BIDDEFORD — How does a team shake its habit of slow starts against quality opponents?
Scoring twice on one penalty kill is a good place to start.
Lizzie Gross scored two goals, including the second of the Red Storm’s two short-handed scores, and added an assist to lead Scarborough to a 5-0 victory over Biddeford in a schoolgirl hockey game Saturday at Biddeford Arena.
Scarborough (10-0), the Western Conference’s top-ranked team in the Heal point standings, roared out to a 4-0 lead after one period against the Tigers (5-3), who entered the game ranked No. 2. It was a stark contrast to the Red Storm’s typically cautious opening period in big games in recent years.
“We’re definitely happy with (the fast start),” said Kristen Murray, who had Scarborough’s other short-handed goal. “We have some great conditioning on this team, so in the second and third periods we can wear teams down. But the first period today, we came out flying.”
Sami Shoebottom and Meg Doak each had a goal and an assist, and Devan Kane made 12 saves as Scarborough posted a second straight shutout and its fourth on the season. The Red Storm were skating without three regulars, including All-State forward Alyssa Hulst and Hannah Snyder. They lost Shoebottom in the second period to a stomach bug.
“The girls realize when one or two players aren’t available,” Scarborough Coach Caitlin Cashman said, “there’s an opportunity for 19 others to step up.”
One of them was Gross, a freshman with speed, strength and the stickhandling skills to make the most of her chances. She slipped a wrist shot past Biddeford goalie Cassie Ellis (29 saves) for a 1-0 lead at 4:24 of the first. About three minutes later, Shoebottom finished a breakaway to make it 2-0.
Biddeford looked like it might have a chance to climb back in when Scarborough defender Jenna Block was called for a check at 12:02, giving the Tigers the first of their four power plays.
Murray put an end to that idea 52 seconds into the power play, wristing a hard, high shot from long range. The puck glanced off Ellis’ glove, caught the inside of the right post and fell into the twine.
“Rachael Wallace and I had a great forecheck going,” Murray said. “I got the puck and just shot it high. I think (Ellis) was screened a little by one of her defenders.”
Gross scored her second goal on the next shift, collecting the puck at her own blue line, outracing a defender and slipping a backhand shot past Ellis for a 4-0 lead.
“I can get frustrated if I can’t get a goal after a bunch of shots,” Gross said. “It boosted me a little to get that one.”
After a scoreless second period, Doak closed out the scoring 29 seconds into the third, scoring off a scrum in front of the Biddeford goal. Gross and Cara Reynolds assisted.
“You’re going to make mistakes on the ice, the important thing is how you react to those mistakes,” said Biddeford Coach Ashley Potvin. “We didn’t have a good first period, but to play them 0-0 in the second and 1-0 in the third is a positive reaction. We’ll build on that.”