Greely leaves no doubt, blanks Old Town/Orono for Class B crown

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Greely’s boys’ hockey team celebrates at the end of Saturday’s 8-0 victory over Old Town/Orono in the Class B state final. The Rangers avenged last year’s overtime loss to the Black Bears in the state game and won the championship for the fourth time.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

LEWISTON—For 52 weeks, Greely’s boys’ hockey team waited for revenge.

And Saturday afternoon at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, the Rangers achieved revenge, redemption and more in absolutely dominating fashion, controlling play for 45 minutes in the Class B state final against defending champion Old Town/Orono.

One year after letting an early two-goal lead slip away in an overtime loss to the Black Bears, Greely shot to a 2-0 lead again, as freshman Evan Dutil scored at 2:14 of the first period and senior captain Jackson Williams struck on the power play at 3:46, but this time, the Rangers weren’t finished.

Not even close.

Junior Jake MacDonald scored for the first time, short-handed, midway through the first period and Greely held a 3-0 advantage after 15 minutes.

Old Town/Orono played much better in the second period, matching the Rangers in shots, but the only two goals of the frame went to Greely, as MacDonald scored on the power play and freshman Ryan Moore tickled the twine as well to make it 5-0.

The Rangers continued their onslaught in the third period, as senior Peter Lattanzi scored unassisted, MacDonald completed his hat trick and junior captain Andy Moore added one final goal for good measure as Greely prevailed, 8-0.

The Rangers got goals from six different players as they won their 10th game in a row, completed an emphatic playoff run, finished the season 19-2, ended Old Town/Orono’s campaign at 15-6 and in the process, won the Class B state title for the fourth time.

Mission accomplished indeed!

“It feels great,” said MacDonald. “We had it in the backs of our minds all year that we wanted to get back here and play them in the state championship game again and beating them 8-0 is really sweet.” 

Unstoppable

Greely felt like it let one slip away a year ago, when it couldn’t hold an early 2-0 lead and lost in overtime to Old Town/Orono in the state final.

“Last year I remember I went home and I honestly cried,” Williams said. “I knew we could have done better than we did.”

The Rangers came into the 2018-19 season as the favorite and lived up to billing throughout. 

Greely got off to its best start this century, The Rangers opened with an 8-4 win at York, then gave longtime coach Barry Mothes his 300th victory with an 8-1 win at Kennebunk. After downing host Yarmouth, 6-1, the Rangers closed the 2018 portion of their schedule with a 5-1 home victory over Cape Elizabeth. Greely then started 2019 in style with an 8-3 “Dudley Cup” win at Falmouth and followed that up with victories over visiting Biddeford (8-3), visiting Brunswick (11-4), host Gorham (3-2) and visiting Gardiner (7-2).

The Rangers finally met their match against a pair of Class A foes, losing at home to eventual Class A North champion St. Dom’s (6-2) and at two-time defending state champion Lewiston (6-3). Greely got back on track with a 5-0 victory at Brunswick, then defeated visiting Gorham (11-1), host Thornton Academy (6-4), visiting Maranacook (8-0), host Cape Elizabeth (3-1), visiting Yarmouth (6-1) and visiting Leavitt (3-1).

As the top seed in Class B South, the Rangers earned a bye into the semifinals, where they erupted for seven third period goals to pull away from No. 5 Gorham, 10-1.

In Wednesday’s regional final against No. 2 Cape Elizabeth, Greely trailed, 2-0, after one period, but five second period goals and four more in the third spelled a 9-4 victory.

Old Town/Orono, meanwhile, started 6-0 and was 11-1 at one point, but struggled late, losing four of its final six games and each of its final three, but the Black Bears still managed to earn the top seed in Class B North.

After a bye into the semifinals, Old Town/Orono handled No. 4 Camden Hills (4-1), then ousted No. 2 Waterville/Winslow in a 1-0 thriller in Wednesday’s regional final.

The teams didn’t play in the regular season and it didn’t take Greely long Saturday to seize control and this time, keep it.

The game’s first shot resulted in the game’s first goal, as with 12:46 to play in the opening period, sophomore Brennan Rawnsley fired a shot which Dutil redirected for a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Chris Williams was also credited with an assist.

The next two Rangers’ tallies came on special teams, in different ways.

