A competitive schedule could help the Greely boys in their drive to play for another Class B state championship.

Last Saturday night, the Rangers, the top-ranked team in Western Class B, cruised to an 8-1 win against Leavitt after suffering their first three losses of the season.

Greely, which won a state title in 2009, lost to some tough teams.

On Jan. 21, archrival Yarmouth rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to win 7-6 on the road.

Less than 48 hours later, perennial Class A contender Lewiston beat Greely 5-4 in overtime in Lewiston.

Two nights later in the same arena, traditional Class A power St. Dominic scored a goal with a little more than a minute left for a 3-2 win against Greely (7-3-1).

“I thought the guys’ bounce-back from those games was fine,” Greely Coach Barry Mothes said. “I think the team enjoys playing good, close competitive games, and these are the kind of games that make you better. We try to play a competitive schedule and I think it pays dividends.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Rangers.

Tonight, Greely hosts York at Family Ice Center in Falmouth.

Last season, the Wildcats, the defending state champions, edged the Rangers 6-4 in the Western Class B final. On Jan. 9, Greely beat York 4-0 at the Dover Ice Arena in New Hampshire.

During the final three weeks of the season, Greely’s schedule includes cross-over games against Messalonskee, one of the top teams in Eastern Class B, and Falmouth, one of the top teams in Western Class A.

“We’ve had a really competitive schedule up to now, and I think those games have helped us grow as a team,” Mothes said.

IT MAY NOT look like it, but the Yarmouth boys are very much in the race for a berth in the regional tournament.

Going into Wednesday night’s game against South Portland, the Clippers were ranked sixth in the seven-team Western Class B Heal point standings. The top five teams qualify for the playoffs.

Yarmouth plays its next five games at Travis Roy Arena and hopes that home-ice advantage will translate into wins down the stretch.

The Clippers went 5-1-1 on the road to start the season.

“We’ve got a nice big long homestand here and you know, it helps,” Yarmouth Coach David St. Pierre said.

“The guys are a little bit more relaxed. They’ve got time to adjust to the game preparation. We don’t have to worry about the bus legs in the first period. It’s a nice change of pace for us, and I think it will help us as we get into some tough games.”

Five of the Clippers’ remaining games are against teams from within their division.

“I think we’re in a pretty good place at this point,” St. Pierre said. “I think we’ve learned a couple of key messages early in the season around working hard and committing to team defense. We’ve had a little bit of success with what we’ve learned, and we’re going to continue to move forward. We’re nowhere near done yet.”

WHEN THE BRUNSWICK girls’ hockey team beat Falmouth 5-3 last week, it not only ended the Yachtsmen’s quest for an undefeated season, it cemented the idea that parity is becoming a part of girls’ hockey in its fourth season as an MPA sport.

In the past two seasons, St. Dom’s (2011) and Cheverus (2010) were clear-cut favorites for the state title, and they indeed won.

This year? Falmouth may be the favorite, but there are a lot of legitimate contenders.

“I know we have the best record, but we’re not the dominant team like St. Dom’s was last year and Cheverus the year before that,” Falmouth Coach Rob Carrier said. “A close game for those teams was winning by four goals.”

Among Falmouth’s wins are one-goal victories over Lewiston, Scarborough and York.

Brunswick Coach Bill Bodwell said the sport is growing and teams are deeper.

“The parity is great,” he said. “In the past years, there were a handful of girls that really dominated play in the state.

“This season there are a number of good teams that don’t have a go-to player, but can put two or three quality lines on the ice.”

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas contributed to this report.