(Ed. Note: For the complete Yarmouth-Greely boys’ hockey game story, with photos, see theforecaster.net)
Three Forecaster Country boys’ hockey teams laced up their skates for the playoffs, all hoping to make a deep run.
It wasn’t meant to be, however, and the season has come to an abrupt end for two Class B hopefuls and the two-time defending Class A state champions.
Falmouth won the 2013 and 2014 Class A crowns and entered the 2014-15 season as the favorite to win three in a row, something no Class A team had accomplished this century (Lewiston from 1982-84 was the last).
The Yachtsmen started 8-0, winning by a composite 58-3 margin, but they only went 5-5 the rest of the regular season. Regardless, Falmouth earned the top seed in Western Class A and handled No. 8 Portland/Deering in last Tuesday’s quarterfinal round, 10-2. The Yachtsmen got a hat trick from Robbie Armitage and got two goals apiece from Isac Nordstrom and Henry Norris as a five-goal third period put the game away.
The Yachtsmen travelled to Lewiston Saturday night to face No. 4 Scarborough in the semifinals. In each of the past two regional finals, Falmouth downed the Red Storm en route to championships, but Scarborough beat the Yachtsmen twice in the regular season: 3-1 and 2-1.
It’s never easy to beat a good team, especially the two-time reigning champion, three times in one season, but the Red Storm rallied and did so.
Falmouth grabbed a 2-0 lead behind goals from Chris Camelio and Jake Grade, but Scarborough answered late in the first period and tied the score in controversial fashion in the second period, as the Red Storm had the equalizer apparently waved off, but video review overturned the call and the goal counted. The Yachtsmen retook the lead, 3-2, on Hogan Tracy’s power play goal.
Falmouth held that advantage in the third period and had a chance to get some breathing room when Scarborough was given a five-minute penalty, but the Yachtsmen took a penalty and that allowed the Red Storm to tie the game with 7:03 remaining.
Falmouth’s man-advantage again didn’t last, as a penalty made it 4-on-4 again and with 3:31 to play, Scarborough took the lead for good. The Red Storm added a fifth goal with 2:09 to go and while the Yachtsmen got a goal from Brandon Peters with 1:34 remaining, but Falmouth couldn’t score again and lost, 5-4.
The Yachtsmen finished the season 14-6.
Yarmouth overcame an 0-5 start this season to go 10-7-1 and earn the No. 2 seed in Western B.
Last Tuesday, the Clippers hosted No. 7 Greely, which won just three games in the regular season, in the quarterfinals.
Not surprisingly, the Rangers hung tough for 45 minutes, but Yarmouth found a way to advance.
Yarmouth dictated play in the first period, enjoying a 13-4 shots advantage, but Greely, behind its pedigreed senior goalie, Kyle Kramlich, stayed right in it. The Clippers did take a 1-0 lead in the final minute, when junior Patrick Grant scored.
“I was able to collect a pass from the D on the boards, take it in the slot and throw it in near side,” Grant said.
When senior Sam Rouda scored just over five minutes into the second period, Yarmouth appeared in good shape, but late in the period, Greely cut its deficit in half courtesy a power play goal from sophomore Jack Saffian.
Entering the third period, both teams knew the next goal would be critical and the hosts got it, on a power play blast from junior Walter Conrad.
I found a little time, saw an open lane and luckily Kyle was screened,” Conrad said. “It bounced into the net.”
The Clippers appeared to be in good shape, but the proud Rangers refused to go quietly, again pulling within one on the power play when junior Nick Caputo struck with 9:22 to go.
Greely had a power play chance to tie when the Clippers were guilty of having too many men on the ice with 4:12 to play, but this time, Yarmouth’s defense came up big and that set the stage for freshman Cooper May to ice it with an empty net goal with 37.8 seconds remaining and the Clippers held on for a 4-2 victory.
“It feels great,” Grant said. “Playoff hockey is nothing compared to the regular season. We knew they’d come out and give it everything they had. Our message was we weren’t going to let go of the game. We gave them a little life, so we had to put them down. We got more into a defensive style of hockey and I think that helped us out in the end.”
“This is the first playoff game I’m privileged enough to win and it’s a great feeling,” Conrad said. “We know it’s a different game in the playoffs. We knew Greely would come out flying tonight and they didn’t give us anything we didn’t expect. There were big momentum shifts here and there, but we stayed solid. To close it out was just awesome.”
“It’s not a typical 2-7 matchup,” added Yarmouth coach David St. Pierre. “We’ve had some memorable battles over the years (with Greely) and I fully expected this to be a tight game all the way through.”
The Rangers finished 3-15-1, but proved they belonged in the postseason.
“I’m really proud of the effort tonight, our focus from the get-go and the effort for three periods,” said longtime Greely coach Barry Mothes. “We kept coming back hard. We had some good looks. If we were more lethal on the finish, we could have had four or five goals.
“We’ve gotten stronger as a team the last few weeks. We had so much adversity all season. We’re young and we’ve had untimely injuries. We learned we have to keep battling. We spent a lot of time talking about playing hockey the right way and becoming more generous with the puck as a team. We made some advances. I’m glad we had this experience. I’d rather be here than not.”
Kramlich finished with 30 saves, capping a terrific four-year career which saw him backstop a pair of state championship teams.
“(Kyle) had a strong game,” Mothes said. “He’s had an outstanding career. It’s hard to believe it’s over. He leaves an incredible legacy. The playoffs have always brought the best out of him. A couple goals tonight were turnovers and breakdowns and the power play goal was a well placed shot with a lot of traffic in front. I’m not sure he saw that the way he wanted to.”
Look for Greely to bounce back with a vengeance in 2015-16.
“To pull it together and play a game like this gives us something to build on for next year,” Mothes said. “Other than Kyle, everyone else on the ice tonight and seven or eight injured guys are coming back. We have a lot to work on. We’ll continue to try and play a tough schedule. It’s not all about wins and losses. You need to win enough games to get in the tournament. I’d like to think we can build on this and carry it into next November and start from a stronger place than we did four months ago.”
Yarmouth advanced to Lewiston where it met No. 6 Gorham, the defending regional champion, in Friday’s semifinals. The Clippers beat the Rams twice in the regular season, 2-1 and 1-0, but couldn’t do it a third time.
Grant put Yarmouth ahead early with a goal, but the Clippers should have had more, as they dominated all 15 minutes. Late in the second period, on the power play, Gorham pulled even. The Clippers went on top, 2-1, on a goal from Tyler Hall with 10 minutes to play, but with 5:32 remaining, the Rams again tied the score and it was on to overtime. There, three minutes in, a goal gave Gorham a 3-2 victory, ending the Clippers’ season at 11-8-1.
Yarmouth junior Walter Conrad fires a shot on Greely senior goalie Kyle Kramlich during the Clippers’ 4-2 win in the teams’ Western Class B quarterfinal last week.
Yarmouth junior Walter Conrad and Greely sophomore Dylan Fried battle for the puck during last week’s playoff contest.