SACO – Scarborough had just played its worst first period of the young season and trailed 1-0 on a goal with 30 seconds left.

Turns out that was exactly what the Red Storm needed.

Freshman Bradley Rockey scored 3:40 into the second, and sophomore Garrett McDonald had two short-handed goals in three minutes to lift Scarborough to a 3-2 victory over Kennebunk in a Western Class A boys’ hockey game Thursday night at MHG Arena.

The game was a nice change for the Red Storm (3-0-1), who outscored their first four opponents, 26-2. Those two goals allowed came in a 2-2 tie Saturday against Cape Elizabeth. Even in that game, Scarborough held a 52-18 edge in shots. Not exactly a challenging start.

“We weren’t ready to play and it showed,” said Scarborough Coach Norm Gagne. “We usually come out strong and stay strong for three periods. For some reason tonight we didn’t.”

Kennbunk’s play had a lot to do with it.

With 10 seniors, the Rams (2-2) seemed to be surging after their 12-2 rout of Massabesic/Old Orchard Beach on Saturday.

“We’ve always had close, physical games with (Scarborough),” said Kennebunk Coach Don Hill. “We knew we had a battle ahead of us. Turnovers cost us. It was a good game. I thought the effort was there.”

After an even first period, the Rams took a lead at 14:30 when Tyler Fowles finished off a two-on-one with Ned Richards to beat Scarborough goalie Alex Cherry (23 saves).

Rockey made it 1-1 at 3:40 of the second, from Cam Brochu and Matt Henderson. After that, Scarborough’s penalty kill unit took over.

With two seconds left on an interference call, McDonald pounced on a loose puck at mid-ice. He skated up right wing, worked around a defenseman and beat Rams goalie Mike LeBlanc (16 saves).

Killing off another penalty less than two minutes later, McDonald again found himself with the puck. He skated in toward the right circle, cut back into the slot and tucked a backhander under the crossbar for a 3-1 lead.

“The defense did a great job getting the puck up to me,” McDonald said. “I could dump it or go for it. I went for it.”

Kennebunk wasn’t done. The thumping intensified in the third, when the Rams were called for three of their six penalties, and the Red Storm racked up four of their seven. Richards cut the lead in half with an unassisted, even-strength goal with 6:57 to play.

Instead of cruising to the finish as they had most of the season, the Red Storm, with just five seniors and seven sophomores, had to buckle down. That included defenseman Ryan Johnston, who stepped up as best he could on one skate. The blade of his right skate snapped in the Rams’ zone. When play shifted to the Scarborough zone, all he could do was watch.

“Not everything goes your way,” said Johnston, who reached the bench and played his remaining shifts on a borrowed skate. He wasn’t going to miss a minute. “In a tight game, you have so much more emotion. Every shift, you don’t know what’s going to happen, all this intensity builds up. It’s a lot of fun.”

“We found a way,” Gagne said. “We’re a young team, we had some adversity, and I thought we handled it pretty well.”