Hungry Dragons hand Yarmouth second straight loss

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Brunswick senior Nate Granholm celebrates a goal during the Dragons’ 4-2 home win over Yarmouth Wednesday night. 

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

BRUNSWICK—Yarmouth’s boys’ hockey team is quickly learning that its fast start this season means absolutely nothing.

Brunswick, meanwhile, is quickly inserting itself into the Class B South playoff mix.

Wednesday evening, the contenders did battle at Sidney J. Watson Arena and it was clear from the get-go that the Dragons were the hungrier team.

Despite being outshot in the opening period, the Clippers took a 1-0 lead on junior Bill Jacobs’ goal, but just 36 seconds into the second period, Brunswick pulled even when senior Matthew Deveaux redirected classmate Nate Granholm’s rocket for a power play goal..

The Dragons then went on top to stay 41 seconds later, on another power play goal, when sophomore Andrew Eno scored unassisted.

Brunswick scored its lone even strength goal with 1:41 to play in the second, as senior Jameson Cyr tickled the twine, and the Dragons preserved the 3-1 lead early in the third when sophomore goalie Riley Kirk helped kill a Yarmouth power play.

With 8:45 remaining, senior Jacob Towle gave Brunswick even more breathing room and even though senior Walter Conrad scored for the Clippers with 3:39 to go, the Dragons went on to a much-needed 4-2 victory.

Brunswick snapped a two-game skid, improved to 6-5-1 and handed Yarmouth its second straight loss and dropped the Clippers to 7-2 in the process.

“We just lost to Cape and York, so we were reeling a little bit and feeling sorry for ourselves,” said Dragons coach Bill Bodwell. “This is really big for us. The guys are feeling better about themselves.” 

New rivalry

Brunswick dropped from Class A to B this winter and joined Yarmouth in the new South region. Both teams appear playoff-bound.

The Dragons have been up and down. They opened with a 4-0 home loss to Cony, then won at Maranacook (10-1) and Lake Region (8-3). After a 7-1 home loss to Cheverus, Brunswick downed visiting Mt. Ararat (10-4), lost at home to Gardiner (5-0), tied host Cape Elizabeth (2-2), won at Leavitt (6-2) and Mt. Ararat (4-2) and lost at home to Cape Elizabeth (4-1) and York (3-1).

The Clippers opened by beating visiting Gardiner (2-0) and Gorham (4-1). Yarmouth then won at Kennebunk, 5-1, Cheverus, 4-3, and Cape Elizabeth (7-1) to close 2015 and opened the new year by downing visiting Maranacook (10-2) and host Thornton Academy (4-1) before finally meeting its match Saturday when it let a 2-0 lead slip away in a 3-2 home loss to Waterville.

The teams last met two years ago, a 5-4 overtime win for the host Clippers.

Wednesday, Brunswick carried play for most of the 45 minutes.

The Dragons set the tone in the first period, even though they weren’t rewarded.

Early in the game, Brunswick pressured Yarmouth sophomore goalie Dan Latham, but Latham made a series of saves to keep the game scoreless.

It took nearly six minutes for the Clippers to register a shot, a blast from junior Owen Ramsey, which Kirk saved.

Yarmouth finally broke the ice with 3:05 to go in the first period, as sophomore Cooper May carried the puck down the wing and fed Jacobs in front for a shot which found the target for a 1-0 lead.

After Latham preserved the lead by denying Eno and Towle, the Clippers took a penalty with 1:15 remaining and even though the Dragons didn’t break through, they got to start the second period a man up and quickly tied the score, then took the lead.

Just 36 seconds in, Granholm launched a shot from the blue line, which Deveaux tipped past Latham to tie the score, 1-1.

After a penalty to Jacobs, Brunswick went on top, 2-1, with 13:43 left in the second period, as Eno weaved through the defense before beating Latham.

“I thought we had better zone time than they did in the first period and I’ve got guys who can shoot, so I was hoping we’d break through,” Bodwell said.

