SACO—For the better part of a year, the Scarborough girls’ hockey team was haunted by the vision of the Greely Rangers dancing on the Colisee ice, celebrating an overtime victory in the state championship game, while the Red Storm could only look on disconsolately.
Wednesday evening at MHG Arena, revenge was served.
And was it ever delicious.
Scarborough, clearly the team to beat this winter, scored one goal in each period and rode a strong defensive effort to a 3-0 victory.
Freshman sensation Sami Shoebottom continued to add to her burgeoning legend by scoring the first two goals and an unexpected source, senior Riley McKeown, produced the third as the Red Storm improved to a perfect 13-0 this winter and dropped the Rangers to 8-3 in the process.
“We’ve been pumped for this all day,” McKeown said. “It means so much to show them that we’re not stuck on states, that we’re moving forward. It shows a lot about us. It feels awesome. It was definitely worth the wait.”
Heading into Wednesday’s game, since the Maine Principals’ Association began sanctioning girls’ hockey, the Rangers and Red Storm had met five times. Each won on two occasions and the other resulted in a tie (please see sidebar, below).
Last year’s regular season result ended in a 2-2 tie at Scarborough and of course the state game needed more than 45 minutes to resolve, before Mary Morrison scored 3:44 into OT for a 1-0 victory, allowing Greely to win its second successive championship.
Both teams entered 2013-14 hopeful, but only one remained starved for a championship.
The Rangers have proved mortal. After holding on for a 2-1 win at Leavitt/Edward Little in the opener and handling visiting Brunswick (8-0) and host Biddeford (6-1), Greely was upset at home by Yarmouth/Freeport, 3-2. Wins at York (4-1), at home over Winslow (7-1) and at home over Falmouth in the Dudley Cup (2-1, in overtime) followed before the Rangers lost at Lewiston (6-1). The Rangers got back on track by downing visiting York (5-2) and host Mt. Ararat (9-0).
The Red Storm, meanwhile, views itself as the team to beat and has certainly played as such.
Scarborough opened by winning at York, 6-0. It then handled visiting Leavitt/EL (2-1), Falmouth (4-1), Capeflete (6-0), Cheverus (11-1), York (9-0) and Biddeford (8-1), then won at Portland/Deering (11-3), handled visiting Lewiston, 3-0, and won at Biddeford, 5-0. Last Wednesday, the Red Storm was down, 2-0, against host Capeflete midway through the game, but scored five unanswered goals to prevail, 5-2. An 8-0 home win over Gorham/Bonny Eagle Monday followed.
Wednesday was Senior Night, as it was the final regular season home game for Scarborough’s McKeown, defender Brenna Kent, forwards Meg Martin and Rachael Wallace and goalie Devan Kane.
Between that and the team on the other awaiting it on the opposite side of the ice, the Red Storm was more than amped by the time the puck dropped at 8:45 p.m.
It would be Greely which controlled play early, however, but the Rangers weren’t able to get a great look or beat Kane and soon, Scarborough began to carry play.
Greely freshman goalie Nica Todd impressed from start to finish and helped keep the game scoreless deep into the first period.
Todd denied Red Storm freshman Elizabeth Gross on a couple of occasions and forced junior Kristen Murray to whiff on a one-on-one.
Finally, with 4:33 to play in the first period, Shoebottom would produce the only goal her team would need when she tipped home a shot from Gross (freshman Cara Reynolds was also given an assist) and it was 1-0 Scarborough.
“I got a piece of it and it went through (the goalie’s) legs,” said Shoebottom. “It trickled in. We had a lot of spirit at school today. We got a lot of fans to come out. That got us going. Senior Night kind of got us going and Greely got us going and we kind of got too excited. We had to calm it down.”
“The good thing about Sami is that she’s really humble,” Scarborough coach Caitlin Cashman said. “She doesn’t know her stats. She just wants to play and she wants to win. She wants to win states this year. She’s a good little hockey player.”
Just like that, the Red Storm had managed to do something it couldn’t do in last year’s state final.
Gross almost made it 2-0 seconds later, but Todd stood tall and made the save.
Late in the period, junior Alyssa Hulst, Shoebottom, Shoebottom again and finally Hulst again all were turned aside by Todd and Scarborough only had a 1-0 lead heading for the second period.
Greely sophomore standout Danita Storey then had a good chance early in the second, but Kane made the save to protect the lead.
“(Storey) was one of the focal points,” said McKeown. “We know she’s a strong player. We had to shut her down and keep her away from Devan.”
“(Storey’s) got wheels and we knew she’d move the puck really well, so we told our defensemen to keep her wide and to poke check,” Cashman said. “Our defensemen were able to do that.”
Todd then returned to centerstage, robbing Shoebottom after a turnover, Gross after a shot through a screen, Hulst on a breakaway and Hulst again.
“(Nica) had 10 really unbelievable saves tonight,” said Rangers coach Nate Guerin. “We thought she’d come right in and do that. She’s come a long way.”
The Red Storm certainly was impressed.
“I thought their goalie was awesome,” said Cashman. “She rocked it.”
Eventually, however, the hosts broke through again.
