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YARMOUTH—Greely’s girls’ hockey team was flustered for much of Monday night’s East Region showdown at Yarmouth/Freeport, but the Rangers saved their best for last.
Greely, riding a three-game win streak, had an edge in possession and shots on goal in the first period, but found itself down, 2-0, as Yarmouth/Freeport sophomore Katie Clemmer put on a show of puck-handling wizardry before finishing and junior Colleen Sullivan scored on a rebound.
The Rangers got some life midway through the second period when senior Maura Perry scored on a rebound.
That tenacity proved to be the secret to success and after the necessity of crashing the net was reinforced during the second period intermission, Greely came out for the third period and dominated.
A little over a minute in, on the power play, junior standout Danita Storey scored on a rebound.
With 10:07 left, freshman Courtney Sullivan put the Rangers ahead.
Then, in a 47-second span, sophomore Ellie Schad twice scored on a rebound to finally break it open and Greely went on to a 5-2 victory.
“We came into the locker room and talked about the fact that we were doing things right, but we had a lot to fix and it was important that we didn’t put our heads down,” Schad said. “We focused on defending and finishing pucks in front of the net. We had to calm down, get pucks to net and crash because the goalie gave up rebounds.”
The girls’ hockey season, which starts earlier than the other winter sports, is at the midway pole and Greely and Yarmouth/Freeport are both legitimate contenders in the East Region, which just happens to house arguably the state’s two best teams in Lewiston and Edward Little/Leavitt.
The Rangers opened with wins at St. Dom’s (11-2) and at home over Biddeford (5-0) and Winslow (10-1). After a 6-3 home loss to Lewiston, Greely blanked visiting St. Dom’s (7-0), won at defending state champion Scarborough (4-2), then blanked host Winslow (8-0).
Yarmouth/Freeport faced expectations for the first time this winter. After opening with a 9-0 home win over Brunswick, a 5-1 home loss to Falmouth followed. Yarmouth/Freeport then blanked host Brunswick (10-0) and visiting Winslow (9-0), but last week, lost at Lewiston (7-0) and dropped a close one at Edward Little/Leavitt (2-1).
Heading into Monday’s meeting, since the Maine Principals’ Association began sanctioning girls’ hockey in 2009-10, Greely had won nine of 10 meetings. Yarmouth/Freeport’s lone triumph came last December (3-2), but the Rangers got some payback with a 5-1 win in Yarmouth.
Monday, Greely dug an early hole, but it sure saved its best for last.
The Rangers had the first good scoring chance, but a blast from Storey was denied by Yarmouth/Freeport senior goalie Hannah Williams.
Clemmer then took center stage, splitting two defenders before beating Greely sophomore goalie Nica Todd with 7:10 to play in the first period for a 1-0 lead.
“Katie is all heart,” said Yarmouth/Freeport coach Jeff Haley. “She carries that into every single shift. She hates to lose and tries to do the little things right.”
After Todd denied senior Katie Brown on a breakaway, the hosts doubled their lead with 2:34 remaining in the first period, as a Clemmer rush led to a shot, which led to a loose puck, which Sullivan banged home to make it 2-0.
“We carried the momentum from the great battle we had the other night against EL,” Haley said.
The Rangers tried to answer a minute later, but a Storey rush was stopped by Williams and while Greely outshot Yarmouth/Freeport, 9-5, in the first 15 minutes, the hosts appeared to have a comfortable lead.
Yarmouth/Freeport had a great chance to extend its advantage even further early in the second period when it went on the power play, but Todd saved a shot from senior Emily Johnson, then, after Clemmer again made a highlight reel move past the defense, her shot were turned aside by Todd.
The momentum then switched to the Rangers with 7:02 left in the second period.
After Greely junior Maura Verrill put a shot on goal which Williams saved, Perry was there to collect the rebound and sent it into the cage to make the score 2-1.
