SCARBOROUGH — They’re scoring nearly six goals a game, playing shutdown defense and their goalie rocks a chicken suit. Life is good for the Scarborough girls’ hockey team.
With 28 goals five games into the season, the unbeaten Red Storm are a little ahead of schedule in terms of creating chances, which had been an area of concern throughout Coach Caitlin Cashman’s first three seasons.
Sophomore center Alyssa Hulst, who has seven goals and three assists, is leading the push to goal, followed by junior left wing Rachael Wallace (5-5) and senior center Sarah Martens (5-3).
While Hulst drives through people and Martens is a reliable presence in the slot, the scoring touch of Wallace “has come out of nowhere,” Cashman said, citing key goals against Lewiston, Falmouth and York. “She’s all hustle.”
Cashman also has been impressed with how junior defenseman Riley McKeown gets things started by managing the breakout.
“I’m pretty lucky,” Cashman said. “The girls on this team are not only talented, they work their butts off.”
And then there’s goaltending. Starter Devan Kane has yet to allow a goal in four-plus games. Backup Shannon Hicks came on in the second period Saturday against Cheverus and stopped 14 of 15 shots in a 10-1 win.
Kane is keeping the team loose. She boarded the bus for Friday’s practice dressed head-to-toe in a chicken costume.
“What can you say to that?” Cashman said. “Devan truly walks to the beat of her own drum.”
Comic relief may be needed as the team approaches its game with state champion Greely on Dec. 22.
“We’ll be working on our defensive zone coverage,” Cashman said. “Everyone is still learning their role, and we’re learning to take our time on the breakout, seeing our options and not rushing it.”
Cashman’s getting a lot of help from junior defenseman Brenna Kent.
“Brenna’s a hustler, a real role model for the younger girls,” Cashman said. “She’s always talking, letting everyone know who’s open and who’s not. She’s a very smart defenseman.”
And one who is not afraid to mix things up.
Late in a recent 7-0 win over Falmouth, Kent kept playing hard, cutting down angles on breakouts to keep the Yachtsmen away from Kane.
“She’s very protective of me, which is awesome,” Kane said. “Brenna is one of the defenders who really hears me out there and transfers what I see to everyone else.”
Kent, paired with Samantha Nablo, is a key to the attack as well, keeping the puck in the offensive zone and snapping in shots from the blue line. She has two goals and four assists.
“It can get pretty chaotic out there,” Kent said. “My role is to be a vocal leader, settle things down and create scoring opportunities. My coaches want me to shoot on net, create tip-ins and rebounds. Sometimes I get lucky and it goes in.”
FALMOUTH IS experiencing a wild ride in front of backup goalie Hillary Nash, who started learning the position in January.
She’s stepped up in preseason and has performed well as last year’s starter, Kirsten Mazur, recovers from a knee injury. Mazur hopes to return before the holiday break.
The defending Western champion Yachtsmen have endured one-sided losses to Leavitt (9-1), Lewiston (7-2) and Scarborough (7-0), but also have cruised past Cheverus (13-1) and Biddeford (6-0). Falmouth (2-3) plays at Portland (1-3-1) on Wednesday.
“We’re implementing some new systems and it will take some time but we’ll get there,” Falmouth Coach Rob Carrier said. “We’re staying positive and getting better.”
TALK ABOUT knowing your opponent’s tendencies. Five girls’ hockey coaches in western Maine played at the University of Southern Maine in the 2000s.
Portland/Deering’s head coach, Courtney Rideout (2003), was a senior when Scarborough Coach Caitlin Cashman (2006) was a freshman. Cashman played alongside her assistant, Kelly Connors, and Cheverus Coach Amy McNally and assistant Katie Quartuccio, each of whom graduated in 2008.