PORTLAND – The Eastern Maine girls’ hockey final was decided on special teams.
The Greely Rangers recorded three power play goals and one shorthanded goal in their 7-2 victory over the Brunswick Dragons Wednesday night at the Portland Ice Arena.
The Rangers will now face rival Falmouth Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston for the state title.
“Tonight I think it was a couple of bounces that went in our favor, whether it was us getting a goal or (Brunswick) nearly missing one,” said Greely coach Nate Guerin. “For whatever reason every time they grabbed a little momentum, we were able to fend them off and get back on top.”
“Brunswick is a really good team,” said Sarah Kurland, who had a hat trick in the contest. “We work hard every time we play them and it really pumps us up. They are a really good team and they are fun to play with.”
Brunswick defenseman Caroline Wild said in previous meetings this year with Greely, they were psyched out.
“We psyched ourselves out the first time and couldn’t comeback,” Wild said. “At least we scored twice this time.”
The Rangers were missing key players Paige Tuller, Meg Finlay, and Freyja Victory due to various aliments which bonded the team tighter for the playoff run.
“We tell them, there’s enough talent to win no matter who’s suiting up and who isn’t,” Guerin mentioned. “They bring a ton of effort when they stay like that, they are good enough to win any game.”
Teamwork does work.
“When we work as a team, we know it’s not about individual players, but it’s about all of us together,” Kurland added.
Their first power play tally came with 4:23 remaining in the first period. Mary Morrison’s shot was deflected by Sarah Kurland in the slot and went through Brunswick netminder Claire Mendes’ five-hole.
“It was huge, the power play has not been great lately, so it was nice to be successful,” said Guerin. “We simplified it, it’s not a two minute vacation, it’s time to get to work, and step up and play extra hard.”
With Brunswick taking its second straight penalty 35 seconds later, the Rangers struck again when Monica Howland won the face-off to Chelsea Andrews who was at the top of the slot. Her shot went top shelf with 2:06 to go in the first period.
“Our passes were really connecting and the energy was so good,” Kurland said. “We were supporting each other, crashing the net, getting rebounds, it was a really fun game to play.”
Greely became undisciplined late in the first and the early parts of the second period, but they continued to capitalize on special teams. Kurland potted a shorthanded goal 68 seconds into the second period.
“I just grabbed the puck and went to the backhand, I think it was the first ever backhand goal, I have ever gotten,” Kurland said of her shorthanded goal.
The Dragons would get on the board when Jen Machin looked for cross-ice pass deep in the slot, but it deflected off a Greely defenseman into the net at the 3:06 mark. Wild received the lone assist on the play.
Brunswick, with renewed confidence, closed the gap to 3-2 when Gillian Ford crossed the middle, got tripped up, but still had enough strength to get the shot off. The goal came at the 11:28 mark of the second period.
The Rangers went back to work on the power play when the Dragons took a bench minor late in the period, Hodgkins struck once again. Her goal with 1:33 left in the second period was set up by Etta Copenhagan to give the Rangers the 4-2 lead.
At the end of the day, according to Brunswick coach Bill Bodwell, it’s difficult to face two opponents on the ice.
“Rachael Moroney gets one penalty seven games and she got two penalties in the first period,” he said. “We haven’t seen reffing like that all season. They have let everyone be more physical than they have in the playoffs. We have seen some incredibly inconsistent reffing. When my girl gets hurt because she gets shoved down after the goalie runs into her, then she gets shoved down by a Greely player, I see three referees chuckling at the blue line when I got girl hurt. It sets a really bad tone.”
The Rangers were 3-for-4 on the power play wile Brunswick was 0-for-2.
Copenhagan recorded her first goal at the 7:24 mark of the third period with an unassisted effort. She score again a few minutes later at the 9:05 mark, with Halley Taylor setting the goal up.
“We were rolling two lines, we had some injured girls, some sick girls, they were working as hard as they can,” Guerin said.
Twenty-six seconds later, Sarah Kurland completed the hat trick with Taylor picking up the assist.
Emma Seymour picked up the win for Greely stopping 14 shots in net.
She’s super focused,” Guerin said of Seymour. “All goalies are a little bit weird, she’s no exception – in a good way – when she’s on her game she’s very tough to beat.”
Claire Mendes and Erin Gay combined to make 21 saves in the losing cause.
“It was a great year, the girls have been real supportive of each other,” said Bodwell. “