Falmouth senior Theo Hembre, center, is congratulated by classmates Nick Farnham (5) and Brendan Hickey after scoring one of his four goals in Monday’s 4-2 home win over Bangor.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
FALMOUTH—In a season full of fits and starts, Falmouth’s boys’ hockey team is seeking consistency entering a critical stretch of its schedule.
The Yachtsmen got an early and positive start on that quest Monday morning when dangerous Bangor paid a visit to Family Ice Center and the Yachtsmen rode the renewed scoring touch of senior Theo Hembre to a desired result.
Just 67 seconds into the contest, Falmouth went on top as Hembre finished on a rush.
Yachtsmen freshman goalie Sam Kidder kept the Rams off the board to preserve the lead into the first intermission.
Falmouth doubled its lead late in the second period when Hembre scored a power play goal, but Bangor answered right back on a tally from junior Nick Boudreau to again make it a one-goal game after two periods.
In the third period, the Yachtsmen again went up by two goals, as Hembre completed his hat trick at the 2:22 mark, but again, the Rams answered and cut the deficit to 3-2 with 7:54 remaining, when junior Jacob Munroe scored unassisted.
Hembre, fittingly, then delivered the dagger, scoring his fourth goal with 3:41 to play, and Falmouth went on to a 4-2 victory.
The Yachtsmen improved to 6-4-1 and in the process, dropped Bangor to 6-2.
“(Theo’s) been bubbling over,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. “We knew it was going to come eventually. We just didn’t know when. He’s struggled with finishing. He gets a lot of opportunities. Today, obviously he converted very well.”
Falmouth has been one-step-forward, one-step-back in its defense of its Class A South title. The Yachtsmen started with wins at Massabesic (9-0), Scarborough (6-1) and Thornton Academy (5-3), then battled host St. Dom’s to a 3-3 tie. After a 4-2 home loss to Biddeford, Falmouth downed visiting Scarborough, 5-1, to give Barton his 100th victory with the program. The new year started with a 7-3 loss at Greely in the “Dudley Cup” and a 5-4 setback at two-time Class A champion Lewiston in a rematch of last year’s state final. After a 5-3 home win over Portland/Deering, the Yachtsmen fell in overtime Wednesday at Biddeford, 4-3.
Bangor won six of its first seven games, falling only at Edward Little (2-0), a decision the Rams avenged Friday with a 3-2 home triumph over the Red Eddies.
Last year, Falmouth swept Bangor, winning 4-2 on the road and 4-1 at home. The Yachtsmen had won four straight in the series with the Rams’ last victory a 6-1 road triumph Jan. 15, 2015.
Monday’s contest was originally scheduled to be played Dec. 22, but poor weather pushed it back where despite the early puck drop, the Yachtsmen were on their game and prevailed.
Falmouth got the immediate jump when Hembre took a pass from sophomore Tyler Baker and skated in and beat Bangor senior goalie Zach Alden just 1 minute, 7 seconds in for the game’s first goal.. Senior Brendan Hickey was also credited with an assist.
For Hembre, the goal was a relief and came after some unorthodox homework.
“Coach told me to watch YouTube videos of NHL players in shootouts and I did that,” Hembre said. “I picked up a couple things and did it today. That first goal was nice. We got momentum early. It’s different playing early. We had a team breakfast. It was an early wakeup call, but I liked it.”
“We worked with (Theo) on mental adjustments and how he’s looking at the net,” Barton said. “If you look our last three, four games it was the same thing, but today, he buried it.”
Kidder first made his presence felt at the 4:30 mark when, after a Yachtsmen turnover, sophomore David Brown skated in for the Rams but Kidder stopped him cold.
Later in the first, Brown got another chance on a rush, but again Kidder was up to the challenge, making the save.
With 9.1 seconds remaining, Brown was sent to the penalty box, the period’s lone penalty, and Falmouth nearly took advantage, but both Hickey and senior Marcus Cady were denied by Alden and the first period ended with the Yachtsmen on top, 1-0.
