Yarmouth celebrates one of its seven goals during Monday’s 7-1 win at Cape Elizabeth.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—It’s going to be a happy holiday season indeed for the Yarmouth boys’ hockey team.
One year after starting 0-5, the Clippers closed the 2015 portion of their schedule by reversing that mark to a perfect 5-0, thanks to a very impressive showing Monday afternoon at rival Cape Elizabeth.
Yarmouth fell behind just 3 minutes, 42 seconds in when Capers senior Tim Corsello got his team on the board, but exactly five minutes later, junior Tyler Veilleux scored on a rebound to pull the Clippers even.
After Yarmouth killed a 5-on-3 situation late in the first period, it came out clicking on all cylinders early in the second, as goals from Veilleux (30 seconds in) and senior captain Walter Conrad (1:23 in) put the Clippers up by two.
Yarmouth then managed to kill another 5-on-3 and took a two-goal lead to the third period, where it ended all doubt.
After senior captain Patrick Grant set up junior Anders Newberg to make it 4-1, the Clippers’ fifth goal had to be seen to be believed, as junior Bill Jacobs sent the puck in from center ice and it somehow wound up in the net for a 5-1 advantage. Two late goals from Grant, one shorthanded into an empty net and the other on a rebound, brought the curtain down on a decisive 7-1 triumph.
Yarmouth made it five wins in a row, beat Cape Elizabeth for the first time in three seasons and dropped the Capers to 2-2-1 in the process.
“I told the boys, ‘Thanks for the Christmas present and I’m proud of your effort and the room we have,'” said Clippers coach Dave St. Pierre. “I have great kids. I couldn’t ask for anything more. We set a goal to be 5-0. The guys wanted to come out of the gate stronger than last year.”
Yarmouth lost to Gorham in last year’s regional semifinals and had high hopes entering the new season, but few expected the Clippers to win their first four games against a tough schedule. After opening with home victories over Gardiner (2-0) and Gorham (4-1), the Clippers won at Kennebunk, 5-1 and Cheverus, 4-3.
Cape Elizabeth was also a semifinalist last winter, losing to Kennebunk. The Capers opened with home victories over Maranacook (11-0) and Leavitt (3-1), then tied host Kennebunk, 2-2, and lost at Edward Little, 3-2.
Last year, Cape Elizabeth won at Yarmouth, 2-0, in the teams’ lone meeting.
Monday, the Capers hoped to beat the Clippers for the fourth straight meeting, but instead, Yarmouth downed Cape Elizabeth for the first time since Jan. 8, 2013.
After Capers sophomore goalie Peter Haber denied Clippers sophomore Joe Truesdale and Conrad, the hosts got the jump with 11:18 to go in the opening period, as Yarmouth failed to clear the puck and Corsello pounced on it and sent it past Yarmouth sophomore goalie Dan Latham for a 1-0 lead.
After Haber stopped a wrister from Clippers sophomore Dom Morrill and denied bids from Grant and senior captain Noah Grondin, Veilleux rebounded the puck into the goal to tie it, 1-1, with 6:18 to play in the first.
Late in the period, Cape Elizabeth earned a golden opportunity as the Clippers took two penalties in a seven-second span, but the Capers couldn’t convert on the 5-on-3, as Latham stopped a shot by junior Ben Ekedahl, denied senior Matt Riggle’s rebound, then made a nice pad save on a shot from junior Jeb Boechenstein to keep the game tied after 15 minutes.
“Danny’s playing great,” Jacobs said. “We weren’t sure about the goalie spot coming in, but he’s been great.”
Yarmouth was fortunate to be tied at intermission and came out a vastly different team in the second period.
Just 30 seconds in, Grant set up Veilleux for a goal and the Clippers were ahead to stay.
With 13:37 to go in the second, Conrad got a loose puck and fired a shot past Haber to make it 3-1.
“We were disappointed in our first period performance,” St. Pierre said. “We felt like we left a lot on ice. We weren’t moving our feet well, we weren’t engaging in the attack well. We committed to doing that in the second period and that made a difference.”
Yarmouth managed to protect that lead the rest of the period, but again, the Clippers had to do so short-handed.
With 10:58 to go in the period, Newberg was sent to the penalty box for roughing and 41 seconds later, Conrad was sent off for holding. Cape Elizabeth coach Matt Buotte called timeout, hoping to inspire a goal, but the Capers only put the puck on net twice and Latham denied both Ekedahl and junior Carter Brock.
Late in the period, the Capers looked to draw within one, but after Riggle set up Boechenstein for a nice look, Latham made the save and another bid from Boechenstein was blocked by Grant.
The third period saw Yarmouth pull away.
With 12:10 remaining, Newberg gave the Clippers some breathing room. The score was set up by Grant, who kept play alive after Veilleux sent a shot wide and passed to Newberg for the goal which made it 4-1.
