Greely begins title quest Saturday
By Keith B. Wehmeyer
FALMOUTH — Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” played through the arena speakers following Falmouth’s 10-0 Western Class A quarterfinal round victory over South Portland Monday.
An overplayed song, sure, but one that couldn’t have been more appropriate.
Sunday, coach Scott Rousseau and his wife Meredith delivered the newest member of the Falmouth hockey family, a healthy baby girl, Caroline.
Rousseau admitted the obvious following Falmouth’s win at Family Ice Center: The impending birth of his second child has been a distraction, albeit a most welcome one.
Over the past few weeks, the Falmouth hockey community had done its part to alleviate the stress on its coach, from parents helping by babysitting the Rousseaus’ son, to assistants delivering Monday’s pregame speech, a speech that must have been pretty darn good given the result.
Dan Hanley opened the scoring less than two minutes into the contest and the third-ranked Yachtsmen never looked back, scoring four goals in the opening period including a hat trick for Hanley, who scored three of his team-high four goals in the first 15 minutes.
Hanley added two assists in the game, while his linemate and fellow senior Mike Chase tallied two goals to go along with four assists.
“At this point in the year, your best players have to be just that,” Rousseau said. “Usually, when a team’s best players are playing that role, they are going to win. For us to be successful, Dan and Mike have to play well. So far this year, they haven’t disappointed very often.”
Chase scored the highlight-reel goal of game in the third period, faking a slapshot before tipping the puck through a defender’s legs and taking it to the goal and scoring top shelf.
Falmouth scored on its first four power-play opportunities and finished 4-for-7 with a man advantage.
Emmett Brennan, Gabe Hoffman-Johnson, Dixon Pike and Julien Clement scored a goal apiece for the Yachtsmen. Sophomore goalie Jay Hurdman made 11 saves to record the shutout.
In each of the past four seasons, Falmouth has drawn difficult opponents to start the playoffs, including St. Dom’s on two occasions. Monday, Falmouth was happy to get its opening-round playoff victory out of the way, and comfortably.
“We have a lot of young players,” Rousseau said. “In the first period, a few young guys were a little nervous with the puck. The playoffs are different. We got that out of the way a little bit. It’s important for the younger guys to get some confidence tonight. It was nice to warm into the playoffs, if you will.”
Falmouth was expected to meet No. 3 Thornton Academy in a battle of Rousseau brothers in the semifinals, but the Golden Trojans were upset by No. 11 Kennebunk in four overtimes in the quarterfinals. That means the Yachtsmen will face the Rams at the Colisee in Lewiston Saturday night.
Falmouth won 3-0 at Kennebunk Jan. 14 and handled the Rams 4-1 at home Feb. 7. The Yachtsmen can earn a dose of revenge. Last year, in the semifinals, Kennebunk beat the Yachtsmen 2-1 in double-OT.
Looking ahead, the regional final is Tuesday in Lewiston. If Falmouth beats Kennebunk to reach the Western A Final for the first time, the Yachtsmen would play either No. 4 St. Dom’s or No. 8 Biddeford, the two-time defending state champion. The Class A state game is Saturday, March 7 at 6 p.m., at the Colisee.
In Western B, top-seed Greely’s quest for a first-ever state championship begins Saturday in the semifinal round with a game against No. 4 York (5-11-2) at the Portland Ice Arena. Gametime wasn’t announced by press time.
The Rangers went 17-1 this year, the best mark in program history. Two wins came against the Wildcats: 7-1 on the road Dec. 22 and 5-3 at home Jan. 12. The teams have a storied playoff history, meeting six times in the past eight years.
York won in double-overtime in the 2001 and 2003 quarterfinals and edged the Rangers last year in the regional final.
Greely was a one-goal winner in the 2004 quarterfinals, the 2005 semifinals (in overtime) and the 2007 regional final.
A win likely spells another date with rival Cape Elizabeth in the regional final Wednesday at 7 p.m., at the Colisee. The Rangers beat the Capers 5-4 in overtime Jan. 5 and 5-1 at home Feb. 7. The teams’ last playoff meeting was last winter, a 6-1 Greely romp in the semifinals.
The Class B state final is Saturday, March 7 at 1 p.m., at the Colisee.