Scarborough wins first Class A boys' hockey crown in double OT epic

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LEWISTON—The team that no one expected to be here wound up becoming a team for the ages.

After winning a game it seemingly took ages to complete.

Scarborough’s boys’ hockey squad, unheralded in the preseason and expected to be an also-ran, wound up winning the biggest prize of all Saturday evening at the Colisee.

The Class A championship.

For the first time.

The Red Storm and the storied program of St. Dominic Academy couldn’t decide matters through 45 minutes of regulation, eight minutes of overtime and nearly eight more minutes of double overtime.

And then, Sean McGovern skated into legend.

The teams traded first period goals, but neither lit the lamp again until 17.6 seconds remained in the second OT, when McGovern. a senior captain, completed a breakaway opportunity with a backhanded goal and Scarborough prevailed, 2-1.

The Red Storm, who had to navigate a perilous region just to get to the program’s first championship game in nearly two decades, also got a goal from sophomore Skylar Pettingill, 32 saves from superb senior goalie Ben Bragg and completed their season at 14-5-3 while sending the Saints home at 17-3-1 in the process.

“It’s a great feeling to know we did it,” McGovern said. “It’s amazing what we’ve been through all year. This is the moment we all worked for.”

Long wait ends

Scarborough went to back-to-back Class B state games in 1995 and 1996, beating Brewer 5-2 for the title that first year, then losing, 5-3, to Winslow in the latter season.

Prior to Saturday, the Red Storm hadn’t been back since.

After facing a good number of unknowns to start the season, Scarborough won just four of its first seven games, then closed on a 6-2-3 run to wind up fourth in the region.

The return of junior offensive sparkplug Matt Caron late in the season sparked the playoff run to come. The Red Storm had to go to overtime to survive fifth-ranked Biddeford in the quarterfinals, 3-2, then came from behind to deliver some payback to two-time defending state champion Falmouth in the semifinals, 5-4. Tuesday, in the Western A Final, Scarborough never trailed and finished off No. 2 Cheverus, 5-2.

“We got Matt back and that gave us confidence coming in,” McGovern said. “We knew we could win.”

“After the halfway point (of the season), we were right in the thick of things,” said legendary Red Storm coach Norm Gagne. “I told the kids we could beat anybody and we could get beaten by anybody. Getting Matt Caron back was the big thing. He gave Sean someone to play with. We were messing around with our lines trying to get scoring. With Matty back, that made the difference.”

St. Dom’s, meanwhile, was 15-2-1 in the regular season, then downed No. 5 Edward Little (4-0) and held off second-ranked Lewiston (5-3) to advance. The Saints had won 24 previous championships, but the last came in 2000. Just last season, St. Dom’s fell in overtime to Falmouth in the state final, 3-2, on Jake Grade’s goal.

The Red Storm lost, 2-1, at St. Dom’s back on Dec. 10.

Scarborough lost its two prior playoff meetings against the Saints: 8-1 in the 2005 semifinals and 7-4 in the 2009 quarterfinals.

This time around, in front of a boisterous full house, the Red Storm got the job done, but it took an awfully long time for resolution.

Early in the game, it appeared that offense might rule the day, as both squads had excellent chances, but in a sign of things to come, both goalies rose to the occasion.

In the first minute of play alone, Scarborough and St. Dom’s had multiple golden opportunities.

Just 10 seconds in, Caron got a look, but shot wide on the backhand.

Saints senior Caleb Labrie then raced in alone, but shot high.

Bragg showed he’d come to play by denying senior Dillon Pratt and robbing senior Brad Berube on the rebound and at the other end, a shot from Scarborough junior Jack Callahan was saved by St. Dom’s sophomore goalie Kyle Welsh.

The Saints kept the pressure on, as Bragg had to deny freshman Gavin Bates, senior Adam Poulin shot wide and consecutive bids from junior Austin Roy were saved by Bragg.

Three minutes in, the Red Storm earned the first power play opportunity, but a blast from senior captain Kevin Smith and a shot in close from Caron were smothered by Welsh.