After Old Town/Orono junior Sam Henderson was sent to the penalty box for tripping, Old Town/Orono wasn’t able to clear the puck and Andy Moore fed Jackson Williams for a backhanded shot and a 2-0 lead at 3:46 of the first period.

“I saw the puck, I knew the goalie was down, I threw it on net and luckily, it went in,” Williams said. “It felt great to score in a state game. Last game we got in a hole against Cape and we didn’t want to be in that position today. That motivated us.”

With 7:53 remaining in the first, Old Town/Orono got a chance to get back in the game when Lattanzi was sent to the penalty box for holding, but it would be the Rangers scoring, as Andy Moore raced into the offensive zone and fed MacDonald, who one-timed the puck past Parker to make it 3-0.

Old Town/Orono coach Chris Thurlow then called timeout.

That was it for first period scoring ,as Greely junior defenseman Caleb Duff skipped a shot off the crossbar and Old Town/Orono’s first shot, coming at 11:14 of the period, was stopped by Rangers sophomore goalie Jared Swisher, who denied junior Gabe Talon seconds later to send the contest to the first intermission with Greely very much in command, up, 3-0.

“Once they called the timeout, we talked about this not being like last year,” Jackson Williams said. “We wanted to get it done quickly and not let them have life.”

“I was pleased with our energy and focus from the minute we got on the bus to drive to the rink,” said Mothes. “We had a great first period. It was probably our best first period of the playoffs. Getting off to a good start and getting early goals against a goaltender who had a strong year statistically was great.”

“They kind of got us quick and before we could blink our eyes, we’re down 3-0,” said Thurlow. “You know, hats off to them. That’s a heck of a team. Our guys kind of played a little jittery. Definitely at the start.”

The Rangers had a 10-3 edge in shots on goal in the first 15 minutes and while Old Town/Orono would settle down in the second period, Greely took advantage of its opportunities to extend the lead.

Lattanzi nearly got a goal from well beyond the blue line 80 seconds in, but the puck rang off the post.

The Rangers went on the power play at 2:09, when Old Town/Orono junior Dylan Street was sent off for tripping and the Black Bears nearly struck short-handed nine seconds later, when junior Tyler McCannel skated in alone, but Swisher made his biggest save of the game to keep it 3-0.

For all of 15 seconds.

At 2:33 of the second period, on the power play, MacDonald finished (Andy Moore and freshman Alex Wallace got assists) and Greely enjoyed a 4-0 advantage.

After Old Town/Orono failed to score on the power play, the Rangers got their fifth goal with 7:54 to go in the period, as Ryan Moore scored (from MacDonald and junior Richard Walker).

Greely killed another power play and after another Lattanzi shot hit the post, the Rangers held a 5-0 lead entering the second intermission.

“I thought we played a decent second period,” Thurlow said. “We got some pucks deep and generated a little bit of offense, but just couldn’t get one by that goalie. You know, we had a couple chances. I think if we could have made it 3-1 at one point, or whatnot, then you’re talking a different game.”

“I was a little frustrated at the end of the period because I thought after a good start, we got a little loose with the puck and we were a little slow to make plays and suddenly, they went from no pressure to pressure, so we revisited the theme of keeping it simple and made sure everyone understood that,” Mothes said. “You have to play hockey the right way and when you don’t, bad things happen. I’m glad we were able to turn it around.”

The Black Bears had a chance to get on the board early in the third period, playing 5-on-3 for 22 seconds, but couldn’t convert.

Then, with 9:45 to play, Lattanzi skated in on the left side, then fired a weird angle shot that Parker couldn’t stop and the unassisted tally made it 6-0.

With 8:38 to go, MacDonald completed his hat trick (although not a single hat made it on to the ice), as Andy Moore and sophomore Dawson Jowett got assists.

“It’s special (to have a hat trick), but my linemates really helped out,” MacDonald said. “Having Andy out there just makes me a better player and makes everyone out there a better player.”

“Jake’s unbelievable,” said Williams. “I’ve played with him since middle school when he moved here. Ever since then, I knew he’d be great. He trains almost every day in the offseason. All he thinks about is hockey and it shows.”

“It’s a pleasure having Jake on the team,” added Mothes. “We’ve got a bunch of big-game players. From day one, Jake has really shined. He loves the big occasion and the challenge of getting it done. He has a good hockey IQ. He knows the smart plays it takes to win.” 

