Both teams clearly demonstrated that Tuesday night as they fought for 45 minutes in an epic battle for supremacy in Class A West.
For the second meeting this season, Scarborough eked out the victory, 2-1, with a third period goal from Jacob Gross before a packed house at Falmouth Family Ice.
The game was originally scheduled to be played back on Feb. 9; however, it was postponed due to Winter Storm Nemo which dropped as much as three feet of snow on parts of southern Maine.
The first time both teams met back on Dec. 17, it ended in a 4-3 overtime victory for Scarborough. Two of the Yachtsmen’s three losses this season have come at the hands of the Red Storm.
We’re destined to meet again, for sure,” said Falmouth head coach Deron Barton. “They’re a great hockey team and it’s a challenge that we’re looking forward to facing again. Tonight, it was up-and-down. Both teams skated hard and it had a real playoff feel to it.”
“Both games have been barnburners,” said Scarborough head coach Norm Gagne. And, both teams have improved from the last time we played each other.”
Falmouth (14-3-0) retains the No. 1 seed in Western Class A with a game at home against Thornton Academy on Thursday. Scarborough (16-1-0) moved to within four heal points of the Yachtsmen and can overtake the number one seed with a victory against Cheverus Thursday at Portland Ice Arena.
“It’s not an easy week, but if we can get through the toughest part of our schedule. I feel pretty good about our chances right now,” said Gagne. “We’ve been able to play with the Lewiston’s, who play a gritty game or a St. Dom’s, which was a bit more finesse, but I think the biggest thing with this team is that we’ve grown and we have little more poise under pressure.”
“We’re playing these big games at the right time and I like how we responded tonight to the big the crowd. That was one of my fears, which was how were we going to react. We showed a lot of poise.”
Junior Garrett McDonald scored a goal and added an assist to lead the way for the Red Storm.
After a scoreless first period, and what was appearing to be a scoreless second period, McDonald took advantage of a four-minute power play for the Red Storm as Falmouth’s Andre Clement was whistled for boarding and holding at the 11:01 mark of the period.
Senior Ryan Bailer sent a cross-ice feed to McDonald in the left faceoff circle for a one-time blast, beating Falmouth netminder Dane Pauls just 18 seconds into the first penalty.
Falmouth didn’t panic, and had a pair of prime opportunities to tie the game while shorthanded, if it weren’t for the stellar goaltending of Scarborough’s Dalton Finley, who finished with 28 saves.
Alden Weller took advantage of a missed tripping call for a breakaway, but Finley flashed a leg pad to make the save, followed by a shot from close range by Kris Samaras that was kept out of the net by a flailing Finley.
“He’s been unbelievable for us,” said Gagne. “He’s come up big for us all season long and I can’t say enough about him. Folks want to talk about some of the top goaltenders in the state and he belongs in that discussion.”
Falmouth carried that momentum into the third period and it would finally pay off as they found a way beat Finley, preventing him from getting his ninth shutout of the season at the 6:02 mark of the period.
Hugh Grygiel took a hit from a Scarborough defender, losing the puck into the slot area where Samaras picked it up and snapped a quick wrister, stickside, on Finley to tie the game, 1-1.
“We weren’t executing our strength, which was our speed, for the first two periods,” Barton said. “We had to dump the puck in deep and make their defenseman work. We did that for moments in the third period and saw results, just not enough for the game.”
“We let them take momentum at the start of the third period,” Gagne said. “I kept telling them that we’ve got to keep doing what we were doing the second period. I thought we dominated the majority of the second period, but we couldn’t put the puck in the net when we had the chance.”
The game remained tied for less than three minutes when McDonald sent an outlet pass to Jacob Gross at center ice, who beat his defenseman in the neutral zone for a breakaway, snapping a shot upstairs past Pauls, who stopped 21 of 23 shots, with 6:31 left in the game.
Again, Falmouth kept pressure on Scarborough, who began to show weary legs from playing its second game in as many days (3-0 win over Biddeford), but a pair of late penalties including a too many men on the ice, and a five-minute major for boarding to Clement, who hit defenseman Nick Bagley from behind, which both coaches carried differing point of views on, ended the Yachtsmen’s hopes of a comeback.
“I think we capitalized on a break on Jake making that goal and they took unnecessary penalties that gave us an opportunity to put the game away,” Gagne said.
“It was disappointing to take a too many men penalty,” said Barton. “That a breakdown in communication, which is a violation in hockey 101.”
The boarding call I think was embellished,” he added. “I don’t think it was as bad it was from my vantage point, but it was what it was. It’s a 50-50 call. Maybe a different official makes a different call or he sees it differently like saw it differently.”
Scarborough finished 1-for-5 with the power play, while Falmouth went 0-for-2.