It’s easy for high school athletes to let the importance of a game get the best of them. In its second meeting against crosstown rival Cheverus, the Portland/Deering boys’ hockey team had a temporary lapse of focus when emotion took over Thursday night.

The Stags took advantage with three goals in a 61-second span midway through the first period en route to a 5-3 victory at Troubh Arena.

When the teams first met Jan. 2, Cheverus also opened a 3-1 lead in the first period on the way to a 5-2 win.

“(The quick three goals) was the game tonight,” said Bulldogs Coach Jeff Beaney. “There is a lot of emotion in these games. They want to win so bad that they got a little rattled in the first period.”

Cheverus (6-3), which moved into third place in the Class A South Heal point standings – passing Portland – controlled the first two periods, stretching its 3-0 lead in the first period to 4-0 after the second.

“We had a nice start tonight with the quick three goals,” Cheverus Coach Dan Lucas said. “I thought for the first two periods we were pretty sound. We didn’t give up a lot of shots and we stayed out of the penalty box. If you have those two things, you have a good chance (at winning).”

The tone of the game was set in the opening minutes when both teams hit anything that was close. The result was the Bulldogs (6-4) didn’t register their first shot on goal until 3:37 had elapsed. The Stags went 1:08 longer before landing a shot on Portland goalie Sam Segal (17 saves).

The hard hitting continued throughout the game. Five of the 10 penalties were for cross-checking.

Cheverus opened the scoring 8:50 into the game when Jackson Wilson cleared the puck out of his defensive zone to David Woodford, whose shot was just wide. Luke Church then picked up a rebound of Marco Giancotti’s ensuing shot and scored from in close.

Forty-seven seconds later, Sean Walsh pounced on a rebound of his own shot from between the circles and slipped the puck just inside the left goal post.

The Stags’ third goal was scored at 9:51 when Walsh picked up a rebound off the back boards and buried a wrister from the bottom of the right circle.

Giancotti and Justin Ray picked up assists.

The only goal in the second period came less than one minute in. Ryan McSorley gathered a rebound and scored from the bottom of the right circle. Colby Anton, who took the initial shot, recorded the assist.

Portland came out strong in the final period and scored after 35 seconds, cutting its deficit to 4-1. Miki Silva took a pass at the blue line from Jake Luce (two assists) and unloaded a slapper that eluded Cheverus goalie Jason Halvorsen (16 saves).

Cheverus didn’t cave, answering 43 seconds later when Jess Pierce drove down the left wing and found the short side above Segal’s shoulder.

“I thought if we got the first goal (of the third period) we had a chance, but unfortunately Cheverus scored right after (our first goal),” Beaney said.

The Tocci brothers – Dominic and Donnie – recorded the final two goals for the Bulldogs.

Donnie Tocci’s goal cut the Cheverus lead to 5-3 with 3:08 to play.

UPDATE: This story was updated at 10:05 a.m. on Jan. 27 to show Sean Walsh scored Cheverus’ third goal, and again at 5:33 p.m. to correct the time span between the first three Cheverus goals.