FALMOUTH—An easy victory suddenly turned not so easy for the Greely girls’ hockey team Saturday evening at Family Ice Center, but in crunch time of the latest version of one of the state’s great rivalries, the Rangers showed their championship mettle.
Hosting defending state champion Scarborough, Greely, the 2012 and 2013 champion, shot to a 3-0 lead in the first period, as freshman sensation Courtney Sullivan scored twice and classmate Bridget Roberts added a third goal on a rebound.
When junior standout Danita Storey scored for a 4-0 lead in the second period, the Rangers appeared on their way to an easy win, but the Red Storm, behind their superstar, sophomore Sami Shoebottom, came to life.
First, freshman Lucy Bogdanovich got Scarborough on the board. Then, after a Storey breakaway goal restored Greely’s four-goal lead, Shoebottom scored twice in just over a minute to make it 5-3 and give the hosts something to think about during the second period intermission.
The Rangers got some breathing room five minutes into third period when Storey scored on the power play, but goals from sophomore Lily Nygren and Shoebottom cut the deficit to a single goal, 6-5, with 3:17 remaining.
But with all the momentum on the Red Storm’s side, Greely refused to buckle and with 1:11 to play, Storey’s fourth goal, on the power play, iced it and the Rangers held on for a palpitating 7-5 triumph.
The win improved Greely’s record to 11-2-1 and dropped Scarborough to 10-3.
“Scarborough’s a great team,” said Rangers coach Nate Guerin. “We knew it would be a close game. The girls were fired up for this game. We really like playing Scarborough. They really get up for it. It’s become quite a rivalry. It was an exciting back-and-forth game. I thought they played a strong game and I thought our girls played a strong game. It took some resolve there to finish strong.”
Greely and Scarborough have combined to win the past three state titles and have played some memorable games in the process (see sidebar, below), none more than the Rangers’ 1-0 overtime win in the 2013 state final. Last winter, the Red Storm earned a measure of revenge with a pair of victories, 3-0 at home and 8-0 in Falmouth.
So far this season, both squads have remained near the top of the standings.
Greely 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, the Rangers blanked visiting St. Dom’s (7-0), won at Scarborough (4-2), then blanked host Winslow (8-0), rallied from two goals down to beat host Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester, 5-2, then dominated visiting Mt. Ararat (12-1) before falling at home to Edward Little/Leavitt (1-0). A 6-2 victory at Capeflete, 2-2 tie at EL/Leavitt and a 7-0 win at Mt. Ararat followed.
Scarborough won its first three games: 6-1 at York, 5-2 over visiting Gorham/Bonny Eagle and 2-1 (in overtime) at Capeflete, but a 4-1 loss at EL/Leavitt followed. After handling visiting Biddeford (4-0), the Red Storm lost at home to Greely (4-2), but they hadn’t fallen since, defeating host Biddeford (4-1), host Gorham/Bonny Eagle (8-0), visiting Cheverus (7-0), Falmouth (2-1), York (6-1) and Portland/Deering (9-2).
Saturday, both teams’ offensive prowess was on display in a contest that took many twists and turns.
In the first minute, Greely sophomore goalie Nica Todd came up big, denying a blast by Bogdanovich.
Seconds later, Sullivan broke free and she wasn’t about to be denied, as she went one-on-one with Scarborough sophomore goalie Lucca Sterrer, tucking the puck into the net for a 1-0 lead just 90 seconds in.
After Todd denied Shoebottom’s bid to tie, Sullivan doubled the Rangers’ lead, as she again broke in before blasting a shot past Sterrer top shelf for a 2-0 advantage.
“We knew we had to score early,” Guerin said.
After Todd robbed Shoebottom again, Greely went up 3-0 as junior Erin Molloy’s initial shot was saved by Sterrer, but Roberts was there to bury the rebound with 1:11 to go in the first.
The Rangers enjoyed a 12-4 shots advantage in the first 15 minutes and appeared in control.
When Storey rebounded the shot of sophomore Sarah Jonson with 8:53 to play in the second period, Greely had a 4-0 lead, but the dangerous visitors began to stir.
With 7:07 left in the second, Bogdanovich got Scarborough off the schneid (sophomore Megan Doak and Shoebottom were credited with assists).
A mere 54 seconds later, however, the Rangers restored their four-goal bulge when Sullivan fed Storey for a breakaway opportunity and Storey finished to make it 5-1.
Late in the period, Shoebottom put on a show and got her team right back in it.
With 4:36 remaining, Shoebottom beat Todd while falling (Doak was given an assist) and it was 5-2.
Sixty-eight seconds later, she took a pass from freshman Logan Bruns, switched from here forehand to backhand, then beat Todd to cut the deficit to 5-3 (Nygren was also given an assist).
When Greely took a penalty with 1:43 left, Scarborough looked to pull within a single goal, but in the final minute, Todd barely got a piece of her glove on a Shoebottom blast to deflect it off target and the score remained 5-3 heading to the intermission.
