By Keith B. Wehmeyer
PORTLAND – The Falmouth boys’ hockey team squandered an early two-goal lead Monday, falling in overtime, 4-3, to Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals of the third annual “Fix Cup” at the Portland Ice Arena.
Leading 3-1, the Yachtsmen had all the momentum against a Capers team that appeared overmatched in the opening 15 minutes. However, Falmouth couldn’t equal the intensity – or scoring – of its former Class B rival over the final two periods and overtime.
“We had the game at 3-1,” said Falmouth coach Scott Rousseau, “But they worked much harder than we did to get the game tied. We tried to turn it back on, but emotion is not a light switch. You can’t just turn it on an expect everything to be okay.”
And in overtime, everything wasn’t okay for the Yachtsmen. Falmouth controlled play for most of the extra period, but 4:42 into sudden death, junior Sam St. Germain found Sean Eubanks on a breakaway. Eubanks, a senior captain, slipped the puck through the legs of Falmouth goalie Jay Hurdman for the game-winner.
“I got a nice pass form (St. Germain) and just went around the guy and put it through his five-hole,” said Eubanks. “I was just hoping it went in. I was going as fast as I could.”
It was Eubanks’ second goal of the game. He opened the scoring 2:26 into the first period, putting a backhanded shot inside the left post. St. Germain assisted on that goal as well.
For Eubanks, and the other Cape Elizabeth seniors, the win helps avenge a lopsided loss in the inaugural Fix Cup two years ago when Falmouth defeated the Capers, 10-1, in the championship game.
“It meant a lot to (the seniors),” Cape Elizabeth coach Jason Tremblay said. “They’re excited. It’s a good opportunity for us, with our own big rival in Class B, to have a championship game within the year already.
The Capers will face Greely in the Fix Cup championship game Monday at 8 p.m. at the Portland Ice Area. Like Cape Elizabeth, Greely defeated a tough Class A opponent in overtime Monday, ousting Thornton Academy, 5-4. Falmouth will face the Golden Trojans in the consolation round Monday at 6 p.m.
The Fix Cup is an annual tournament modeled after the collegiate Beanpot tournament in Boston. The cup is named after the late broadcaster Frank Fixaris.
Falmouth senior captain Mike Chase opened the scoring for the Yachtsmen Monday with a power-play goal 4:09 into the opening period. Chase took a pass from sophomore Matt MacDowell, skated in from the point and flicked a point-blank wrist shot past Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Phil Jordan to tie the score at 1-1.
Five minutes later, Chase sent a pass across the top of the crease and onto the stick of senior Seth Fortier who was waiting at the far post. Fortier wasted no time, sending a one-timer into the net and giving Falmouth a one-goal lead.
Chase was credited with an assist on the goal, giving him 174 career points at Falmouth, tying him with James Tolan for the school record.
Junior Dixon Pike scored the Yachtsmen’s third and final goal on the power play with 34 seconds remaining in the opening period. Junior Julien Clement was credited with an assist, his second of the game.
The second period was all Cape Elizabeth. Senior Mike Holden shot through a screen to beat Hurdman, pulling the Capers within a goal at 2:45 in. Eubanks was credited with an assist. Then, just over a minute later, senior Zach Breed backhanded a loose puck through traffic to tie the score at three.
“They got a screen goal for their second and a scramble goal for their third,” Rousseau said. “Those are just hard work goals. They worked harder than us.
“To say we let the game get away would be a disservice to Cape Elizabeth and how hard they played.”
Falmouth regained its intensity in the third period, but its chances at the go-ahead goal were hampered by three penalties, including two in the final 5:30 of play.
The loss doesn’t count in the standings for the Yachtsmen, who have won four straight, the last a 12-0 home romp over Cheverus Saturday. Falmouth, 7-3 and second behind Thornton Academy in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings, is at Cheverus Thursday and hosts St. Dom’s Saturday before returning to PIA for the Fix Cup consolation game Monday.