Then, with 9:54 left, Jacobs got the puck on the Yarmouth side of the red line, took a stride and sent it in on goal and it somehow eluded Haber to make it 5-1 and essentially end the competitive phase of the contest.
“I was just dumping (the puck) in,” said Jacobs. “I turned around and I heard the crowd cheer. It was awesome. I’ll take it.”
The Clippers’ penalty kill would get another opportunity to step up under difficult circumstances later in the third.
After Grant was sent to the penalty box for a hooking penalty with 4:43 to go, Newberg was sent off for roughing 15 seconds later and if that wasn’t bad enough, Jacobs was sent off for slashing 18 seconds after that.
Cape Elizabeth pulled senior goalie Grant Rusk, who had come on after the fifth goal, and had a few chances playing 6-on-3, but Latham turned aside a shot from junior Eli Babcock, Ekedahl had successive shots denied and Boechenstein was robbed as well.
With 2:18 left and Rusk still on the bench, Grant raced after a loose puck and tucked it into the empty net for a short-handed goal to push the lead to 6-1.
Grant scored one final goal, on a rebound of a Conrad shot with 35.6 seconds to play and that accounted for the 7-1 final score.
“The win was big,” Jacobs said. “We wanted to get to 5-0. It feels really good. We’ve practiced hard and played really good teams. We’ve come together and made it work. In the first period, Cape took it to us, but we talked in the locker room. We knew we had to come out stronger and put in more effort to come out with a ‘W.'”
“It’s quite the start contrast from last year,” said Grondin. “It’s a good feeling. The way we lost last year was motivation, especially for the kids who played last year. We didn’t want to be in a hole like last year.”
“I think we came out really flat and soft, but to our credit, we found another gear,” St. Pierre added. “We recognized we weren’t competing the way wanted to and in the second and third periods, I think we did that.”
Yarmouth showed great offensive balance as usual, as five different players lit the lamp, with Grant and Veilleux each scoring twice.
“We can score with anyone,” Grondin said “There’s no shutting one person down and beating us.”
As impressive as the Clippers were on offense, their penalty kill was the story of the afternoon, as they stopped Cape Elizabeth on all nine penalties, including three 5-on-3s.
“I give credit to our coaches for setting up a good kill and us for executing, especially Dan back there, making saves and kicking away rebounds,” Grondin said.
“There were a lot of penalties we took we didn’t need to take,” St. Pierre said. “They weren’t hard, aggressive penalties. They were lazy, selfish penalties and we have to put a stop to that for sure. We worked on our 5-on-3 PK last week and we executed it really well tonight.”
In the understatement of the year, Cape Elizabeth was left frustrated.
“It could have been 6-on-1 tonight, but I don’t care how many extra men you have, if the penalty killers outwork you, you won’t score goals,” Buotte lamented. “We got outworked in every single zone tonight. Yarmouth played a 45-minute game and we played a five-minute game. They outworked us. There’s no way around that and we didn’t show up. I think the score line was reflective of what we deserved. It could have been worse.
“We know we have the talent, but hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. You saw that tonight. This should have been an even matchup. There isn’t a six-goal gap between the teams in terms of talent, but there was a 10-goal gap in work ethic.”
The teams meet again Feb. 15 in Yarmouth. By then, the playoff picture will be much clearer and both squads expect to be in the middle of it. Each team has a lot of work to do first.
Cape Elizabeth hopes to bounce back Wednesday at Gorham. The Capers host Brunswick Monday.
“I’m glad we can turn right around and play again Wednesday and we won’t have to sit and stew about it too long,” Buotte said. “Our season can go one of two directions, (down the drain), or we can turn around with a strong performance Wednesday and right this thing. I think we have the guys to do that. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Yarmouth is idle until Saturday, Jan. 2, when Maranacook pays a visit.
The Clippers hope to make 2016 a special year.
“We have to come out and have a strong start every game,” Jacobs said. “If not, some teams will take advantage of a slow start and put up four or five goals and we’ll be in a hole.”
“We’ll use the time over Christmas break to work on stuff and work on our compete level so we don’t come out soft like we did today,” said Grondin. “We’ll work on our speed a little bit coming out of our zone, but other than that, I think we’re looking good.”
“It’s only December,” St. Pierre added. “We still have two-thirds of our season in front of us. A lot can happen between now and then. A lot of teams will gun for us now. We have to keep our compete level up.”
Yarmouth junior Bill Jacobs rifles a shot past Cape Elizabeth sophomore Alex Glidden.
Yarmouth senior captain Patrick Grant races past Cape Elizabeth junior Ben Ekedahl.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Alex Glidden skates with the puck.
Cape Elizabeth junior Jeb Boechenstein fights Yarmouth freshman Sam Marjerison for the puck.
Yarmouth senior captain Patrick Grant bangs home a loose puck for the game’s final goal.