By Keith B. Wehmeyer
FALMOUTH – A 5-0 shellacking by Lewiston Monday at Family Ice Center left the Falmouth boys’ hockey team at a loss, literally and figuratively.
“This one makes you scratch your head and wonder why and how,” said coach Scott Rousseau. “I am searching for answers for how we could play this badly.”
The Yachtsmen frustrated longtime Eastern A power Lewiston with its forecheck in the first period, allowing only four shots, but collapsed in the final two periods, twice allowing goals within a minute of one another.
Lewiston got on the board 5 minutes 9 seconds into the second when senior Robbie Leeman cleaned up a rebound, sending it past Falmouth goalie Jay Hurdmann for a power-play goal. Just 19 seconds later, and again skating a man-up, Ben Wigant knocked in another loose puck to put the Blue Devils up, 2-0.
“We lacked emotion,” said Rousseau. “Even though we controlled the game (in the first period) we were very flat. Then for some reason, they scored one goal and that was it. We just couldn’t find a way to play with energy and passion anymore.”
Falmouth outshot Lewiston 32-17, but couldn’t put the final touch on any of its opportunities.
“We just lacked enough passion or energy to finish,” Rousseau said. “We had enough technical play to be in the right spots, but we just didn’t have enough hunger to score a goal.”
Coming into the season it was Falmouth’s offense that was expected to be its strength. The Yachtsmen had to replace top players on defense, and star goalie Derek Kump, the program’s all-time win leader, between the pipes.
“When we started the season and you looked at all the forwards we had returning, you didn’t think that scoring would be our problem,” Rousseau said. “Lo and behold, Jay Hurdmann emerges as a sophomore goaltender and he has been very good for us. And all and all, especially five on five, our young defensemen have been very good for us. It’s our key guys, our returning guys, that are letting us down right now.”
The lackluster play is further puzzling given Falmouth’s recent results. Saturday, the Yachtsmen defeated host Thornton Academy, considered one of the top teams in Western A, 2-1 (giving Rousseau momentary bragging rights over his younger brother Shawn, the Golden Trojans’ first-year coach).
On New Year’s Day, the Yachtsmen dominated rival Greely, 6-1, in the Dudley Cup, making them 11-0 all-time in the event. Even in its one previous loss on the season, Falmouth played well, falling to another Eastern A contender Brewer, 4-1, in a game that was closer than the score indicated.
“We played Brewer and we outshot them; we had a few bad goals go in and their goaltender played great,” Rousseau said. “That happens. But to not come out in the third period (against Lewiston), that makes you scratch your head and really just wonder what we have inside.”
Monday, on the defensive end, Falmouth was beaten to almost every loose puck and rebound. Lewiston’s first three goals came off rebounds, the third 2:35 into the final period when Sam Cloutier flicked a floundering puck past Hurdmann from close range.
Only 36 seconds after Cloutier’s goal, Lewiston streaked down the ice in transition with Leeman hitting Ben McDonough at the far post to put the Blue Devils up, 4-0. It was yet another power-play goal, one of four in six opportunities for the Blue Devils.
Minutes later, Falmouth failed to capitalize while skating with a two-man advantage for just under a minute. The Yachtsmen sent multiple shots bouncing off the pads of Lewiston goalie Cam Poussard, but again couldn’t finish, even while skating five-on-three.
“It’s a nice microcosm of the event isn’t it?” Rousseau said. “They scored four power-play goals and we went 0-fer (0-7). They worked much harder than us on the power play. It really kind of sums it up.”
The Yachtsmen’s schedule won’t get any easier. After visiting top contender Scarborough Wednesday (too late for this edition), Falmouth (ranked fifth in the initial Western Class A Heal Points standings) hosts two-time defending Class A state champion Biddeford Saturday night.