DAVID ST. PIERRE—Yarmouth hockey
Most teams that start 0-5 never even sniff the playoffs, let alone go on a long win streak and get to the cusp of the regional final, but the Yarmouth boys’ hockey squad managed that feat this winter.
Coach David St. Pierre, a link to the Clippers’ glory days, kept the confidence of his charges high and was rewarded as Yarmouth surged to the finish line. Even though the Clippers’ title dreams ended in agony, they had a season to remember and as a result, The Forecaster is naming David St. Pierre our Northern edition Winter Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.
St. Pierre played in high school at Edward Little and spent time coaching at the bantam and middle school levels. He spent eight years as an assistant to Scott Matusovich, including the 2001-02 season, when Yarmouth won its most recent Class B championship. After Matusovich stepped down, St. Pierre did the same, but he missed the game and he returned to the Clippers as an assistant to 2010 Coach of the Year Marc Halsted, helping Yarmouth return to contention.
“I came back because I missed working with the kids and seeing them develop,” St. Pierre said.
St. Pierre took over as the head coach for the 2011-12 campaign and led the Clippers to 12 wins and the semifinals his first season. After making it to the quarterfinals each of the past two years, Yarmouth faced a brutal early season stretch and lost its first five outings.
“I wasn’t overly concerned because of the schedule,” St. Pierre said. “We’d been improving each game even if it didn’t show with wins and losses. We were making strides. ‘Nobody’s walking through the door to help us’ was our motto.”
A win over rival Greely appeared to do the trick, but the Clippers turned right around and lost to York. Then, everything clicked and Yarmouth went on a 9-1-1 surge to end the regular season at 10-7-1, good for the No. 2 seed in Western B.
“We felt like we’d turned the corner with the Greely win, then York was a big wakeup call, but then we won a few and the kids saw the fruits of their labor, which was huge,” St. Pierre said.
The Clippers got a test from Greely in the quarterfinals, but advanced, 4-2. In the semifinals, in Lewiston, Yarmouth drew defending regional champion Gorham and absolutely dominated the first period, but couldn’t put the Rams away. Gorham eventually took the game in overtime, 3-2, leaving the Clippers lamenting what-if.
“There was a ton of parity in the league this year and I knew we had as good a shot as anyone,” St. Pierre said. “After the loss, I didn’t have a season-ending speech ready. I had so much confidence, but we just didn’t get the bounce we needed.”
St. Pierre has enjoyed the benefit of turning to Matusovich, now his assistant.
“As far as I’m concerned, (Scott’s) one of the best coaching minds I’ve seen,” St. Pierre said. “He teaches about the game and about life. When I got the job, he was the first phone call I made.”
St. Pierre also brought back program legend Dennis Hunt (who has six championships to his credit as a coach and player).
St. Pierre works at L.L. Bean, lives in Yarmouth and is the father of three. He’s driven to return the Clippers to the pinnacle and it appears they’re getting close.
One of these years, if David St. Pierre, our Northern edition boys’ team Winter Coach of the Year, has anything to say about it, Yarmouth’s going to break through and the circle will be complete.
2013-14: Rob Hale (Greely swimming)
2012-13: Deron Barton (Falmouth hockey)
2011-12: Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)
2010-11; Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)
2009-10: Marc Halsted (Yarmouth hockey)
2008-09: Barry Mothes (Greely hockey)
2007-08: Craig Sickels (Freeport basketball)
2006-07: Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)
2005-06: Jorma Kurry (Falmouth itrack)
2004-05: Scott Rousseau (Falmouth hockey)
2003-04: Barry Mothes (Greely hockey)
2002-03: John Maloney (Yarmouth basketball)
2001-02: Scott Matusovich (Yarmouth hockey)
JOEL ROGERS—Greely basketball
The Greely girls’ basketball team had been frustrated bridesmaids for a decade and when this season began with a discouraging home loss to Gray-New Gloucester, it appeared the Rangers might be not quite good enough yet again.
Instead, by the end of the season, they were the best team in the state, running roughshod over the opposition and embarking on an absolutely breathtaking and emphatic tournament run.
Pushing the right buttons all season was coach Joel Rogers and his finished product earns him The Forecaster’s nod as our Northern edition Winter Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.
Rogers had quite the playing career, starting at Portland High in the mid-1970s. He later played and coached for semi-pro teams in Vermont and Maine. He got his start as a high school coach at Portland with old high school teammate Joe Russo and also worked in Falmouth. After assisting Billy Goodman at Greely, he returned to Portland for a year to coach the freshman boys when the Greely varsity job opened and even though he hadn’t been a head coach on the varsity level, Rogers took over for the 2012-13 season. After losing to Lake Region in the tournament that season and again in 2013-14, the Rangers were ready to go all the way this winter.
After the inauspicious 59-47 home loss to Gray-New Gloucester to start the year, Greely’s talent became undeniable. Rogers relied on Miss Maine Basketball, Ashley Storey, and fellow senior Haley Felkel (who missed much of the opener) to help stabilize the team, while youngsters like Molly Chapin, Maddie Cyr, Sarah Felkel, Isabel Porter and Moira Train came of age. The Rangers did stumble in early January at York, but won their final nine to go 16-2 and enter the tournament with the No. 3 seed in Western B.
Greely was ready to go on a run for the ages.
“We realized after the Gray loss that we couldn’t win without Haley on the floor,” Rogers said. “We got on a roll, then lost at York. There were some key moments. I pulled all five starters after a slow start against Yarmouth. The reserves went on a 7-0 run and the starters cheered them on. That made my point that it was important to get off to a good start. I tweaked our offense after the second Falmouth game and when Wells forced us to go to a man-to-man defense, that defense won the state championship for us.”
In the tournament, the Rangers avenged years of frustration at the hands of defending state champion Lake Region with a quarterfinal round victory, reversed the Opening Night loss with a demolition of Gray-New Gloucester in the semifinals, then ended Cape Elizabeth’s Cinderella run in the regional final. In the state game, Greely fell behind early, 5-0, to Presque Isle, then erupted to lead, 33-10, at halftime and the Rangers cruised to their first championship in 11 years.
Rogers credits much of his coaching success to the role played by his assistant, Diana Manduca, the one-time Deering High and Colby College star.
“I’m no genius, but hiring Diana was genius,” Rogers said. “I’m nothing without her.”
Rogers lives in Falmouth and is an administrator at Falmouth By The Sea and Foreside Harbor. He looks forward to trying to guide a team with a different look, but one with a lot of promise, to a repeat title next winter.
And that’s a distinct possiblity. Joel Rogers, our Northern edition girls’ team Winter Coach of the Year, has shown that he knows how to get the most of his team and carry them to the top.
2013-14: Jeff Haley (Yarmouth/Freeport hockey)
2012-13: Nate Guerin (Greely hockey)
2011-12: Jay Lowery (Yarmouth basketball)
2010-11: Mark Ouellette (Greely Alpine skiing)
2009-10: Rob Hale (Greely swimming)
2008-09: Billy Goodman (Greely basketball)
2007-08: Nick Nash (Yarmouth basketball)
2006-07: George Conant (Falmouth basketball)
2005-06: John Keyes (Falmouth swimming)
2004-05: John Folan (Greely track)
2003-04: Jim Seavey (Greely basketball)
2002-03: Jim Seavey (Greely basketball)
2001-02: Eric Austin (NYA basketball)
Other edition winners:
Portland: Dan Lucas (Portland hockey), Billy Goodman (McAuley basketball)
Southern: Norm Gagne (Scarborough hockey), Chris Casterella (Cape Elizabeth basketball)