Falmouth, Greely hockey near repeat titles
(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Cape Elizabeth boys' hockey story, please visit theforecaster.net)
The calendar has flipped to March and the Falmouth and Greely boys' hockey teams found themselves on the brink of more hardware at press time.
The Yachtsmen skated against Scarborough in the Western A Final Tuesday in Lewiston, while the Rangers will battle Gorham in the Western B Final Wednesday at the same location.
Falmouth won its first ever Class A state title a year ago and earned the No. 1 seed for the Western A tournament this winter.
The Yachtsmen had no trouble with eighth-ranked South Portland in last Tuesday's quarterfinals, romping, 10-0, behind a hat trick from Jake Grade and two goals from Henry Norris.
Falmouth outshot the Red Riots, 61-4.
Saturday, the Yachtsmen went to Lewiston for the semifinals where they were almost upset by fourth-ranked Noble/Wells.
Falmouth looked like it was going to romp again after taking a 3-0 first period lead behind two goals from Grade and another from Brandon Peters. After Noble/Wells crawled back to 3-2, Hunter Low scored to make it a two-goal game, but Noble/Wells scored again and the Yachtsmen's lead was just one, 4-3, heading for the third period.
Midway through, Noble/Wells tied the score and suddenly, Falmouth was on the ropes, but it wouldn't be denied as Andre Clement got the winner with 1:23 to play and the Yachtsmen held on, 5-4.
“We have been here before," said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. "We had three overtime games this year and we won them all. We had some tight games down the homestretch and I have to give credit to my guys too, hanging in there and finding a way to getting it done. (Noble/Wells) earned a spot here, no question about it. Maybe they weren't as talented as we were, but they wanted it as much or more (than) we did and it showed.”
The Yachtsmen (15-5) and Red Storm (14-5-1) played twice in the regular season, with each winning at home (Scarborough, 2-0, on Dec. 9 and Falmouth, 4-3, on Feb. 20).
The Red Storm entered Tuesday's game holding a 3-2 playoff edge over the Yachtsmen, but Falmouth had beaten Scarborough in each of the past two postseasons: 5-3 in the 2012 semifinals and 4-3 in last year's regional final.
The winner will face either Bangor (17-3) or St. Dom's (12-7-1) in the Class A Final Saturday at 6 p.m., at the Colisee in Lewiston.
Falmouth beat the visiting Saints, 3-1, on Dec. 12 and won, 5-4, at St. Dom's Jan. 29. The Yachtsmen downed visiting Bangor, 3-1, Jan. 31 and lost to the Rams, 6-3, on the road Feb. 3.
For much of the season, Greely didn't appear to have what it took to win a third straight Class B title or even make a playoff run, but sure enough, the Rangers find themselves in the regional final for the 10th time in 11 seasons.
Last Tuesday, Greely, ranked third in Western B, hosted No. 6 Cape Elizabeth in a contest many thought would be close, but the Rangers never trailed and prevailed, 5-2.
It took less than four minutes for Greely to go ahead for good, when senior captain Joe Saffian scored. Senior Tommy Thompson added a second goal with 9:44 to go in the first period and the Capers made a goalie change, but the Rangers didn't relent.
After Cape Elizabeth got on the board with 6:23 left in the first, Greely earned a huge dose of momentum when freshman Andrew Ray scored with just 15.1 seconds to go in the period.
"That was a huge goal," Ray said. "That put the energy on our side more. The puck came out after Aidan (Black) was scrapping. I saw it, shot and hoped for the best."
The Rangers then started the second period on the power play and took a 4-1 lead on a tally from junior Reid Howland, but the Capers drew back within two. Cape Elizabeth had its chances to creep even closer, but couldn't finish and with 6:55 remaining in the game, sophomore Nathan Gervais scored to provide breathing room and Greely went on to a 5-2 victory.
"I think we played really well," said Howland. "We worked hard and gave it everything. We've had quick starts this year and then had trouble keeping the lead, but we were able to keep the lead and push it to the end."
"I thought Cape was a dangerous team all year," Rangers coach Barry Mothes said. "They battled hard tonight. I never felt comfortable. I thought our guys played a very good first period. In the second, we started to get a little sloppy. We tightened up in ways that were important in the third. Our effort and energy were important tonight. We have to outwork the other team. I think we did that."
Friday night, in Lewiston, Greely downed No. 2 Camden Hills for the third time this season, holding on for a 3-2 triumph. Thompson had two goals and Black also scored as the Rangers improved to 10-7-3 on the season.
Gorham is the top-seed at 16-3, but Greely handed the Rams two of those losses, both by 2-1 scores.
The winner will face either Messalonskee (19-0) or Presque Isle (13-5-1) in the Class B state final Saturday at 1 p.m., in Lewiston.
The Rangers lost to visiting Messalonskee, 4-1, on Feb. 17, but beat the Eagles in each of the past two state games. Greely did not play the Wildcats this year.
Yarmouth was the No. 4 seed in Western B, but for the second year in a row lost at home in the quarterfinals, this time, 4-1, to No. 5 Kennebunk to finish the season 11-7-1. Freshman Bobby Murray had the lone goal for the Clippers.