Falmouth started the second period a man up and had a couple good chances, but Alden denied both Hembre and junior Garrett Tracy.
Brown then tried to pull Bangor even, but Kidder made another save.
With 9:32 left in the second, Hembre was sent to the penalty box, but the Rams couldn’t capitalize on the power play, as their lone shot, by Boudreau, was saved by Kidder.
The Yachtsmen almost scored short-handed in that stretch, as Hickey set up senior Jacob Skillin-Lanou for a great look, but the shot hit the post.
After Kidder preserved the lead with saves on junior Reid Higgs and junior Hunter Neale, Falmouth went on the power play with 2:40 to go when Bangor sophomore Zach Burpee was called for tripping.
This time, the Yachtsmen capitalized, as with 2:20 on the clock, senior Nick Farnham passed to Hembre, who ripped a shot past Alden into the net to make it 2-0.
The Rams roared right back with 1:08 remaining, as Boudreau finished in front (Higgs and Brown got assists), and Falmouth clung to a 2-1 lead heading for the third period.
There, Hembre and his teammates put the finishing touches on their victory.
After Boudreau missed high on a shot which could have tied the score at 2:09, the Yachtsmen got a little breathing room, as Hembre completed his hat trick, scoring in front from Hickey and Baker.
“I wanted to keep pressure on their defense,” Hembre said. “It just happened that I was the one who scored. My linemates got me the puck in open spots.”
But this one wasn’t close to over.
With 7:54 to play, the Rams again cut the deficit to a single goal, as after a turnover, Munroe skated in and fired a shot past Kidder and into the net to make the score 3-2.
Bangor nearly tied with 5:01 on the clock, but Kidder made consecutive superb saves, first denying a blast from Boudreau, then turning aside Brown’s rebound attempt.
The visitors appeared to get a break with 4:45 to play, when they went on the power play, but 13 seconds later, they were called for a penalty of their own, negating the advantage.
Playing 4-on-4, Hembre struck for the final time with 3:41 remaining, this time scoring on the doorstep to make it 4-2.
Down the stretch, Kidder made a save on Bangor sophomore Ben Brook on a Rams’ power play and Falmouth closed out its 4-2 victory.
The Yachtsmen wound up going 1-for-2 on the power play and got 15 saves from Kidder, many of them clutch.
“Sam has done really well,” Hembre said. “He plays like a senior. He makes big-time plays when we need it. It’s good to have him in there.”
“There’s a lot of inexperience there, but I told him he’s no longer an underclassmen,” Barton said. “He’s had the minutes. He works hard every day in practice and it shows.”
Alden stopped 17 shots for the Rams.
The teams will square off again Friday in Bangor. Falmouth then has to travel to Portland/Deering and defending Class B South champion York, hosts Lewiston and Cheverus, plays at Cheverus, then closes the regular season at home versus St. Dom’s.
“I think we’re in a good position,” Hembre said. “We don’t have a target on our backs like we usually do. We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’re the hardest working team and I think we’ll continue to show that.”
“We lost a lot from last year and we have a lot of older players who hadn’t played a lot of minutes,” Barton said. “To get them comfortable, you have to play them and let them make mistakes. That’s been the story of our season up to now. They’re getting better every day. It’s all about the playoffs. I’d rather have the guys get tough minutes than easy minutes. We’ve survived tough games and gotten a good experience. That makes us tougher. We know what to expect.”
Falmouth senior Jacob Skillin-Lanou skates with the puck.
Falmouth freshman goalie Sam Kidder watches a Bangor shot go wide.
Falmouth junior Garrett Tracy shoots the puck on goal.
Falmouth freshman Owen Drummey shoots the puck.
Falmouth senior Marcus Cady tries to get the puck past Bangor goalie Zach Alden.
Falmouth senior Theo Hembre scores one of his four goals.