Yarmouth's reign ended by York in semifinals

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Yarmouth junior Dom Morrill is stymied by York junior goalie Keenan Gamache during the Wildcats’ 8-1 win in Friday’s Class B South semifinals. The Clippers’ reign as regional champions came to a close and York advanced to meet Greely in Wednesday’s Class B South Final.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

LEWISTON—The York Wildcats are as good as advertised and as a result, the defending regional champion Yarmouth Clippers are going home.

Friday evening in a Class B South boys’ hockey semifinal at the Colisee, York dominated from the drop of the puck right through the final whistle in a dazzling display of dominance that should have the remaining teams in the playoff field quaking in their skates.

The Wildcats produced 21 first period shots and got goals from sophomore Andrew Bertolini and junior captain Jacob Martin, but 19 saves from Clippers junior goalie Dan Latham kept his team within hailing distance.

York then ended the competitive phase of the contest in the second period, getting goals from sophomore Jacob Nelson, senior Julius Lundgren and sophomore Dalton McCann to make it 5-0.

Tallies from Bertolini and Martin extended the lead to seven in the third period before Yarmouth got on the board with 4:40 to play on a goal from senior Bennett Travers, but it was far too little, far too late as the Wildcats added a power play goal from Lundgren in the final minute and went on to an 8-1 victory.

York got goals from five different players, including a pair each from Bertolini, Lundgren and Martin, and improved to 16-2-1, advanced to meet No. 4 Greely (14-6) in the Class B South Final Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Lewiston and in the process, ended the Clippers’ regional title reign and their season at 8-11-1.

“We’re proud of the fact that we had a tough season, but we still showed up for the playoffs,” said Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre. “We did a good job, but we ran into a very good hockey team. York showed that tonight.” 

Too tough

In a wide open region, York has separated itself in the minds of many this winter. The Wildcats went 15-2-1 during the regular season, losing twice to Gardiner and tying Cape Elizabeth, but beating everyone else.

As the No. 2 seed, York earned a bye into the semifinals and drew a Yarmouth squad that rediscovered its championship magic at the optimal time.

The Clippers went just 1-7 down the stretch and finished sixth in the region, but Monday, they went to Cape Elizabeth and sprung a 4-1 upset in the quarterfinal round (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).

The teams met just once this winter, a morning encounter on Feb. 11 which was won by the Wildcats, 7-0.

Yarmouth won four of the previous six playoff encounters, but the Wildcats took the most recent, 5-4, in the 2010 regional final (See sidebar, below).

Friday, York put on a show for 45 minutes.

York spent most of the first period controlling the puck in the Clippers’ zone, as if it was on the power play, but Latham stood tall.

Just 36 seconds in, Bertolini had a shot saved by Latham. After Lundgren missed wide, Latham had to deny shots by Martin, junior Mark Engholm, freshman Maxwell Pickett and junior Spencer Pickett.

After Lundgren again shot wide, Nelson set up senior Henry McCaddin for a great look, but again, Latham made the save.

Yarmouth’s first look came 6:53 into the game, when senior Chris Romano redirected Travers’ pass, but York junior goalie Keenan Gamache made the save.

The Wildcats then transitioned to offense for the game’s first goal.

It came with 7:05 to go in the first, as junior Thomas Carr set up Bertolini for a shot which took ricochets both unlucky and lucky. The shot hit the far post, but bounced back off of Latham and rolled across the goal line for a 1-0 lead.

After Latham robbed Engholm, Clippers junior Dom Morrill was sent to the penalty box at 10:43 and it took all of 16 seconds for York to double its lead, as after Spencer Pickett sent a back-hander wide, he got the puck back and fed Martin, who fired a blast from just inside the blue line which sneaked just inside the far post for a 2-0 lead.

Late in the period, the Wildcats got looks from Spencer Pickett, Bertolini and Carr, but Latham stopped them all, and Yarmouth had chances by junior Cooper May and Romano with Gamache denying those.

In the first period, York enjoyed a commanding 21-5 shots advantage, but 19 Latham saves kept the Clippers within hailing distance.

In the second period, the Wildcats continued to pull away. 

May got a couple looks in the first 30 seconds of the period, but his first shot went just wide and his second was saved by Gamache. 