Poulin then had a pair of short-handed scoring chances, but the first was saved by Bragg and the second was broken up by a defenseman.

Finally, with 8:10 to go in the first period, St. Dom’s broke through.

The goal came off a faceoff and came courtesy a highlight reel individual effort from Berube, who from his knees, managed to shoot the puck which short-hopped Bragg and bounced into the net for a 1-0 lead.

The Saints had the jump, but they wouldn’t tickle the twine again in the 53 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the epic.

Twenty-six seconds after the goal, Scarborough went back on the power play, but the only scoring chance came when Labrie broke in short-handed, only to have Bragg poke the puck away at the last second.

“I had to shake that (first goal) off,” Bragg said. “I couldn’t let it get in my head. I had to keep going and stay positive.”

With 5:03 left in the first period, St. Dom’s earned its first power play chance, but the Saints didn’t even muster a shot.

With momentum back on their side, the Red Storm got the equalizer.

With 1:55 to play in the first, Pettingill found himself in the right place at the right time and he pounced on a rebound, burying it past Welsh to make it 1-1. Caron and junior Cam Nigro were given assists.

“It was a rebound that popped out to me and I buried it,” Pettingill said. “It was a great feeling. That was a huge goal. That helped us come back.”

“That was a big relief,” Bragg said. “That’s what we needed to get right back in the game.”

“Skylar didn’t start, but his first shift, he went and scored a goal,” added Gagne.

In the final minute of the period, Caron had a chance to put Scarborough on top, but he shot wide on a breakaway and the teams went to the first intermission deadlocked, 1-1.

The Saints had a 12-6 shots advantage in the first period, but Bragg made 11 saves.

Scoring chances weren’t as numerous in the second period.

The first saw Callahan shoot wide.

Caron then blocked a shot at one end and had a shot at the other, but his bid went just high.

With 7:52 left in the second period, St. Dom’s mustered its first shot of the frame, as Bates was denied by Bragg. Poulin then set up Roy in front with a beautiful feed, but Bragg’s save was even prettier and the game stayed tied.

A Red Storm penalty resulted in only one Saints’ shot, a bid from Berube which Bragg saved.

Late in the period, Pettingill shot wide, Pettingill took a feed from sophomore Cam Smith and was denied by Welsh, Caron shot just wide after a turnover and after another Scarborough penalty, a late bid from Poulin was saved by Bragg and the score remained 1-1 through 30 minutes.

In the second period, shots were even, 7-7.

With the lack of offense, the third period felt like overtime, but neither team, despite some great chances, could break the tie.

The Red Storm had to kill off a minute of penalty time to start the third and did so without allowing a shot.

With 7:54 left, Scarborough had to kill another penalty.

Just 21 seconds later, Pratt’s pass was deflected to the near post and Bragg trapped the puck right at the goal line, but the officials went to video review (a new feature this winter) to make sure and upheld the no goal call.

Caron then had a short-handed bid, but shot wide.

After Bragg saved a shot from Labrie, McGovern had a shorthanded breakaway. He went to the backhand, but was denied by Welsh.

It wouldn’t be McGovern’s final opportunity, however.

With 4:24 remaining in regulation, Nigro had a good look in front, but a St. Dom’s defender tipped the shot over the glass.

At the other end, Berube redirected Pratt’s pass just wide and a bid from senior Mitchell Lorenz was blocked.

With 3:29 showing, Callahan was denied in front by Welsh.

With 2:25 left, the Saints took a cross-checking penalty and Scarborough had a great chance to win it, but Callahan had a shot blocked, Caron twice shot wide and Welsh made a highlight reel save after Caron set up Nigro for a great look.

With 41.1 seconds to go, the Red Storm took a penalty and neither team could do anything before the horn sounded ending regulation.

In Maine high school hockey, teams play as many eight-minute “sudden victory” overtimes as necessary until someone scores.

This one would take awhile.

St. Dom’s began OT on the power play and just 40 seconds in, Pratt tried a wrap-around shot, but Bragg stopped it.

