YARMOUTH — In the relatively small world of Maine girls’ hockey, it’s common knowledge that if you’re going to beat the Yarmouth/Freeport cooperative team, you’ll need to clamp down on the speed of forward Michelle Robichaud and the nifty stick-handling of winger Ariel Potter.
Add to that list the gritty two-way play of Emily Johnson.
Robichaud had two goals and two assists, and Johnson contributed a goal and three assists as No. 4 seed Yarmouth/Freeport rolled to a 7-0 win over No. 5 Mt. Ararat in an East quarterfinal Thursday night at Travis Roy Arena.
The Clippers (14-4-1) move on to a regional semifinal Saturday against No. 1 Leavitt/Edward Little (15-3) at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Mt. Ararat closes its second varsity season at 5-13-1.
Johnson got the Clippers going just 2:05 into the game, lifting a backhander over the shoulder of goalie Allison Nolan (32 saves).
“Backchecking is just as important as scoring,” Johnson said. “I like to come back to the bench knowing I couldn’t have given anything more.”
That was obvious in the second period as Johnson prowled the neutral zone, intercepting passes, stealing pucks and making life difficult for the Eagles. Her work helped set up goals by Kate Brown (3:46), Potter (4:00) and Robichaud (7:10) that gave the Clippers a 6-0 cushion.
One person sees the effort more than most.
“She’s on the power play, the penalty kill. She’s one of the best faceoff players in the league and yet nobody knows who she is,” Yarmouth/Freeport Coach Jeff Haley said. “That’s OK. It’s always good to fly under the radar.”
Robichaud scored a short-handed goal at 6:12 of the first. Potter came around the cage to Nolan’s right and found Robichaud at the center of the blue line. Her low wrist shot slipped between Nolan’s pads.
Robichaud set up Georgia Giese (goal, two assists) to make it 3-0 with 31 seconds left in the period.
Now, it’s on to the semifinals. The Red Hornets handed Yarmouth/Freeport its first loss, 4-0 on Dec. 28. The Clippers turned in a better performance in the rematch Jan. 30, falling 2-0.
“If we play them as well as we did last time,” Johnson said, “we have the opportunity to make some good things happen.”
Two signs the Eagles were pleased with their season despite the loss? First, Coach Ron Hutchins and assistant Paul Raymond proudly sported red and blue stripes in their hair. “We told the girls at the beginning of the season if we made the playoffs, we’d paint or shave our hair, their choice,” Raymond said. “I bought the paint this afternoon.”
With about 30 seconds to go, Hutchins pulled goalie Allison Nolan and sent all six seniors onto the ice to wind down careers that began as a club team.
“The reward is the girls learned they can do anything,” Hutchins said. “They don’t need anyone telling them what they can do. They got (to the tournament.) They know what’s possible.”