Yarmouth boys ride strong third period to semifinals

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Yarmouth senior Dom Morrill, at the bottom of the pile, is mobbed by sophomore Spencer King (5), senior Cooper May (19) and senior John Decker after scoring at the horn at the end of the first period in the Clippers’ 5-1 win over Gorham in Tuesday’s Class B South quarterfinal.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s boys’ hockey team has struggled to find consistency all winter, but with its season on the line in Tuesday’s Class B South quarterfinal against Gorham at Travis Roy Arena, the Clippers came up with some of their biggest plays of the year when they needed them most.

Fourth-ranked Yarmouth went on top to stay as time expired in the first period, as senior Cooper May fed Dom Morrill off a faceoff for a 1-0 lead.

Midway through the second period, May earned a penalty shot and finished to double the advantage, but the fifth-seeded Rams, who lost a pair of one-goal decisions to the Clippers during the regular season, cut the deficit in half on a goal from junior Trevor Gray, making it a 2-1 game heading for the third period.

There, after Yarmouth senior goalie Dan Latham made a few key early saves, the Clippers blew it open, as May set up senior John Decker at 4:21, May fed Morrill for his second goal at 8:14 and junior Kurt Heywood added one more goal at 9:29 and Yarmouth went on to a 5-1 victory.

The Clippers got two goals from Morrill, a goal and three assists from May and 19 saves from Latham as they improved to 11-6-2, ended Gorham’s season at 9-10 and advanced to take on top-ranked Greely (15-2-1) in the Class B South semifinals Friday evening at the Colisee in Lewiston.

“We have a strong senior group,” said May. “A lot of guys who have brought a lot of wins to this program and we didn’t want this to be our last game.” 

Anything is possible

Two years removed from its gutwrenching overtime loss in the state final, Yarmouth remains in contention in Class B South. While the Clippers had their struggles against the state’s elite teams this winter, they still managed to go 10-6-2 and earn the No. 4 seed in the region. 

Gorham lost its first four games and went just 2-7 in the first half of the season, but the Rams closed by winning seven of nine (losing only to York and Cape Elizabeth) to finish .500 and wind up fifth in Class B South.

The teams played a pair of one-goal games this season, as Yarmouth rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory Dec. 16 in Gorham (May tied the game late in regulation, then won it in OT) and held on for a 1-0 home win Jan. 15 (May had the lone goal and Latham made 23 saves for the shutout).

The Clippers and Rams had met just once previously in the playoffs, with Gorham springing a 3-2 overtime upset in the 2015 Western B semifinals.

This time around, Yarmouth pulled away to advance.

There wasn’t much in the way of good scoring chances until the very, very end of the first period.

While Yarmouth enjoyed a 10-2 edge in shots, it failed to score on a pair of power plays and after Gorham senior goalie Garett Babineau twice robbed sophomore William Giese, including with 1.7 seconds to go, the game appeared destined to go to the first intermission scoreless.

It didn’t.

May won the ensuing faceoff to Morrill, who managed to get the puck past Babineau just before the horn sounded and at the 15-minute mark, the Clippers had a 1-0 lead.

“It was an awesome faceoff win by Coop and I just shot it,” said Morrill. “We work on that every morning (in practice). When I saw it hit the net, I heard the buzzer. It was awesome. It got us fired up.”

“Anytime you score in the last few seconds of the period, it’s a big lift,” said Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre. “Dom did a nice job just snapping it off right away.” 

The second period brought more action, but no more clarity.

Yarmouth earned another power play and this time, generated some great chances, but twice, Morrill was denied by Babineau.

At 6:05 of the second, Gorham went on the power play for the first time and both teams would score.

First, the Clippers were the beneficiaries of a great effort from May, who raced in on Babineau before being taken down at 6:53. 

A penalty shot was awarded and May capitalized, drawing Babineau out of the cage, before rifling a shot past the goalie into the net for a 2-0 lead.

“I was looking for the penalty shot as soon as I was brought down,” May said. “I was definitely thinking about it, but I knew what I was going to do and I executed it well.” 