Going into the third period, the next goal would be crucial for momentum and on a Rangers’ power play, the Red Storm had a defensive breakdown, allowing Storey to simply skate around the goal and tuck the puck into the near corner before Sterrer could even see her.
“We knew they’d come out hard and we knew we had to come out harder and get that goal,” Storey said.
Again, Scarborough rallied, as with 6:09 to play, Nygren fired a shot through traffic from up top and it eluded Todd to cut the deficit to 6-4. Sophomore Erin Shell and freshman Vanly Doiron were given assists.
The Red Storm went on the power play with 5:14 remaining and Shoebottom had a blast saved and Shoebottom shot just wide, but the standout finished with 3:17 to play (senior Hannah Snyder got the assist) and suddenly, Scarborough was only down a goal, 6-5.
Red Storm coach Caitlin Cashman called timeout trying to orchestrate the equalizer and right out of the timeout, Shoebottom had a look, but sent the puck just wide.
Scarborough then shot itself in the foot, as it took a penalty and the visitors never had another chance to pull even.
“We wanted to give the black line, our first line, a break,” Cashman said. “We talked about what we wanted to do when we pulled the goalie, but then the call was made. What can you do?”
With 1:11 to play, Roberts set up Storey for a power play goal and that brought the curtain down on Greely’s 7-5 triumph.
“We knew it would be a good game,” Storey said. “It’s fun after beating them in the state game and losing to them twice last year, then beating them after they won states. We started out good and then we got ahead of ourselves and made bad passes and couldn’t get the puck. We gave it up to them in our zone and couldn’t get it out.”
“We talked (in the timeout) about doing simpler things,” Guerin said. “I thought we were losing our focus, but I thought we finished well.”
Scarborough got three goals from Shoebottom, but it wasn’t enough.
“Sami is a talented kid,” Cashman said. “She won the hard hat today because she moved the puck well.”
Greely negated Shoebottom’s brilliance with four goals from Storey.
“They both came up big,” Guerin said. “Players like that won’t be invisible. They’re involved every time they’re on the ice. I thought the supporting casts for both teams did really well. A lot of girls stepped up and made plays.”
The Rangers also got two goals from Sullivan and one from Roberts. They enjoyed a 24-21 shots advantage. Todd made 16 saves.
The Red Storm also got goals from Bogdanovich and Nygren and got 17 saves from Sterrer.
“We tell the girls that every team is beatable,” Cashman said. “A two-goal lead is the worst lead. We didn’t play scared. We went at them. We had some good breaks, then we had some bad breaks too. For us today, defensively we got caught up in things I haven’t seen this year. There’s no excuse for three breakaway goals. I want the other team to earn it. I’ve coached now for six years and we’ve always been a third period team. It drives me crazy. We’ve changed our warmups a million times. You can’t be a one period team.”
Scarborough’s still first in the West Region Heal Points standings, but its upcoming schedule is daunting, as the Red Storm visit East Region leader Lewiston Monday, host Capeflete Saturday, then go to Falmouth Jan. 28 before finishing at Cheverus Jan. 31.
Scarborough still has some work to do if it wants to reach a third straight state final.
“This game is a nice reminder,” Cashman said. “We have 18 underclassmen that got reminded that this is varsity. It’s big girl time. Finishing first is definitely the goal. We have to play harder. Defensively especially.”
Greely (third behind undefeated Lewiston and Edward Little/Leavitt in the East Region) has a couple chances to enhance its Heal Points total as well, as it welcomes Yarmouth/Freeport/GNG Monday, plays host to Brunswick Saturday, then closes at Lewiston Jan. 28
“I think we’re doing well,” Storey said. “We have to keep up the good work and play like we did in the first period of this game.”
“The consistency piece down the stretch is what we’re hoping to find,” Guerin said. “If we beat Lewiston, that would do a lot for us. I’m not sure where we are with Leavitt right now. It will be close. We’re playing for home ice. We know we can skate with those teams. We might not be the favorite, but no one is looking at us and thinking we’re not capable of winning.”
Greely junior Maura Verrill races up the ice as Scarborough sophomore Megan Doak gives chase.
Greely junior Erin Molloy splits Scarborough sophomores Lily Nygren (left) and Kristen Levesque.
Scarborough junior Madison O’Reilly plays the puck.
Greely freshman Bridget Roberts bangs home a rebound for a 3-0 lead in the first period.
Scarborough sophomore Sami Shoebottom beats Greely sophomore goalie Nica Todd for a second period goal.
Greely junior Danita Storey launches a shot.
Greely sophomore Nica Todd stands tall in goal, as junior Maura Verrill helps defend.
Greely 4 @ Scarborough 2
@ Scarborough 3 Greely 0
Scarborough 8 @ Greely 0
@ Greely 3 Scarborough 0
@ Scarborough 1 Greely 0
Scarborough 4 @ Greely 2
Greely freshman Courtney Sullivan tries to get to the loose puck as Scarborough sophomore goalie Lucca Sterrer attempts to cover up during the Rangers’ thrilling 7-5 win Saturday night. Sullivan scored the game’s first two goals.
Ken Pooley photos.
More photos below.