Portland/Deering senior Lauren McIntyre brings the puck up the ice during Saturday’s 6-3 loss to York in the season finale. McIntyre was hurt in the second period and Portland/Deering fell short of a playoff berth.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—A season of promise ended in disappointment Saturday afternoon at Troubh Ice Arena.
The Portland/Deering girls’ hockey team, which won a grand total of two games combined the past two seasons, hosted York, entertaining faint playoff hopes, but those dreams were quickly dashed on Senior Night.
After the Wildcats took an early lead, Portland/Deering drew even on a goal from Kaylyn Madore, but that would prove to be its highwater mark, as York went up, 3-1, after one period.
Portland/Deering made things interesting early in the second period, when senior Mia Thurston scored the final goal of her illustrious career, but moments later, classmate and fellow standout Lauren McIntyre was robbed in close and even worse, suffered an apparent knee injury and had to leave the game.
The Wildcats added a goal before the end of the second, then put it away with consecutive goals in the third period and while Portland/Deering got a late tally from Kerry Wells, it was too little, too late and York prevailed, 6-3.
The Wildcats finished the regular season 9-9, likely locked up a home quarterfinal round playoff game and ended Portland/Deering’s season of rebirth at 6-12 in the process.
“This was a very successful season,” said Portland/Deering coach Tim Murphy. “I want the girls to keep their heads up. They had a heck of a year. We hoped to make it to the playoffs, but we were one game short.”
Portland/Deering didn’t win a single game in 2013-14, then went 2-15-1 last winter. This season, Portland/Deering expected to be much more competitive and did exactly that.
Portland/Deering started with losses at Scarborough (8-1) and at home to Biddeford (6-0), then beat visiting Winslow (5-3) and Mt. Ararat/Morse (3-1) to match last year’s win total. After a 10-0 loss at Falmouth, Portland/Deering was defeated by host Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland (5-1), visiting St. Dom’s (11-1) visiting Scarborough (6-0) and visiting Cheverus (4-0). After a 7-2 home victory over Gorham/Bonny Eagle, Portland/Deering lost at Brunswick (8-3), at home against Falmouth (8-0) and at York (4-3, in overtime) before bouncing back to down host Gorham/Bonny Eagle (7-2). Portland/Deering let a 2-0 lead slip away in a 6-3 loss to Cheverus in the “City Cup,” then won at Biddeford (4-3) and at home over Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland (4-2) to keep its playoff hopes alive.
York started the season 0-3 and was 1-6 at one juncture, then won seven of eight before losing to Falmouth and Cheverus.
York took the first meeting in overtime. This time around, the Wildcats won with relative ease.
Just 3 minutes, 42 seconds in, the Wildcats went on top, as junior Katherine Bartolini set up senior Maeve Campbell for a blast which beat Portland/Deering goalie Anna Freund up high for a 1-0 lead.
With 6:57 to go in the first, Madore got the puck in front and beat York junior goalie Sophia Stephens to tie the score (Sinead Scott and Raven Bradenday got assists).
After McIntyre took a penalty, the Wildcats took the lead for good with 2:25 to go in the first, as sophomore Sophia Blanchard rebounded junior Emma Ford’s shot past Freund for a 2-1 lead.
Inside the final minute, senior Eleanor Cifrino split a pair of defenders and finished to make it 3-1 York after one period.
Portland/Deering answered early in the second period, just as a power play expired, when Thurston banged home a loose puck (Madore got an assist).
Portland/Deering then looked for the equalizer and nearly got it when McIntyre got the puck right in front with 7:37 remaining in the second, but her blast was somehow snared by Stephens in the save of the game and making matters worse for the hosts, McIntyre was knocked to the ice on the play and couldn’t get up.
After lying prone for several minutes, McIntyre had to be carried off the ice and didn’t return (after the game, it was reported she had suffered a knee injury with the severity to be determined).
“That was terrible what happened to her,” Murphy said. “It was tough. The coaching staff was just as stunned as the girls.”
After Portland/Deering’s Lillian Frager took a penalty, York took advantage, as sophomore Grace Campbell scored on a rebound for a 4-2 lead, which stood heading into the third period.
There, the Wildcats put it away.
With 12:34 remaining, York got a shorthanded goal from sophomore Jessa Smith (assisted by Blanchard). Five minutes later, Campbell scored on a rebound to all but clinch it.
With 4:48 to go, Wells got Portland/Deering’s final goal (assisted by Brooke Fraser), but the hosts couldn’t get any closer and the Wildcats went on to the 6-3 victory.
“The truth is, York came out fired up and ready to play,” Murphy said. “They were prepared. Give them credit. They did an excellent job and won the game. It was a great game. The girls played right up until the end. We had a lot of shots.”
York projects to be the No. 4 seed in the South Region and will likely host No. 5 Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
Portland/Deering finished seventh (only six teams made the postseason), but played meaningful games right up until the end, made great strides and set the stage for even more success in 2016-17.
“The coaching staff did a good job teaching things that aren’t taught any more,” Murphy said. “We played as a team. Everybody was supportive. The parents, bar none, were the best I could ask for. It’s the best team I’ve ever coached when it comes to working as a team.
“We have good girls coming up. We’ll continue on. I’m optimistic. I hope we’ll continue the tradition.”
Portland/Deering senior captain Mia Thurston works her way around a York defender.
Portland/Deering’s Sinead Scott passes the puck past York sophomore Sophia Blanchard.
Portland/Deering goalie Anna Freund is beaten by York sophomore Jessa Smith for a third period goal.
Portland/Deering celebrates a goal.