(Ed. Note: For the complete Scarborough-Falmouth game story, with additional photos, please visit theforecaster.net)
The end came suddenly and painfully for local boys’ hockey teams in recent days.
The word agony can best describe what happened to the top-ranked Scarborough Red Storm, which won its final 16 regular season games and handled ninth-ranked Noble (9-1) and No. 4 Cheverus (4-2, behind goals from Nick Bagley, Cam Brochu, Jake Gross and Jack Rousselle) to reach Tuesday’s Western A Final versus No. 2 Falmouth, a team Scarborough beat twice in the regular season (4-3, in overtime, at home and 2-1 on the road).
The old adage says it’s hard to beat a good team three times and unfortunately for the Red Storm, it discovered that to be true at the Colisee in Lewiston.
Scarborough fell behind, 1-0, early, but tied the game shorthanded on a spectacular goal.
Red Storm senior Trevor Murray won the puck and broke free across the red line, playing the puck ahead in the process. Falmouth goalie Dane Pauls reacted and came way out of the net in an attempt to break up the play. Pauls denied Murray a shot, but the puck came to Gross and with Pauls well out of position, Gross fired a shot into the net to tie the game, 1-1.
After the Yachtsmen grabbed a 2-1 lead early in the second period, Scarborough appeared to take control, getting two tallies to go up, 3-2.
First, after a Yachtsmen turnover, sophomore Matt Henderson fired the puck to junior Cam Loiselle, who beat Pauls to make it 2-2.
After a Falmouth penalty, Scarborough was able to take advantage on the power play and went ahead for the first time as senior captain Ryan Bailer set up Bagley for the go-ahead tally and a 3-2 lead. Junior Garrett McDonald was also credited with an assist.
With senior goalie Dalton Finley playing well (19 saves in the first two periods), the Red Storm could taste its first ever Western A title and first in any class since reaching the Class B state game in 1996, but with under four minutes to go in regulation, disaster struck.
With 3:26 left, Falmouth’s Isac Nordstrom pounced on a loose puck in a scrum in front and buried it to tie the game.
McDonald was whistled for a penalty on the play, putting the Yachtsmen, now riding a wave of momentum, on the power play, and just 17 seconds later, Hugh Grygiel beat Finley to the blocker side and in a lightning quick span, Scarborough’s 3-2 lead had turned into a 4-3 deficit.
The Red Storm had a great chance to tie it with 23.2 seconds to go, but Murray’s low whistler was kicked away by Pauls and Falmouth ran out the clock from there, ending Scarborough’s best season in 18 years at 19-2 with a 4-3 decision, advancing to meet Lewiston in Saturday’s state final.
“It’s a devastating end,” said legendary Red Storm coach Norm Gagne. “The bounces don’t always go your way. It’s a hard lesson for young men to learn, but it’s part of the game.
“(Falmouth) did a good job defensively on us. We took advantage in certain situations. We were able to get the lead and keep it for a good part of the game. We had a chance to tie it up, but (Pauls) came up big. We knew we’d be in for a battle. They got the bounce tonight. You have to stay disciplined and we lost our composure at the end and that cost us the game. When you get in that position and you’re ahead by one, you want to race to the end and get running around and lose thoughts of where you’re supposed to be. The key with a team like this is you have to play good defensive zone coverage. Credit to them. They took advantage. They could sense we were running around and got a good shot. They had the composure at the end to do that.”
Scarborough (which was outshot, 32-18, but got 28 saves from Finley), loses seven seniors, but will be a factor again next season when, like Falmouth, it hopes to finally break through.
“I had a good group of seniors who I think established what I think we need to do from here on,” Gagne said. “They set a good example.”
Cape Elizabeth’s ouster wasn’t nearly as gutwrenching. After a 7-10-1 record gave the Capers the fifth and final Western B playoff spot, they outlasted No. 4 Yarmouth, 4-3, to reach last Friday night’s semifinals, versus defending state champion Greely, at the Colisee.
Cape Elizabeth had almost upset the Rangers in the second of two regular season meetings, falling by a goal, but was down, 2-0, after one period in the semifinal. Brandon Negele gave the Capers some hope with a goal early in the second, but Greely answered with a pair to go up, 4-1. The Rangers stretched to 5-1 before Eli Breed scored for Cape Elizabeth, but that would be the last goal of the season for the Capers and Greely added two more to win, 7-2, ending Cape Elizabeth’s season at 8-11-1.
Scarborough senior goalie Dalton Finley blocks the goal during the Red Storm’s Western Class A Final versus Falmouth Tuesday night. Scarborough’s season came to an agonizing end with a 4-3 defeat.