 31 saves to shut out the Yachtsmen.

“We haven’t beaten a team in the top four all season,” head coach Adam Nicholas said. “We didn’t beat Lewiston, we didn’t beat Biddeford, we didn’t beat St. Doms and we didn’t beat TA. We can play with them. We have a good team—a good squad. It’s just about finding our own niche.”

Falmouth (8-6-3) hit a low point two weeks ago with a 7-3 loss to the Golden Trojans (12-5), but rebounded in their rematch despite the same result.

Thornton Academy used a strong forecheck and breakaway offense to outplay Falmouth in the first period, but senior goalie Jay Hurdman snuffed out multiple scoring chances to keep the game scoreless.

Eight minutes into the opening period Thornton forward C.J. Maksut received a long pass in stride at the blue line and spun around defenseman Alden Weller to break free. Maksut fired a wrister from the slot, but Hurdman made the save and Matt MacDowell was there to sweep the puck away from danger.

With 5:30 remaining in the first, Thornton Academy defenseman Brandon Veilleux found space between the circles and sent a wrister low towards the right post where Hurdman snagged it with his glove.

“Jay played tremendous,” Nicholas said. “He was sick for a week-and-a-half and stepped in the net today and played really well. That’s what we need. We have two great goalies and a goalie battle is a great thing to have.”

Hurdman got help from the post in the first as well. Six minutes into the game, Jon Pate passed to Nick Chen on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Chen snapped off a wrist shot that Hurdman missed with his blocker, but the left post stood strong for the save, keeping the game scoreless.

But Hurdman could only do so much and 2:08 in the second, the Golden Trojans got on the board. A breakdown in the Falmouth defense allowed Andrew Carignan to skate free around the goal and score on the wraparound, slipping the puck between Hurdman’s pads and the near post.

Then, on the power play, with 2:08 remaining in the middle period, Ryan Locke shot from the point. Hurdman made the initial save but Robbie Downing was there to knock in the rebound.

That was all the Golden Trojans needed. Falmouth came out stronger in the third period. They controlled possession and limited Thornton Academy’s scoring opportunities, but couldn’t net a goal of their own.

“(Thornton Academy) got a power-play goal and a goal on a wrap-around that we should have taken care…but we didn’t,” said Nicholas. “In the third we played with more passion. We knew we had to come out there and play better than we did in the first and second. They outplayed us in the first, in the second it was marginal and in the third I thought we out played them.”

The Yachtsmen had their own scoring chances throughout the game, but they were unable to crack Finch.

Early in the first period, Cameron Bell shot from the right circle on an odd-man rush, but the puck found Finch’s body and the junior goalie covered the rebound before Falmouth could get a stick on it.

Early in the second, Falmouth caught Thornton Academy in the middle of a line change. The Yachtsmen got a clear breakaway shot, but Finch got a piece of it. The puck floundered in the crease, but Falmouth couldn’t get it to the back of the net in the ensuing melee.

“We had chances early in the game to score,” Nicholas said. “We should have scored. Their goalie played great.”

Falmouth played the third period without two of its starters, including MacDowell, who left late in the second period with an ankle injury.

Falmouth closes out its regular season Monday against Greely, the top team in Western B, at 7 p.m. at Family Ice Center.

If the Yachtsmen have any hope of moving up from the No. 5 spot in the Western Maine Class A Heal Points they must beat the Rangers.

“We might get (the No. 4 seed) and play Noble at home,” Nicholas said. “Hopefully we get fourth if we beat Greely. We have to beat Greely though. If not, we’ll be going on the road, probably to Noble. Either way, we’re probably playing Noble in the first round.”