Yarmouth/Freeport would hold on to the lead through the end of the period (a nice save from Williams on a low shot from Rangers freshman Bridget Roberts was crucial), but 15 minutes still remained.
With the ice being resurfaced, Greely coach Nate Guerin had a chance to talk to his players and he reinforced the game plan.
“We just needed to settle down,” Guerin said. “It’s a good rivalry. Yarmouth’s a good team. We knew it was an important game. We just had to let the nerves settle a little bit. There was a lot of time.”
The Rangers got an immediate break in the third period when they went on the power play. After Verrill had a shot denied in front, Storey scored on a rebound and with 13:41 remaining, the game was deadlocked.
With 10:07 to go, Greely went ahead to stay, 3-2, on its lone successful long shot of the game, a blast from Sullivan (assisted by Storey) that beat Williams low.
With 9:40 left, Clemmer had a chance to tie the score, but after a rush, she shot wide.
Then, the Rangers poured it on.
With 8:37 remaining, Schad, who started the play, got a rebound and tucked it home to make the score 4-2.
“I had space wide, so I took it,” said Schad. “The defense gave me a little space to cut in front. I put it on net and the goalie gave up a rebound and I was there to bury it.”
Just 47 seconds later, Schad struck again (junior Faith Price was credited with an assist) and Greely had a healthy 5-2 advantage.
“The puck started to go in,” Guerin said. “We talked about shooting low and crashing the net. We made it harder on their goalie. It was a matter of getting a bounce. Once we got one, it started rolling.”
Yarmouth/Freeport got a goal back with 47 seconds to play, as junior Jenny Holmquist scored on a rebound, but it was too little, too late and the Rangers closed out their 5-3 triumph.
“We had a tough loss to Lewiston earlier and I think that was a big wakeup call,” Schad said. “Scarborough was a good win for us. This was another tough challenge we were able to finish.”
“It was a nice comeback win,” Guerin said. “We told the girls to stick to the game plan. We worked hard throughout the game.”
Greely finished with a 24-10 advantage in shots on goal. Williams made 19 saves, while Todd stopped seven.
Yarmouth could only lament what-if.
“We knew Greely would battle,” Haley said. “They’re a good team. They crashed the net and did the little things and tonight, they won. Their goals came off rebounds with the puck loose in front. We’ve got to mimic that. We’re getting there.”
Both teams have one game left in the old year.
Yarmouth/Freeport hopes to get back on track Tuesday when it plays St. Dom’s in a makeup game. Next up is red-hot Falmouth Dec 31. Yarmouth/Freeport then opens the new year with a home tilt versus Edward Little/Leavitt Jan. 2.
“I think we’re very close,” Haley said. “We get Lewiston, EL and Greely again. I look forward to the next game with them. We have to adjust little things. The girls compete. They know what needs to be done. As long as the effort’s there, I’m not worried about the outcome.”
Greely plays host to Mt. Ararat Saturday, then goes to Falmouth for a Dudley Cup showdown New Year’s Day. Two days later, the Rangers play host to Edward Little/Leavitt in a pivotal showdown.
“I’m feeling really good about us,” Schad said. “Falmouth is always fun. A big rivalry. We’re looking to win that one.”
“We’re in good shape, but we still have work to do,” Guerin added. “This game showed me a lot about our character. It was a good sign.”
Greely sophomore Sarah Johnson and Yarmouth junior Keeley Arnold fight for possession.
Yarmouth/Freeport sophomore standout Katie Clemmer makes a move and races up the ice. Clemmer had the game’s first goal.
Yarmouth/Freeport junior Jenny Holmquist (pinned against the goal) scores on a rebound in the final minute of the game.
Yarmouth/Freeport senior Michelle Robichaud and Greely junior Maura Verrill battle behind the goal.
Yarmouth/Freeport celebrates a goal.
Greely freshman Courtney Sullivan launches a shot which puts the Rangers on top in Monday’s East Region showdown at Yarmouth/Freeport. Greely scored four times in the third period to win, 5-2.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.