That was it for Parker, who was pulled in favor of freshman Aiden Rand, but Rand couldn’t deny Andy Moore with 4:14 left (Williams got the assist).

Greely ran out the clock from there and at 2:43 p.m., celebrated its 8-0 victory and the state title.

“We realized we had to maintain the lead and not get lackadaisical,” MacDonald said. “We’re a really tight-knit team. It’s the best team I’ve been a part of. We love to come to the rink and compete. Wearing the bulls-eye helped us. Knowing teams wanted to beat us motivated us.”

“We talked about it before the game, doing what we knew we had to do and I’m so glad we pulled together and did it,” Jackson Williams said. “Last year, Coach Mothes said we’d be back here and we wouldn’t have the same emotion and lo and behold we did. It was pure jubilation. It was awesome. Years prior, we might have had more talent, but we played as a team and everyone bought into the system. Everyone wanted to be here now. I couldn’t imagine a better way to go out. My brother (Colby) won one in high school and we’ve always argued about who had the better career. I think this gives me the edge.”

“We had a lot of respect for what we needed to do today,” Mothes added. “They had a very good team last year and they were the first-place team this year. None of us took anything for granted. We won all three periods today. That usually turns into something good. I’m very pleased for the guys. Last year stuck with us. It wasn’t an ongoing theme I hammered on. We learned a few things in that loss. Our conditioning was better this year. We played to our depth better this year. We had a lot of penalties to kill today. We were a man-down too much for my liking, but the bench got into the game and made big contributions.

“It’s very rewarding. I’m very happy for the players. I feel lucky enough to have been part of this as a coach a few times. I know how hard the guys worked. They started in late November. We were a heavy target all year. To come up here and score 27 goals in three games, that’s the way to finish.”

Greely enjoyed a commanding edge in shots on goal (31-14) and got 14 saves from Swisher.

Old Town/Orono got 17 saves from Parker and six from Rand.

All-time team?

Greely left no doubt that it’s the best team in Class B this year, and arguably in the entire state.

The bigger question now is where does this squad rank in program history.

The only Rangers team that won more games was the first championship team, which went 20-1 in 2008-09, winning its final 19 games.

“Obviously, the 2008-09 team will have a special place in my heart,” Mothes said. “They played an extremely tough schedule, a tough Christmas schedule. We played around 35 games then.

“But this team, start to finish, has been an outstanding team. We have the most offensive depth. We have a young defensive crew. Caleb logged a lot of minutes as a junior.”

Greely only graduates two seniors, but Lattanzi and Jackson Williams will be tough to replace.

“They’re hard-working guys,” MacDonald said. “They don’t care if they get hit, they keep going and keep grinding.”

“I’m really happy for Peter and Jackson,” Mothes said. “They’ve been good leaders. They came to work every day. They had a tough freshman year and to get over the hump today and have them both play well today, I’m happy for those two guys.”

A similar story?

Greely will return a ton of talent next winter and will likely be the favorite to repeat.

It’s hard to imagine the Rangers not enjoying another deep playoff run in 2020.

“It would be fantastic to do it one more time,” said MacDonald.

“I hope the returning guys are hungry to have this experience again,” said Mothes. “It’s a lot of fun to play postseason hockey. Once you get a taste of it, you want it more. We have a great group of returners who will give us a great nucleus.”

Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich contributed to this story.

Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Greely freshman Alex Wallace skates with the puck.

Greely senior Peter Lattanzi leaves Old Town/Orono sophomore Tanner Evans prone on the ice.

Greely junior Jake MacDonald celebrates one of his three goals.

Greely sophomore goalie Jared Swisher (31) is mobbed by his teammates at the final horn.

Greely senior captain Jackson Williams, left, and junior captain Andy Moore show off the championship trophy.

The new Class B state champions.

Previous Greely stories

Season Preview

Greely 7 Gardiner 2

Greely 9 Cape Elizabeth 4

Previous Greely state game results

2018 Class B
Old Town/Orono 3 Greely 2 (OT)

2013 Class B 
Greely 3 Messalonskee 0

2012 Class B
Greely 6 Messalonskee 2

2009 Class B 
Greely 5 Presque Isle 1

2007 Class B
Brewer 4 Greely 3 (OT)

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.