After the penalty expired, Pratt tried a shot up top, but Bragg again made the save.

After a turnover, with 2:48 showing, a Pratt shot knuckleballed in on Bragg, but the goalie made the stop. The Saints kept the pressure on and Roy shot just wide.

Then, with 1:53 left in the first overtime, Scarborough went back on the power play, but Welsh denied Caron, then the goalie saved a shot from Callahan and it was on to the second extra session.

With the ice being resurfaced and each team getting a much needed break, the message in the Red Storm’s locker room was simple.

“Coach told us we had to keep battling and get the puck deep,” Pettingill said.

“When I got them in the locker room, I said we were the underdog and it was time to knock the door down,” Gagne said.

Scarborough would do that very thing, but not until the game was on the verge of going to a third OT.

Ninety seconds in, Callahan was robbed by Welsh. Junior Sean McDonald then tried to win it, but Welsh made another save.

At the other end, Poulin shot high and Roy did the same.

With 2:05 left, Berube rushed in and threatened to end it, but Red Storm sophomore defender Eric Murray broke it up.

Then, with under 30 seconds to go and the game on the brink of becoming the first Class A Final to go to a third overtime since Lewiston beat Cheverus, 2-1, in 2002, the ending came.

St. Dom’s won a faceoff in Scarborough’s zone and got a shot, but Callahan blocked it.

The puck then took a fortuitous bounce toward center ice and McGovern raced after it, beating a defender to the puck, then skating in on Welsh.

While McGovern was denied on a breakaway with a backhanded shot earlier, he stayed with the move and this time, with 17.6 seconds left in the second overtime, he finished.

“We had to keep working because we knew our opportunity would come and we had to bury it when it did,” McGovern said. “Fortunately, Jack blocked a shot and gave me a breakaway and I finished it. Earlier in the game, I pulled the same move and he saved it. I figured he didn’t think I’d try the same move and I buried it. It was awesome. It’s a great feeling.”

“Sean made them pay.” Gagne said.

At 8:19 p.m., after a 20-year wait, the Red Storm had a state championship, 2-1, over valiant St. Dom’s.

“We executed perfectly,” McGovern said. “We wanted this for Scarborough. There’s a reason we’re ‘Titletown.'”

“It feels awesome,” Pettingill said. “I can’t believe it. I was in shock when Sean scored. I fell off the bench. We put in a lot of hard work and battled a lot of adversity to get here and we did it.”

“We just battled and kept going and got the ‘W,'” said Bragg. “Sean and I have been on the team together for four years. I knew he was going to do it. That was a Hollywood finish. This feeling, there’s nothing better. We just progressed and battled adversity and did our job. I’ve been on a million hockey teams, but this team is just the best.”

“This goes right at the top of the list of championships,” added Gagne, who has seven of them at three different schools, winning three apiece at Gardiner and Waterville. “There were doubters because of St. Dom’s’ firepower, They have weapons, but my guys are fighters. I told the guys we went from zero to number one in one shot.  For us to pull this off was amazing. This is a first for them. This is what I came here to do. I get a charge out of seeing these kids perform the way they do. I give them the game plan and they go out and execute.”

In one of the keys to victory, Scarborough had to kill five penalties and did so.

“Overall, the penalty kill was fantastic,” Bragg said. “They did a great job. They did everything right. We were blocking shots and getting the puck deep. I was seeing every shot.”

St. Dom’s got 26 saves from Welsh, killed four penalties and finished with a 33-28 shots advantage, but Bragg was sensational, making 32 saves, many of them superb with the season on the line.

“There’s quite a bit of pressure, but I can’t think about it or it will get to me,” Bragg said.

Needless to say, Bragg’s effort was greatly appreciated and admired.

“We’re a young team, but our young guys and Ben stepped up today,” McGovern said. “I’m not surprised Ben played a great game. That’s the reason we’re a great team this year, because of him. We never would have gotten to this point without him.”