“Cooper is a big player for us and he did what a captain has to do,” St. Pierre said.

The Rams would answer, however, and regain some momentum.With 7:21 left in the period, still on the power play, senior captain Lucas Roop got the puck to Gray, who managed to rip it just past Latham’s right pad, just inside the far post, to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Late in the period, Heywood had a chance to put the Clippers back up by two, but he missed wide on a breakaway, and the game went to the second intermission with Yarmouth clinging to a one-goal lead.

In the third, the Clippers ended all doubt and put the win away.

First, Latham preserved the lead by denying junior Nick Gray.

With 10:33 to play, Yarmouth got some breathing room, as senior Joe Truesdale got the puck to May, who set up Decker for a 3-1 lead.

Latham then stopped shots from junior Alex O’Connor and sophomore Peter Richards.

With 6:46 remaining, May and Morrill connected again, as Morrill’s second goal made it 4-1.

Then, with 5:31 on the clock, sophomore Aidan Miller set up Heywood for the clincher and the Clippers went on to a 5-1 victory.

“It was certainly the guys you’d expect who finished, but the goals we scored that were the biggest ones were because of the guys behind the play that no one noticed,” said St. Pierre. “Joe Truesdale made a great play along the wall to spring a two-on-one. Aidan Miller made a good play to spring Heywood for his goal. They were unsung heroes. We’ve preached that it’s the small stuff that makes the goal happen. I thought our second line (Heywood, Truesdale and junior Michael Guertier) performed great from start to finish. They set the tone. 

“(Gorham) played us tough both games we played them this year. They were one-goal games. They’re a strong team, they’re physical, they won’t quit. Fortunately for us, we had a strong third period and finished the game.” 

Yarmouth finished with a 27-20 shots advantage. The Clippers went 0-for-4 on the power play, but got 19 saves from Latham, who was only beaten once.

“I have tons of confidence in Danny,” Morrill said. “There aren’t many ways you can beat him.”

Gorham was 1-for-3 on the power play and got 22 saves from Babineau, but it wasn’t enough.

“They’ve got good offensive players and whenever we play Yarmouth, Latham always does his job,” said Rams coach Jon Portwine. “I don’t know what it is, but he has our number. The guys worked hard, but we just ran into a good Yarmouth team. We knew it would be a battle and it was.”

On to Lewiston

Yarmouth didn’t fare well against the powerhouse Rangers this year, falling, 5-1, in Cumberland Jan. 23, then dropping a 4-1 home decision in the penultimate game of the regular season, Feb. 19.

The rivals have met 10 previous times in the postseason, dating to 1987, with Yarmouth winning six, including the most recent encounter, a 4-2 victory in the 2015 Western B quarterfinals.

The Clippers will be underdogs Friday, but can’t be overlooked.

“(Greely’s) a great team,” May said. “They’re well coached and disciplined. They have good players. We have to go up there, play defensive hockey, play confident. We have to have a near-perfect game, but I really like what we’ve been doing.”

“(Getting to) Lewiston is always our goal,” Morrill said. “I think we deserve it. We have to put together a solid 45 minutes. If we can come out and score the first goal, we have a good chance.”

“We still have a lot of work to do,” St. Pierre added. “We’re playing better now. We had a really good week of practice. The boys are feeling good about themselves.

“Greely is a very talented team. They have a lot of offense. They’ve beaten us convincingly twice. We have our hands full. We’ll go up there with a good game plan and we’ll try to execute the best that we can.”

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

Yarmouth senior goalie Dan Latham makes one his 19 saves.

Yarmouth senior Cooper May races up the ice as Gorham senior Ben Eichner tries to keep up. 

Yarmouth sophomore Spencer King battles Gorham sophomore Cole Perreault for the puck.

Yarmouth junior Kurt Heywood prepares to shoot. Heywood scored the final goal of the game.

Yarmouth senior Dom Morrill tries to beat Gorham senior goalie Garett Babineau. Morrill scored twice.

Yarmouth senior Joe Truesdale handles the puck.

Yarmouth junior Kurt Heywood has a shot blocked by Gorham senior Jack Richards.

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