Thornton Academy’s Cooper O’Brien goes down following a check by Cheverus’ Andrew MacGillivray during Thursday night’s high school hockey game at the Portland Ice Arena, won by Cheverus, 3-2.
By Paul Betit
PORTLAND - Cheverus withstood a furious third-period rally by Thornton Academy to pull out a 3-2 win in a Western Class A hockey game Thursday night at the Portland Ice Arena.
Keegan Thomas, a sophomore forward, scored his first goal of the season to snap a 2-2 tie and goalie Jason Blier made 19 of his 38 saves during the final 15 minutes as the Stags beat the two-time defending state champions for the second time this season.
"Like I told the kids, Thornton Academy is not going to quit until the game is over, and they had us scrambling," Cheverus Coach Dan Lucas said.
In the end, it was Blier's play that made the difference.
"We told him if you're going to let the puck get away from you, push it to the corners, don't get it out front, and he did that," Lucas said. "The puck was going to both sides but it didn't go out front."
Thornton Academy Coach Jamie Gagnon could find little fault with his team's effort, especially during the final period.
"That third period is exactly the way we have to play to be successful," he said. "Unfortunately we weren't able to bury opportunities, but that happens."
Still, it was an improvement over the last time the Trojans played the Stags. On Jan. 5, Cheverus skated to a 6-2 win at the Biddeford Ice Arena.
"Both teams did a pretty good job of controlling the neutral zone and not allowing shots when (the puck) got in deep," Gagnon said. "Both teams blocked a ton of shots, and that just goes to show both teams were committed to the defensive end."
Jimmy Hannigan, another sophomore forward, scored two goals during the first 25 minutes to send the Stags (10-4) into a 2-0 lead.
Two minutes into the game, Hannigan walked out of the right corner with the puck and looked like he was going to pass before putting a wide-angled shot past goalie Andy Huot.
"I saw a teammate on the other side (of the slot), but I also saw the five-hole open up and I took the shot," he said.
Nine minutes into the second period, Hannigan scored his 12th goal of the season when he finished off a rush down the left side with a blistering shot from the circle.
"We were in a line change and I think their defensemen were more concerned with the two guys coming off our bench, so I took the shot," he said.
The Trojans (6-7) gained some momentum when Eric Profenno scored an unassisted goal with 54.6 seconds left in the second period.
Thornton Academy climbed right back into the game three minutes into the third period when Carter Davis put in a rebound of a shot by Owen Lamoine.
A little over a minute later, Thomas scored from the slot to put Cheverus back into the lead. Hannigan set up the game-winner with a centering pass from the left circle.
"I saw a teammate open out in front so I got the puck to him," he said.
"The puck didn't stay on his stick very long, and that was good," Lucas said.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:
Thornton goaltender Andy Huot drops to his knees to block a shot by Cheverus’ Jimmy Hannigan during Thursday’s game at the Portland Ice Arena.