“It was a championship performance by Ben and it had to be,” Gagne said. “I told him we needed that from him tonight. I knew he’d keep us in the game.”

Some unheralded Red Storm players also contributed to the win.

“I’ve never had a young team like this, with so many young kids having to play big roles,” Gagne said. “(Sophomore) Justin (Perry) played unbelievable for us. Cam Smith, the little guy, and Eric Murray, they both rose to the occasion. We don’t get here without them. To shut down Berube and Labrie was big. They can play. They have so much speed.”

St. Dom’s was left distraught.

“They had this goal set and they really worked their butts off for 365 days, essentially, from when we left here a year ago,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “It makes it hurt that much more.

“At the end of the day we love these guys. They’re always going to be Saints and the black and white’s going to run through them. I just hope to see them down the road.”

Repeat quest

While Scarborough wasn’t expected to do much this year, next winter, the Red Storm will be favored to go back-to-back.

The program will first have to bid adieu to seniors Bragg, McGovern, Kia Dunn, Brian Garber, Braeden Kane, Sam Nygren and Kevin Smith.

“I’m so happy for the seniors,” Gagne said. “I look at Braeden Kane. He didn’t have a lot of ice time last year, but played a big role this year. Kevin Smith made the all-state team this year. Brian Garber was a wrestler last year. He got a couple shifts and he gets after it. Sam Nygren has one up on his brother, who played for us. You love having kids like that on your team.”

Plenty of firepower will return, however, so don’t be surprised if Scarborough manages to get back to this game and win it again.

“I think we’ll be good,” Pettingill said. “Losing Ben is a setback, but I think we can win without him and I think we’ll have a great year next year.”

Gagne plans to return and knows that a repeat title won’t come easily.

“I’ll be back,” Gagne said. “I’ve got eight more wins to become second in the nation and I’m only a few away from 700. That’s where I’d like to get.

“We won’t sneak up on anybody. We have to put in a lot of time in the weight room. We have to get bigger and stronger. We’ll have a target on our backs.”

Sun Journal staff writer Mike Kraft contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

Scarborough senior goalie Ben Bragg makes one of his 32 saves.

Photo courtesy Claudia Murray.

Scarborough junior Jack Callahan takes a faceoff.

Photos courtesy Claudia Murray.

Scarborough sophomore Cam Smith and St. Dom’s senior Matt Chasse battle for the puck.

Lauren Schneiderman / Sun Journal photo.

Scarborough senior Jack Callahan shoots the puck.

Lauren Schneiderman / Sun Journal photo.

St. Dom’s freshman Gavin Bates rides Scarborough senior Braeden Kane off the puck.

Lauren Schneiderman / Sun Journal photo.

St. Dom’s senior Matt Chasse knocks the puck away from Scarborough junior Matt Caron as Saints sophomore goalie Kyle Welsh looks on.

Lauren Schneiderman / Sun Journal photo.

Scarborough senior goalie Ben Bragg pounces on a loose puck late in the game.

Photo courtesy Claudia Murray.

Scarborough senior Sean McGovern races up the ice and into legend.

Lauren Schneiderman / Sun Journal photo.

St. Dom’s sophomore Kyle Welsh lies on the ice in dismay after Scarborough senior Sean McGovern’s overtime game-winner. Welsh had a terrific game with 26 saves.

Photo courtesy Claudia Murray.

At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Scarborough senior captain Sean McGovern stands alone as he celebrates and salutes his classmates in the cheering section following the winning goal.

Photo courtesy Claudia Murray.

Scarborough and St. Dom’s shake hands following the contest.

Lauren Schneiderman / Sun Journal photo

The newly minted 2014-15 Class A boys’ hockey champions show off their hardware.

Photo courtesy Claudia Murray.

Sidebar Elements


Scarborough’s boys’ hockey team celebrates its scintillating 2-1 overtime win over St. Dom’s in Saturday’s Class A state final. Senior Sean McGovern produced the winning goal.

Lauren Schneiderman / Sun Journal photo.

More photos below.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001.
Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net.
I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.