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At this point, it’s just downright unfair.
For years, the Falmouth boys’ hockey team has watched in horror while its opponent has gotten the breaks, but this season, it looked as if the Yachtsmen might be primed to finally break through and win a first Western Class A title.
Instead, a bad stroke of luck doomed Falmouth again.
Saturday night in the Western Class A semifinals at the Colisee in Lewiston, the third-ranked Yachtsmen took an early 1-0 lead on No. 2 Thornton Academy, but the Golden Trojans tied the score, then got a huge break to go ahead for good. They added two more goals in the third and ended Falmouth’s season at 13-5-2 with a 4-1 decision.
“We played well, but they got bounces,” lamented longtime Yachtsmen coach Scott Rousseau. “We had great chances.”
Since moving up to Class A for the 2003-04 season, Falmouth has made it to the semifinal round or better every season and this winter was no different, as the Yachtsmen shook off a slow start and wound up with a solid 12-4-2 mark. Falmouth beat or tied every top contender and finished with the No. 3 seed in Western A.
Last Tuesday, in the quarterfinal round, the host Yachtsmen drubbed No. 6 Noble, 11-1, behind two goals apiece from senior Gabe Hoffman-Johnson and sophomores Mitchell Tapley and Brandon Tuttle.
In the regular season, Falmouth lost 4-1 at home to Thornton Academy Dec. 10, then tied the host Golden Trojans, 1-1, on Jan. 20. The teams’ lone prior playoff meeting was in the 2005 quarterfinals (a 3-2 Yachtsmen victory).
Saturday, Falmouth shot to a 1-0 lead when senior Dan Hanley scored from senior Brandon Morrill. Their lead held until the 8:57 mark of the first when Thornton Academy tied the score. Then, with 3:44 to go in the first period, a fluke goal put the Golden Trojans ahead to stay.
“(Junior goalie) Jay (Hurdman) poked at a shot with his stick and it went up in the air over his head and wound up going in,” Rousseau said. “It was one bad break. We spent the rest of the game chasing that goal.”
The Yachtsmen dominated the second period, allowing just two shots, while having eight opportunities, but they couldn’t beat Thornton Academy goalie Rick Hebb (22 saves).
“Hebb was fantastic,” Rousseau said.
After more Falmouth frustration in the third, the Golden Trojans got separation with 3:35 to play on a power play goal, then iced the 4-1 win with another goal just 20 seconds later.
The Yachtsmen were outshot 25-23. Hurdman made 21 saves.
While the loss stung, Falmouth has plenty to be proud of as once again it was among the finest teams in the state.
“We’re a Class B team with pretty much a 13-man roster,” Rousseau said. “There’s a reason why we’re always two or three players short. We overachieve and push to be in the mix. In our seven years in Class A, we’ve stayed really competitive. Other teams have come and gone. We don’t fall prey to the ebb and flow. We’re always in the final four.”
Ford Bohrmann, Julien Clement, Hanley (a finalist for the Travis Roy Award), Tucker Hyland, Hoffman-Johnson, Morrill, Tim Nash, Dixon Pike (another Travis Roy finalist), Dylan Riddle, Nolan Tapley, Bruce Tuttle and Adam Winn graduate after their class won 60 games in four seasons.
“They’ve had a good career,” Rousseau said. “It’s tough to say goodbye to this class. There were a lot of unsung heroes.”
Falmouth will be a different team in 2010-11, but the Yachtsmen figure to be right back in the hunt.
“We return Jay, who’s a two-time state all-star,” Rousseau said. “Our prime competition is losing goaltending. We’ll be mature in goal and on defense, but our forwards will be young. We’ll keep scores down. We’ll have talent.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org