York then returned to the attack and after Latham denied Martin on a shot, Martin on a rebound, Lundgren and then Maxwell Pickett, Pickett had a shot blocked by Latham and the rebound came to McCaddin on his knees in front, but a Yarmouth defender denied the bid.

Then, with 12:13 to go in the second, York got its third goal, as Maxwell Pickett set up Nelson.

After May had a shot saved and a Wildcats defender cleared the rebound, York made it 4-0 with 10:37 left in the period, as Lundgren sent a shot on goal, Latham made the save, but the rebound came back to Lundgren, who back-handed it home.

After another May shot was denied by Gamache, York added its fifth goal at 10:29 of the second, as McCann got to a rebound and sent it past Latham.

Late in the period, after a penalty on Lundgren, Yarmouth had a very effective power play, but senior Bill Jacobs’ shot was saved, Morrill’s rebound went just wide, May had a shot saved and Romano was twice denied.

After Latham made a diving save on a Martin bid, the Wildcats took a 5-0 lead to the second intermission.

York finished it off in the third period.

With 12:03 remaining, Bertolini took a pass from Carr, raced in and beat Latham for a 6-0 lead.

After the Wildcats killed a penalty, they matched their goal output from the teams’ first meeting, as with 8:43 to go, Martin scored unassisted.

To their credit, the Clippers continued to fight and were rewarded with 4:40 remaining, as Travers scored (Romano got the assist).

“We talk about first goal, last goal and that’s a goal of ours every game,” St. Pierre said. “The kids played hard until the very end. It was nice to see that they didn’t quit. It’s a point of pride with the program to go hard no matter what.”

Down the stretch, York put the finishing touches on its victory, getting one final tally from Bertolini, on the power play (from McCaddin and junior Joseph Graziano) with 55.6 seconds remaining to bring the curtain down on its 8-1 victory.

“We tried to contain them and keep their shots from the outside,” St. Pierre said. “I’ll give Danny those shots all day long. I thought we did a pretty good job of that for the most part, but they have a lot of talent on that team and their talent can make you look bad at times.”

Latham did his part, making 41 saves, but Yarmouth was outshot, 49-20 (Gamache turned aside 19 shots for the Wildcats).

“Dan’s been a rock for us all year long,” St. Pierre said. “He works hard at his game. He did a good job tonight handling rebounds, but that hockey team’s going to break through eventually.”

York will get a challenge in the regional final Wednesday, but if the Wildcats come out and play like they did Friday night, they might just punch their ticket to the state game.

York beat Greely, 6-2, Feb. 15 in Falmouth. The teams have plenty of playoff history, including some absolutely unforgettable games. Between 2001 and 2012, the Rangers and Wildcats split 10 meetings. The most recent was a 5-1 Greely victory in the 2012 regional final.

Wednesday’s contest could be memorable.

They’ll be back

Yarmouth, meanwhile, will lick its wounds and prepare for 2017-18, even though several key players will depart.

“We always set the goal that we want to be in Lewiston at the end of the year, so I’m proud of the fact we made it to this point,” St. Pierre said. “We’ll graduate eight really good seniors. They were a big reason for the success of this program the past two, three years. It’s hard to see those boys go, but they’ve helped set a standard for the new kids coming in. We’re proud of the environment we’ve created.”

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

Previous Yarmouth stories

Season Preview

Yarmouth 2 Brunswick 2

Yarmouth 4 Portland/Deering 3

Yarmouth 3 Greely 2 (OT)

Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 3 (OT)

Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 1

Yarmouth senior Chris Romano fires a shot.

Yarmouth junior goalie Dan Latham keeps a wary eye on York sophomore Jacob Nelson. Latham made 41 saves on the night.

Yarmouth junior Cooper May handles the puck.

Yarmouth sophomore Samuel Marjerison keeps the puck away from York sophomore Andrew Bertolini. 

Yarmouth senior Bennett Travers scores his team’s lone goal.

York celebrates its victory.

Previous Yarmouth-York playoff results

2010 Western B Final
York 5 Yarmouth 4

2007 Western B semifinal
York 7 Yarmouth 2

2001 Western B semifinal
Yarmouth 3 York 2

1993 Western B Final
Yarmouth 5 York 4

1991 Western B Final
Yarmouth 3 York 2 (OT)

1988 Western B semifinal
Yarmouth 4 York 2 

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