Cheverus junior Jack Chaput tries to keep the puck away from Scarborough junior Nolan Matthews during the teams’ contest Thursday afternoon. Matthews scored three times in the Red Storm’s 5-0 victory.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Scarborough’s boys’ hockey team came to Troubh Ice Arena Thursday afternoon hungry for a victory and thanks to a terrific special teams effort and the scoring of junior Nolan Matthews, the Red Storm went home happy.
Scarborough had to kill seven minutes of Cheverus power plays in the first period and did so with aplomb and 1-minute, 39-seconds into the second period, a rebound goal from sophomore Zach Chaisson put the Red Storm ahead.
Matthews then took over the in the third period, scoring three times for a natural hat trick, and a late score from junior Dawson Gendreau brought the curtain down on a 5-0 victory.
Scarborough snapped a four-game losing streak, evened its record at 6-6-1 and in the process, dropped the undermanned Stags to 6-9.
“The way this league is, teams go through some rough stretches, but I thought our last game against TA, we really battled and took a step in the right direction,” said Red Storm coach Jacob Brown. “We talked about working the puck low and winning some battles.”
With Class A South featuring several teams capable of making a title run this year, playoff positioning is critical.
Cheverus and Scarborough have had their ups and downs this winter, but hope that a strong February carries them to big things.
The Red Storm dropped a 3-2 overtime decision at Falmouth to start the year, but followed with wins at Edward Little (3-0), at home over Marshwood (4-1) and at Massabesic (1-0). After a 4-3 setback at St. Dom’s, Scarborough blanked visiting Kennebunk (6-0), settled for a 2-2 home tie against Yarmouth, then edged visiting Gorham (2-1). The Red Storm then encountered tough times, as they lost at home to Thornton Academy (6-3), at defending regional champion Biddeford (3-2), at South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (5-2) and at Thornton Academy (2-0).
Cheverus started with a 6-2 home loss to St. Dom’s and after a 6-3 home win over Lake Region, fell at home to Lewiston (10-1) and Biddeford (5-0), last year’s two state finalists. After a 6-5 win at Portland/Deering, the Stags fell at Thornton Academy (4-1) and Lewiston (8-1), then lost at home to Cape Elizabeth (6-4) and at Bangor (5-4). The turnaround began with a 5-1 win at Lake Region and continued with victories over visiting Portland/Deering (6-5), host South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (4-1) and Falmouth (3-1). Saturday, Cheverus fell at St. Dom’s, 6-0.
Last year, the Stags won both meetings, 3-0 at home and 5-0 at Scarborough.
Thursday, the Red Storm surged in the third period to return the favor.
The first period saw Cheverus enjoy seven minutes of power play opportunities, but the Stags couldn’t put the puck in the net, as Red Storm junior goalie Caleb Sellinger and the Scarborough defense stood tall.
“We had to outwork their power play,” said Matthews. “It was that simple.”
“That was huge,” Brown said. “We put a lot of work into our penalty-kill. Coach (Tim) Coombs does the penalty kill stuff. He spends a lot of time with kids off the ice. They’re buying in. Special teams is all about working hard.”
The Stags, not surprisingly, viewed things differently.
“It was definitely frustrating.,” said Cheverus first-year coach Mike Carmody. “We’ve had some injuries and we have a short bench. We did a good job generating chances. If a bounce or two had gone the other way, it might have been different.”
The Red Storm got a couple chances late in the period, but Stags sophomore goalie Bryson Pomerleau denied both sophomore Zach Chaisson and junior Ethan Jasa on the doorstep to send the game scoreless to the first intermission.
While frustration continued to be the theme in the second period, the visitors managed to break through and score the game’s first goal.
After Cheverus couldn’t score on the final minute of its power play that carried over from the end of the first period, Scarborough took a 1-0 lead with 13:21 remaining in the period, as Chaisson got to a loose puck in front and beat Pomerleau.
“We’ve struggled scoring, but I thought we just needed one goal and that would get us going,” Brown said.
The Stags then went on the power play again and almost tied it, but Ryan Joyce’s lofting shot hit Sellinger in the helmet.
Cheverus even had 27 seconds of 5-on-3 power play, but again couldn’t produce, as Joyce was denied in front by Sellinger.
Midway through the period, Sellinger made a strong save on a shot on the doorstep from junior Alex Brewer.
Late in the period, the Red Storm got to go on the power play, but they also failed to score and after 30 minutes, Scarborough clung to a 1-0 lead.
Matthews then roared to life in the third period and the Red Storm pulled away.
Just 18 seconds in, with Scarborough playing 5-on-3, Matthews scored, with sophomore Grover Wallace getting an assist, to make it 2-0.
After Red Storm senior Patrick Clonan hit the crossbar, Matthews struck for the second time at 6:37, with Wallace again getting an assist and sophomore James Lilley earning one as well.
“We had to kill a penalty to start the third, then we took another 5-on-3,” Carmody said. “Scarborough’s a good team and to their credit, they took advantage.”
Matthews completed his natural hat trick at 8:17 of the third, with junior Kevin Wood and Chaisson getting assists.
“It was only a one-goal game (at the start of the third period) and I knew I had to put the puck in,” Matthews said. “I was just in the right spot and won some battles. It was awesome to get a hat trick.”
“That’s the way (Nolan) plays and practices every day” Brown said. “He’s a grinder who loves to get to the net. He does everything a coach wants and it’s good to see him rewarded.”
After Sellinger made his last save, robbing senior Colby Anton, Scarborough made it 5-0 on Gendreau’s breakaway goal with 3:39 left (freshman Sam Rumelhart got the assist) and the Red Storm closed out their victory.
“We got pucks to the net and won battles in the corners and fore-checked hard,” Matthews said.
Scarborough enjoyed a 28-15 edge in shots on goal and got 15 saves from Sellinger.
Cheverus never could convert on its many power play chances. The Stags got 23 saves from Pomerleau.
Cheverus (sixth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) goes to Yarmouth Saturday, then closes with home games versus Thornton Academy and Falmouth.
“We’ll get a couple guys back and when we can play full, we’re a very dangerous team and I think the guys know that,” Carmody said. “It’s wide-open. Anyone can beat anyone in the South. If we get in, we’ve got a really good shot. Same as everybody else.
Scarborough (fifth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) is back in action Saturday at home versus Lake Region. After a trip to Marshwood Monday, the Red Storm host SP/Freeport/Waynflete and Portland/Deering, then close at Portland/Deering.
“This is big for confidence,” said Matthews. “We need to win our upcoming games to get a good spot in the playoffs.”
“This gets us back on track and gives us momentum going into another big stretch,” said Brown. “It’s going to come down to who gets hot at the right time. I think it’s anyone’s game.”
Cheverus junior Colin Doherty protects the puck from a Scarborough skater.
Scarborough junior Nolan Matthews and Cheverus freshman Kevin Connolly battle for the puck.