THE PLAYOFFS Greely hockey reaches regional final again
Top-ranked Rangers crush rival York, 8-0 in semis
By Keith B. Wehmeyer
PORTLAND — It's a good start.
That's how Greely hockey coach Barry Mothes described the Rangers' 8-0 Western Class B semifinal win over York Saturday at the Portland Ice Arena.
Mothes' words effectively dismissed the Rangers' epic regular season in which they went 17-1 and defeated a who's-who list of top-flight opponents.
"Whatever happens in the regular season doesn't matter anymore," said senior captain Brian Allyn.
Greely faced Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final Wednesday (played too late for this edition) at the Colisee in Lewiston. The Capers defeated Leavitt, 4-1, to advance.
The rivals, Cape Elizabeth and Greely, met twice in the regular season, with the Rangers winning both contests. However, Cape Elizabeth defeated Greely, 3-1, in the Fix Cup Finals in early February. The teams have played in each of the past four postseasons, splitting the previous meetings.
"I am sure there will be a lot of emotion," Mothes said. "It will be a big rivalry game and there will be a big crowd in the Colisee, which is a great rink."
Against York, Allyn had two power-play goals in the first period as the Rangers went up, 3-0, and never looked back.
He added an assist in the third.
Fellow senior Jesse Shavel had three goal and two assists.
"My goals were kind of rebound goals," Allyn said. "Jesse had some really pretty goals. That's all I have to say. You just know whenever he is coming down he can pull from a full arsenal of moves. You are just waiting for it to come out. I think the toe drag is definitely his favorite."
Shavel pulled the toe drag from his bag of tricks early in the second period. Skating in right on goal, one-on-one with a defender, he dragged his toe and slid to his left while pulling the puck in close to his body before sending a backhander top shelf inside the left post.
"The defender thinks you are going right and you just bring it back," said Shavel, "The defender shouldn't really let it beat him, but..."
Greely's defenders, on the other hand, couldn't be beat. Even on its four power-play chances, York had to battle for every shot, getting outshot while skating with a man advantage on more than one occasion. When the Wildcats did muster a shot, rebounds were scarce to nonexistent.
"Kevin Hart, he is amazing," Shavel said. "And we have a lot of other (defensemen) who are really playing well. Ryan Howland has gotten so much better and Carter Cyr is just hitting everyone."
Add Jake Downey into the mix and you have a defensive unit that has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 straight games, and surrendered only one goal in nine of the last 10.
"Keeping York off the board is a testament to them and (goalie) Matt Labbe," Allyn said. "Labbe played really well."
Labbe made 15 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
After scoring three goals in the first period, the Rangers scored three in the second and two in the third.
Downey, Brian Hart and Kyle Selig each scored. Kevin Hart, who was hobbled by an illegal boarding hit in the first period, had two assists.
While Greely defeated York, 7-1, in the teams' first meeting of the season, the Wildcats played the Rangers tough when they faced off at Family Ice Center in January. York led by a goal late in the second period before the Rangers came back to win, 5-3.
"We were outshooting them but it was a close game," Mothes said. "In some ways, that game, right around that time, was when this team started to get its identity and understand it had to work harder."
The teams were meeting in the postseason for the seventh time in nine years. Greely now leads, 4-3.
If the Rangers can advance to their second-ever state game (they lost 4-3 to Brewer in overtime two years ago), they would meet either Winslow (10-8-1) or Presque Isle (10-7-3) Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Colisee for all the marbles.
Greely won 9-4 at Winslow Jan. 8 and romped over visiting Presque Isle 10-1 in a game played at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Jan. 17. The Rangers have no prior playoff history with either team.