YARMOUTH—For a month, the Yarmouth boys’ hockey team could do no wrong during an inspirational unbeaten streak, but Wednesday evening, the Clippers learned the hard way that you can’t afford to dig a hole or surrender a goal in the waning seconds of a period.
Hosting Edward Little in an interclass showdown of teams on the rise, Yarmouth trailed 1-0 as the first period wound down and appeared in good position to lick its wounds and respond, but with just 10.8 seconds to go, the Red Eddies struck again and the Clippers found themselves in deep trouble.
Yarmouth was able to cut the deficit in half when sophomore Patrick Grant scored on the power play in the second period, but Edward Little answered with two more goals to put the Clippers on the ropes. To its credit, Yarmouth didn’t buckle and power play tallies from sophomore Walter Conrad and senior captain Max Watson got it right back in the game with plenty of time to go.
In the third period, however, the Red Eddies again extended the lead and senior captain Isaak Dearden’s power play goal with 5:39 remaining wasn’t enough and the Clippers went down to a 5-4 defeat.
Yarmouth fell to 3-2-1 on the season, while Edward Little improved to 4-3.
“We dug ourselves a pretty big hole and made some critical defensive mistakes,” lamented Clippers coach David St. Pierre. “I’m proud of the guys for battling back and working hard, but bottom line, you can’t stake a team to a three-goal lead.”
From 1987 through 2002, Yarmouth ascended to the top of Class B on seven occasions (after winning the now defunct Class C in 1985) and lost in the state game on seven other occasions.
Over the past decade, however, the Clippers have been on the fringe, occasionally making the playoffs, but only once reaching the regional final (a loss to York in 2010). Last year, Yarmouth went 6-11-2, losing to Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals.
This winter, the Clippers appear primed to return to their once familiar perch near the top of the standings. Yarmouth opened with a 5-3 loss at Gorham, then got a huge confidence boost by tying visiting Brunswick in the waning seconds before beating the Dragons in overtime, 5-4. After a 4-0 home win over Gardiner and a 1-1 tie at Kennebunk, the Clippers opened the 2014 portion of the schedule with a 9-3 romp over host York Saturday.
Edward Little dropped its first three games: 2-1 to visiting Brunswick, 7-1 to visiting Bangor and 6-2 at Lewiston, before bouncing back to defeat visiting Mt. Ararat/Lisbon (4-1), host Noble (2-1) and host Lake Region (5-0).
Last year, the teams tied, 1-1, in Auburn.
Wednesday, Yarmouth had its moments, but would ultimately be left frustrated.
Clippers freshman Bill Jacobs had the first great scoring chance, but Edward Little goalie Devin Dumont (24 saves) made the stop, then denied a rebound bid from sophomore Noah Grondin.
The visitors opened the scoring exactly midway through the first, as senior Sedrick Simonds beat Yarmouth junior goalie Nick Allen (18 saves) on a wraparound. Sophomore Matt Verrill was given the assist.
Allen kept the score 1-0 with a couple nice saves, but with 10.8 seconds to go, Red Eddies junior Branden Dyer sent the puck on net from the far boards and it somehow found its way into the goal for a 2-0 advantage. Freshman Cody Woodward and senior Colin Benson got assists.
The Clippers came out with far more intensity in the second period and got back in the game.
After Grant was denied by Dumont and freshman sensation Bobby Murray’s rebound was also turned aside, Dearden had a shot saved, Murray shot high and Murray was denied by Dumont.
Finally, with 8:52 left in the second, Yarmouth broke through on the power play, as Grant beat Dumont (Murray and Watson were credited with assists).
The Clippers looked to tie, but a shot in front from senior captain David Clemmer was saved.
Edward Little then struck twice in 31 seconds to change the complexion of the contest.
With 5:05 left in the second period, Benson scored with Woodward getting the assist. Simons followed with his second goal with 4:34 remaining (from sophomore Mathew Grenier on the power play) and just like that, Yarmouth was down, 4-1.
The Clippers were staggered, but they didn’t surrender.
With 2:17 left in the frame, Yarmouth went on the power play and six seconds later, a second Red Eddie went to the penalty box and the Clippers took advantage.
Playing two-men up, Watson set up Conrad for a goal with 2:01 showing (Grant also got an assist). Then, still playing a man-up, Watson scored with 1:04 to go (Conrad had the assist) and Yarmouth was back within one, 4-3.
The Clippers hoped to complete their comeback in the third period, but it wasn’t to be.
After Watson almost tied the game (Dumont fell on a loose puck in front), Conrad hit the post with 11:13 remaining.
Edward Little then went on the power play and with 8:02 left, junior Cade Chapman took a pass from Dyer and beat Allen from a tough angle for a little breathing room.
That only lasted until 5:39 was left, as a Dearden power play tally (assisted by Grant and Murray) pulled Yarmouth within a goal for the third time, 5-4.
Down the stretch, the Clippers pushed hard for the equalizer, but a shot by Clemmer was blocked and after Allen was pulled in the waning seconds, Watson had a shot blocked and Conrad shot wide and that was that.
Edward Little 5 Yarmouth 4.
“(The Red Eddies) played the system they needed to play, dump the puck, go hard and take advantage of their opportunities when they got them,” St. Pierre said. “Give EL credit. They dug deep and played with passion. They wanted the win badly. We’re disappointed, but I thought the kids showed character battling back. We have a very good locker room this year. We have kids who know how to compete and know how to battle and they proved that. They also learned they can’t get in that kind of a hole. We’re young and that’s bitten us a few times, but we have great senior leadership in Max Watson, David Clemmer and Isaak Dearden.”
While Edward Little (third in the Eastern Class A Heal Points standings) is back in action Saturday at home versus Westbrook, Yarmouth (now fourth in Western B) will face another tough test Saturday night when it hosts two-time defending Class B champion Greely.
“We could have competed better (tonight), but we have to pick up the pieces,” St. Pierre said. “We have a big game coming up. We won’t have any problem with motivation for that one.”
A trip to top Western A contender Cheverus looms next Thursday. The Clippers will also be tested by visiting defending Class A champion Falmouth, Gorham and York and by trips to Greely and Camden Hills.
“We’re building,” St. Pierre said. “It’s still fairly early. I’m pleased with the progress so far, but we still have a lot to learn. I feel like we’re a top team, but there are four or five teams in that mix. If we can learn from our liabilities, we’ll be there in the end.”
Yarmouth senior captain David Clemmer takes a faceoff.
Yarmouth junior goalie Nick Allen falls on a loose puck.
Yarmouth sophomore Patrick Grant controls the puck. Grant had a goal in the loss.
Yarmouth freshman Bill Jacobs finds some operating room.
Yarmouth junior Sam Rouda stands up an Edward Little defender.
Yarmouth celebrates one of its four goals Wednesday, but the Clippers needed one more as they fell just short.
Yarmouth senior captain Max Watson plays the puck up the ice during the Clippers’ 5-4 home loss to Edward Little Wednesday night.
MIke Strout photos.
More photos below.