Scarborough girls' hockey wins Falmouth showdown
PORTLAND—If the Scarborough girls' hockey team ever figures out the first period, it will be invincible.
For now, it will have to settle for pretty darn good.
While the Red Storm once again battled a sluggish start Saturday afternoon in its showdown with Falmouth at the Cumberland County Civic Center, Scarborough was able to overcome and continued its special season with yet another victory.
After surrendering the game's first goal just 4 minutes, 23 seconds in, the Red Storm tied the game on a power play tally from senior Sarah Martens seven-plus minutes later. Just 102 seconds into the second period, Rachael Wallace scored to put Scarborough ahead to stay and in the third, the Red Storm poured it on, getting a second goal from Wallace, another tally from Martens and one from Sam Nablo to pull away for a 5-1 victory.
Scarborough, which was spectacular on special teams and in net, improved to 13-1-1 and is back on top in the West Region, while third-ranked Falmouth fell to 11-6.
"This has been our trend, we come out slow," said Red Storm coach Caitlin Cashman. "Our nerves were a little high. We have to work through that."
Can't hold them down long
Falmouth lost to Greely in last year's state game and after graduating standout Megan Fortier and being hampered by injuries, the Yachtsmen have been up-and-down this winter. After splitting its first four outings, Falmouth ran off three wins in a row, then was upset by Cape Elizabeth. That was followed by a six-game win streak, which ended Monday with a 4-2 loss at York.
Scarborough was ousted in the semifinals last year, but has been almost unstoppable this winter, winning 12 times (by a composite 64-3 margin), losing only once (2-1, in OT, at York, Jan. 5) and tying once (2-2 at home versus Greely Dec. 22). One of its wins was 7-0 at home over the Yachtsmen on Dec. 3.
Falmouth took last year's meeting, 2-1, at Scarborough.
Saturday, the Red Storm took a few minutes to figure it out, but once it did, the Yachtsmen, despite ample opportunities, couldn't find an answer.
In the opening moments, Falmouth got shots from senior Gabby St. Angelo and freshman Martina St. Angelo, but Scarborough goalie Devan Kane made saves.
Then, with 10:37 left in the first, junior Alyse Bazinet fired a shot from the blue line through a screen, Kane reacted too late and the puck tickled the twine for a 1-0 Yachstmen advantage.
Cashman wasted no time calling timeout.
"Falmouth's always a really strong team," Cashman said. "We knew we would have a game. I had mentioned (to my assistants) I was going to call timeout when we got a whistle, but unfortunately, that whistle was a goal. I wanted to settle them down and stop Falmouth's momentum. We told them they had to pick it up and get it together. They had to get hungry and passionate."
The timeout worked.
First, Martina St. Angelo and freshman Camden Currier had chances to double the lead, but Kane stood tall.
Then, with 3:15 left in the first period, after Falmouth sophomore Meg Pierce was sent to the penalty box for hooking, the Red Storm tied the score.
It would be Martens, with her flair for the dramatic, doing the honors, pouncing on a loose puck in front and beating Yachtsmen junior goalie Hillary Nash, with Wallace and Alyssa Hulst getting assists.
"We have to get our heads into it sooner," Wallace said. "It's one of the biggest things we need to work on. We had butterflies and came out not knowing what to expect. We got ourselves back together during the timeout. We put one in a little later."
"On the power play, we had confidence," Cashman said. "We tell (the girls) we have two full minutes to score. We don't need to rush."
Falmouth had a 12-5 shots advantage in the first period, but the initial 15 minutes ended in a 1-1 deadlock.
It didn't take the Red Storm long to go ahead for good in period number two.
With 13:18 remaining, it was Wallace doing the honors, taking a pass from Tara Buckley in front and firing a shot that Nash couldn't handle to make it 2-1 Scarborough.
"I knew we just needed to shoot," Wallace said. "I got the puck, picked a side and it went in."
Midway through the second period, Falmouth had a 6-on-4 opportunity, but Kane twice denied senior Abby Payson to keep the Red Storm in front after two.
In the third period, Scarborough opened it up.
After Falmouth freshman Sarah Hutcheon shot just wide on a game-tying bid in the first minute, Wallace scored on a backhanded goal (assisted by Martens and Brenna Kent) for a 3-1 lead with 13:46 left to play.
With 11:18 remaining, while the Red Storm was killing a penalty, Martens scored shorthanded and that broke the Yachtsmen's spirit.
"I feel like we start out slow, but the third period's always our period," said Kane. "Ever since I was a freshman. We have such a powerful offense."
"In the second and third, we came out better," Cashman said. "When we're down a man, there's a sense of urgency. We're more focused."
A power play goal from Nablo with 7:40 to play (assisted by Martens) accounted for the 5-1 final score.
"The third period's always our period," Wallace said. "We did what we had to do to get it done."
Scarborough was outshot for the game, 31-17, but went 2-for-3 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal.
"Our penalty kill and power plays, we always do really well on," Wallace said. "We practice them a lot. We stay calm and don't really panic. We know how to work together."
The Red Storm also got 30 saves from Kane, who, like her team, only got stronger as the game progressed.
"I think the timeout helped," Kane said. "I put (the goal) behind me and focused on the next shot. (Falmouth's forwards) were really good at screening me, but my defensemen moved them and I could see the puck better."
Both coaches were impressed with Kane's effort.
"I wouldn't really qualify it as inability to score on our part," said Falmouth coach Rob Carrier. "It was a testament to their goalkeeping. They have the best goalie in the state. I'm not sure there's any offense the state has to offer that could punch in many goals on her, even with three straight power plays. We tried to generate shots and hoped to get lucky with a rebound. We couldn't buy one today."
"I thought Devan played really well today," Cashman said. "She's confident. If a goal goes in, she laughs it off. She has a strong mental game and that resonates with the whole team. She brings a sense of calm when she plays well, which is often."
Nash stopped 12 shots for the Yachtsmen, who had their opportunities (going 0-for-5 on the power play), but couldn't finish.
"It's a bit of a bump in the road," said Carrier. "We've been hampered by illness and injury. I thought we played well for two periods and the third got away from us. We didn't have the same type of effort in the third. That's a little disappointing. We have to make better passes and better decisions. It cost us a couple goals. Offensively, we were a little hesitant at times shooting the puck. We just weren't making decisions quickly enough."
Almost playoff time
Falmouth has just one game remaining, a showdown at Greely Wednesday.
"We're pretty much locked into third place," Carrier said. "We're focusing more on playing well and less on the end result."
Scarborough still has three games to go. The Red Storm is home against Biddeford Tuesday, visits Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete Thursday, then closes at Cheverus next Saturday.
"We have to keep our heads up," Kane said. "We tend to psyche ourselves out. If we go in thinking (playoffs) are just like a normal game, we'll go far. This team, I've never seen anything like it. We're strong and ready to win. We're sick and tired of losing in the first round."
"The league's so tight this year," said Cashman. "Nothing's guaranteed. We need to improve on D zone coverage and not panicking with the puck in our zone."