Yarmouth tried to answer, but senior captain Patrick Grant was denied by Kirk, two more Grant shots were saved and Conrad twice was frustrated as well.

With 1:41 to play in the second, Cyr took a pass from sophomore Quinn Solbeerg and after a nifty move past a defender, put the puck into the net for a 3-1 lead.

Twenty-two seconds later, Brunswick opened the door a bit with a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty, but Conrad shot just wide and Grant was denied, sending the game to the third period with the Dragons still up two goals.

Yarmouth got 41 seconds of power play to start the third period and Conrad twice had a good looks, but both times, Kirk made the save and momentum swung to Brunswick for good.

“Riley played a great game, his best game of the year,” Bodwell said.

After Kirk stopped shots from junior Tyler Veilleux, Conrad and junior Nate Dealaman, Towle delivered the dagger with 8:45 to play, shooting through a screen on the power play and beating Latham to make it 4-1. Solbeerg and freshman Jacob Doring were given assists. 

With 3:39 remaining, Conrad scored (freshman Sam Marjerison got the assist) to give the Clippers a pulse, but Kirk slammed the door by denying May in close, then stopping another bid from May to punctuate Brunswick’s 4-2 victory.

Yarmouth, thanks to 13 shots in the third period, finished with a 25-23 shots on goal advantage and got 19 saves from Latham, but took five penalties and failed to score on three power plays.

“We ran into a team that wanted to compete and we didn’t,” lamented Clippers coach David St. Pierre. “When we don’t compete, we don’t win. We took a couple selfish penalties and they capitalized when they had to. When we think we can show up and win a game, it doesn’t happen. They earned the victory tonight. They outworked us and beat us to every puck. We need to work harder and play more as a team and not as individuals. That was a theme tonight. We had too many guys trying to do too much themselves.”

The Dragons got 23 saves from Kirk, went 3-for-4 on the power play and didn’t allow Yarmouth to take advantage of its man-up opportunities.

“We worked on man-down yesterday and those guys did really well tonight,” Bodwell said. “Our power play had the best night we’ve had all season.”

Playoffs come early

Yarmouth (still first in the Class B South Heal Points standings) is in the midst of a tough stretch that will go a long way in determining its playoff seed. Saturday, the Clippers hope to get back on track when they visit rival Greely in a playoff rematch. Monday, Yarmouth goes to Gorham, hoping to beat last year’s playoff nemesis for the second time this winter. The Clippers return home Saturday, Jan. 23 to host York.

Yarmouth, which started 0-5 a year ago before making a strong second half surge, knows that all the good work of December and early January could go for naught if it doesn’t turn things around.

“We had a great start to the year, but it was just a start,” St. Pierre said. “We’ve talked all year about how last year was the reverse. You can’t take things for granted. You have to show up every day and put forth the effort.”

Brunswick (now third behind Yarmouth and York in Class B South) hopes to keep the good times rolling at York Monday.

“We’re new to Class B South and there are no holidays,” Bodwell said. “A bunch of tough games. We’re right there. We have to skate harder than our opponent. We won’t win unless we outwork our opponent. That’s the bottom line. We won’t out-pretty teams. We have to grind. That’s how we’ll win.”

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

Yarmouth senior Patrick Grant lines up a shot.

Yarmouth junior Anders Newberg and Brunswick sophomore Max Burtis battle for the puck.

Brunswick sophomore Andrew Eno launches a shot as Yarmouth senior captain Walter Conrad defends.

Brunswick sophomore Michael Deveaux steers Yarmouth senior captain Patrick Grant away from the goal as Dragons sophomore goalie Riley Kirk looks on.

Brunswick sophomore Jared Hummer gets in the way of Yarmouth junior Anders Newberg in front of the goal.

Yarmouth senior captain Walter Conrad tries a wraparound shot as Brunswick sophomore goalie Riley Kirk and sophomore defenseman Max Burtis react.

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