Falmouth, Greely hockey teams one win from states
The Falmouth and Greely boys' hockey teams began the week with their dreams of winning a state championship still very much in play.
Yarmouth wasn't as fortunate.
In Western A, Falmouth, ranked second in the region after a 14-3-1 regular season, enjoyed an emphatic 7-1 home victory over No. 7 Biddeford in last Tuesday's quarterfinals, thanks to a hat trick from Hugh Grygiel and two goals from Brandon Peters.
That win advanced the Yachtsmen to Saturday's semifinals at the Colisee in Lewiston versus No. 3 Gorham, a team Falmouth beat, 5-3, at home, Dec. 22.
Falmouth skated better than Gorham early in the first frame, but the Rams' defenders did well to keep the Yachtsmen's scoring chances to a minimum.
Gorham eventually went against the flow of play and scored the first goal of the contest on its sixth shot. Its lead in both shots and goals was short-lived, as the goal appeared to awaken the sluggish Yachtsmen. Falmouth finally found an answer as Isac Nordstrom knocked the puck in from the left side of the crease to knot the game at the 11:38 mark.
Several shots and 2:06 later, Falmouth took its first lead. Jake Grade took a feed up the right side of the ice from Jack Pike and fired a shot toward the cage. The shot was saved into the right corner, but Grade chased the rebound down and fired it back toward the net, somehow finding the twine from nearly on the goal line below the right circle.
Falmouth held a 2-1 lead entering the final frame. With 5:08 to play, Grygiel scored to make it 3-1.
After Gorham got back within a goal. Grygiel scored two more in quick succession to apparently put the game out of reach, but the plucky Rams would not quit, adding another goal, to cut the Falmouth advantage to 5-3 with 1:49 to play.
Kris Samaras pounded home an empty-netter to thwart any other thought of a full comeback at 14:45 to ice the game and the Yachtsmen advanced, 6-3.
Tuesday evening, back in Lewiston, Falmouth faced top-ranked Scarborough (19-1) in the regional final (please see theforecaster.net for game story).
The Yachtsmen dropped two close decisions to the Red Storm in the regular season, 4-3 at Scarborough eight days before Christmas and 2-1 at home Feb. 19.
Scarborough had won three of the prior four playoff meetings between the schools, including the 1996 Western B Final. Falmouth's lone prior win was a 5-3 decision in last year's semifinals.
If the Yachtsmen advanced to their first ever Class A state final and their first in any class since losing to Winslow in the 1997 Class B Final, they would face either perennial finalist Lewiston (16-3-1) or Bangor (16-4) Saturday at 6 p.m., at the Colisee.
Falmouth lost, 3-2, at Lewiston Dec. 19 and downed the visiting Blue Devils, 3-1, Jan. 5. The Yachtsmen beat the visiting Rams, 3-2, Jan. 3.
In Western B, defending state champion Greely went 14-4 this season (with two of the losses coming by forfeit after it was learned an ineligible player had been used). The Rangers still wound up first in the region and got a bye into Friday's regional final against No. 5 Cape Elizabeth, which was coming off a quarterfinal round over fourth-ranked Yarmouth (more on the Clippers in a moment).
Greely had beaten the Capers twice in the regular season, 7-3 at home and 5-4 away and got pushed in the semifinal, but had the answers.
Aidan Black scored just 1:13 into the contest for a 1-0 Rangers advantage. A penalty with 23 seconds to play in the first gave Greely its second opportunity with an extra skater, though, and after missing on the first chance, the Rangers connected on the second. With 10 seconds to play in the period, Mitchel Donovan tapped in a perfect feed from Ted Hart at the right post to push the lead to 2-0.
In the second period, with Greely a man short after a slashing call, Cape Elizabeth took advantage as Brandon Negele smacked home a rebound in the crease to cut the Rangers' lead in half at 2-1. The goal seemed to spark Greely. Just 1:18 later, Black netted his second of the game to reestablish a two-goal advantage. And with 2:26 to play in the middle frame, Reid Howland snuck in behind the Cape defenders and lifted a backhander past keeper Grant Rusk for a 4-1 advantage.
Jarod Lavallee, a freshman, lofted a backhander high glove just after Greely killed off a penalty at 6:56 of the third to push the lead to 5-1. Eli Breed added a second goal for the Capers with 5:12 to play on a feed across the top of the crease from Curtis Guimond to give his team a breath of hope, but late-game goals from Matt Ames and Lavallee sealed the deal for the Rangers, who advanced to face Camden Hills (15-4) in the regional final, which was played Wednesday night in Lewiston (please see theforecaster.net for game story).
Greely swept the Windjammers in the regular season, winning with ease at home Feb. 12, 9-1, then escaping in overtime on the road, 4-3, three days later.
If the Rangers were able to make it back to the state final for the fourth time in seven seasons, they would meet either Messalonskee (17-2), in a rematch of last year's final (won by Greely, 6-2) or John Bapst (14-5-1) Saturday at 1 p.m., at the Colisee.
Yarmouth went 6-10-2 in the regular season, but still earned the No. 4 seed for the playoffs. The Clippers hosted Cape Elizabeth, a team they beat (2-0) and tied (2-2) in the regular season in last Tuesday's Western B quarterfinals.
Despite two goals from Isaak Dearden, another from David Clemmer and 28 saves from goalie Red DeSmith, Yarmouth fell just short, 4-3, and finished the season 6-11-2.
Sun Journal sports editor Justin Pelletier contributed to this story.