With 6:24 left in the second period, Kent passed ahead to Hulst, who found Shoebottom in transition and Shoebottom finished for a 2-0 lead.
“It was a nice pass,” said Shoebottom. “We had nice communication there.”
“One of the things we’ve practiced the most is our breakouts,” Cashman said. “It’s about gaining control and getting it over the blue line. Today was our best breakout. Alyssa was a playmaker today, moving the puck really well. That was nice to see.”
Greely went on the attack after the goal, but Kane saved a backhanded bid by Storey and after the Rangers went on the power play, senior Sarah Kurland just missed a good look, a Storey rush was broken up by Shoebottom and twice Kane denied shots from freshman Ellie Schad to preserve the 2-0 advantage heading for the final stanza.
There, Scarborough would put it away, but not before Greely carried play early.
A little over a minute into the third, Storey had a shot which Kane denied. Kurland then was stymied as well.
“Down 2-0, one bounce and it’s a one-goal game, so we were still confident,” Guerin said. “We had time to work with. We had chances. We were a couple bounces and maybe a healthy body or two away.”
With 8:08 to play, the Red Storm iced it, courtesy McKeown, who took a pass from Hulst, shot from just inside the blue line and watched as the puck floated through several players before eluding Todd to make it 3-0 and essentially ice the victory.
” I just got the shot,” said McKeown. “I saw an open net and just let it go. It felt great.”
“(Riley’s) a really big team leader,” said Shoebottom. “Goal scoring isn’t her thing, but it was a good feeling for everyone to see that happen.”
The Red Storm held the Rangers in check from there and went on to the 3-0 victory, unleashing a long pent up celebration at the final horn.
“As freshmen, we didn’t feel the actual pain, but coming on to the team, you understand it,” said Shoebottom. “This is a really big step in our season.”
“It feels good, especially for the seniors,” said Cashman. “They’ve had a lot of heartbreak. This is a confidence booster. We talked a little about last year, but we have such a young team that we want things to be different. If you want things to be different, you can’t base things on the past.”
Shoebottom had two goals, while Gross and Reynolds both had an assist, as Scarborough’s freshmen continue to dazzle.
“With talent comes cockiness, but not with these freshman,” McKeown said. “They’re straight talent, they’re team players and it shows on and off the ice. We’re really happy to have them.”
“We’re lucky to have such skilled freshmen,” Cashman said.
Shoebottom said she and her classmates are keeping things in perspective.
“We’re 20 players,” she said. “We might be the top (line), but we can get taken out at any time. You never know. You have to just play your game. “
As for Greely, it wasn’t overly disappointed with the loss.
“Off the bat, we looked good,” said Guerin. “I thought we played hard all game. I was pleased with what I saw, but rolling two lines, the conditioning’s just not there. The girls worked hard, but Scarborough’s excellent. Very skilled. Deep. They have a lot of players who are dangerous. More than we do. It’s just a matter of trying to win little battles. That was our focus tonight, winning shifts, and I thought the girls did a good job of that.”
Guerin will hear plenty about the loss in the days to come as he is a chemistry teacher at Scarborough High School.
“I heard about it all day today and I’m sure I’ll hear more tomorrow,” Guerin said.
For the first time, the teams will play twice in the regular season, squaring off again Jan. 29 in Falmouth, but both have plenty of work to do first.
Greely is back in action with another tough test Saturday, at Yarmouth/Freeport, as it seeks to avenge a loss. After hosting Leavitt/EL and Mt. Ararat, the Rangers welcome Scarborough, then close with games at Winslow and at home versus Lewiston.
“It’s a mad dash to the finish,” Guerin said. “It’s a busy schedule from here on out.”
As for the Red Storm, its challenging stretch continues Saturday at sizzling Falmouth and Monday, it goes to Lewiston, the top team in the East Region. After playing at Cheverus, Scarborough closes at Greely. The Red Storm has to make a game at Leavitt/EL as well (likely Jan. 28).
“We still have to play our game and hopefully it will work out,” Shoebottom said.
“This is great, but we have to keep moving forward and work hard in practice,” McKeown said. “States is in our reach if we keep working for it.”
“We have a lot of big games to come, especially Lewiston around the corner,” Cashman added. “We’re not in the clear yet, that’s for sure.”
Greely senior Delaney Curtin looks for an open teammate.
Dynamic Scarborough freshman Elizabeth Gross skates past a Greely defender.
Scarborough senior goalie Devan Kane watches the puck as Greely sophomore Danita Storey’s shot is deflected high above the ice.
Greely freshman goalie Nica Todd can only look on helplessly as a shot from Scarborough senior Riley McKeown gets past her for the game’s third goal.
Greely sophomore Danita Storey races up the ice.
Greely freshman Nica Todd prepares to stymie a rush from Scarborough junior Kristen Murray.
@ Greely 3 Scarborough 0
@ Scarborough 1 Greely 0
Scarborough 4 @ Greely 2
Scarborough freshman Sam Shoebottom (red helmet) is congratulated by a teammate after her first period goal sent the Red Storm on its way to a 3-0 win over Greely Tuesday night in a rematch of last year’s state championship game.
Joe Carpine photos / 365digitalphotography.com
More photos below.