Greely’s Andrew Eckhardt and Yarmouth’s Michael Guertier battle for possession during the Rangers’ 4-1 victory in the Class B South semifinals. Greely advanced to meet Cape Elizabeth in Wednesday’s regional final.
Falmouth’s Lou Mainella carries the puck into Biddeford’s zone during Saturday’s Class A South semifinal. Mainella forced overtime with a late goal, but the Yachtsmen lost, 5-4.
(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-Biddeford and Yarmouth-Gorham game stories, with additional photos, see theforecaster.net)
Just one winter sports team from Forecaster Country remains.
Greely’s boys’ hockey squad, which hopes to add to the school’s abundance of riches.
The Rangers were two wins from a championship at press time after ending Yarmouth’s season in the semifinals.
Falmouth’s title hopes were also dashed in the semifinal round.
After losing to York in last year’s regional final, Greely had high hopes entering the 2017-18 season and the Rangers wound up first in Class B South after going 15-2-1, losing only to Cape Elizabeth (in overtime) and Gorham (and tying St. Dom’s).
Greely earned a bye into the semifinals where it met rival Yarmouth, the No. 4 seed, Friday evening at the Colisee in Lewiston.
The Clippers had ousted No. 5 Gorham, 5-1, in their quarterfinal last Tuesday. Dom Morrill scored just before the horn in the first period, Cooper May scored on a penalty shot and set up John Decker and Morrill for a second goal and Kurt Heywood scored as well. Senior goalie Dan Latham added 19 saves.
“We have a strong senior group,” said May. “A lot of guys who have brought a lot of wins to this program and we didn’t want this to be our last game.”
“(Getting to) Lewiston (for the semifinals) is always our goal,” Morrill said. “I think we deserved it.”
“(Gorham) played us tough both games we played them this year,” added Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre. “They’re a strong team, they’re physical, they won’t quit. Fortunately for us, we had a strong third period and finished the game.”
Friday, in the Clippers and Rangers’ 11th all-time playoff meeting, Greely prevailed for the fifth time, but it wasn’t easy.
Jake MacDonald scored for a 1-0 lead after one period and after Jackson Williams put the Rangers up by two, Michael Guertier got the Clippers on the board. MacDonald’s second goal, on the power play, gave Greely some breathing room.
“It was tough because Dan is a great goalie,” Greely forward Jake MacDonald said. “We knew if we kept putting shots on goal that some would go in.”
“Obviously that was a huge power-play goal and we didn’t really have a power play up until that point,” said Rangers coach Barry Mothes. “In a game like that, a 2-1 game against a team like Yarmouth, that’s got Dan Latham in net, you got to try to grab those opportunities. It doesn’t always happen, but that obviously just was probably the most important goal of the season, really, in terms of just opening up a gap a little bit because obviously it was a tight game.”
Matt Kramlich iced it late as Greely went on to a 4-1 victory. Karsten Bourgoine made 19 saves for the Rangers.
The Clippers’ season ended at 11-7-2, as Latham’s 44 saves weren’t enough to make the difference.
“Danny’s been everything to us for the last three seasons,” said St. Pierre. “I mean, he carried us to a state final game two years ago, as a sophomore in his first varsity season, and he’s never looked back from there. He’s been the backbone of this program for a long time and we lean on him heavily.”
Greely battled No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (15-2-2) Tuesday afternoon in the Class B South Final (see theforecaster.net for game story).
On Dec. 16, the Capers beat the host Rangers in overtime, 5-4.
“We’ve been looking forward to a rematch ever since,” Mothes said.
The teams have squared off eight previous times in the postseason. Greely won on five occasions, including a 5-2 victory in the 2014 Western B quarterfinals, the most recent encounter.
If the Rangers are victorious, they’ll meet either Old Town/Orono (18-1) or Presque Isle (14-6) in the Class B state final Saturday at 1 p.m., in Lewiston.
Greely’s MacDonald was named Class B South Forward of the Month for February by the region’s coaches, after scoring 10 goals and adding seven assists. Burgoine was named Class B South Goalie of the Month went 6-0-1 in February, boasting a .956 save percentage and an .875 goals-against-average.
Falmouth was playing as well as anyone at the end of the regular season, but the Yachtsmen sat idle for three weeks before competing in the playoffs.
After going 12-5-1, Falmouth earned the No. 2 seed in Class A South and with it, a bye into the semifinals Saturday afternoon against No. 3 Biddeford at the Colisee.
The Tigers had beaten the Yachtsmen twice in the regular season and while Falmouth put forth a valiant effort, Biddeford managed to do it again.
After the Tigers scored first, Jacob Skillin-Lanou’s rebound tally made it 1-1 after one period.
Biddeford scored two power play goals in the second period, but the Yachtsmen wouldn’t go quietly. Brendan Hickey scored on a shot from just inside the red line early in the third period to give Falmouth life and after the Tigers went back on top by two, Hickey scored again, on a rebound on a power play, and with 3:09 left in regulation, Lou Mainella tied the game.
The contest would go to overtime, but Biddeford would get the winning goal and end the Yachtsmen’s season at 12-6-1 with a 5-4 decision.
“Biddeford knew they were in a game,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. “They executed their game plan and we executed ours, but they came out on top. It’s a good group of kids who worked hard. We were short in a lot of spots at the start of the season, but we became worthy of a game like this at the end. I’m proud of them. We had an opportunity to win it, but we didn’t bury it. We played with our hearts. We just didn’t win the game. It’s a good experience for the underclassmen. It’s good for them to be in a game like this.”
Press Herald staff writer Taylor Vortherms and Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich contributed to this story.