ROCHESTER, N.H. – Greely High, the defending girls’ hockey state champion, learned early that there’s a difference between being a good team and a winning team.

The Rangers lost two games in their first 2-1/2 weeks of the season.

“If you don’t want to compete, you lose,” Coach Nate Guerin said with his typical bluntness.

His team competed Saturday and beat York 2-1 at Rochester Ice Arena.

Greely (10-2-1) is 6-0-1 in its last seven games, the tie coming against powerhouse Scarborough. York, which handed Scarborough its only loss last week, dropped to 8-3-1.

The Rangers took a 2-0 first-period lead Saturday on goals by Etta Copenhagen and Paige Tuller.

The Wildcats made it interesting with a Rachel Yorke power- play goal in the third period.

Greely outshot the Wildcats 33-10, including 15-3 in the first period.

“They’re a strong team, no question,” York Coach Jeff Hird said. “But we showed some grit.”

Grit is what Guerin is looking for from his players.

“We’re moving the puck better. But what it comes down to, for us, is playing with some sense of urgency, some desperation,” he said.

“The girls are playing to win right now. We didn’t have that early in the year.”

The Rangers were coming off a midweek 3-1 victory against Lewiston, avenging a previous loss.

Greely was ripe for a letdown, except that it was playing against York.

“We came into the game kind of nervous,” Copenhagen said. “They’re a tough team. We heard they beat both Scarborough and Leavitt.

“We prepared with a lot of passion and a will to win. I think that transferred to the game.”

Copenhagen tipped in a Mary Morrison shot to give York a 1-0 lead at 4:50.

Six minutes later, Tuller scored on a rebound of a shot by Meg Finlay.

“We wanted to come out fast after a long bus ride,” Guerin said, “be intense right off the bat.”

After an even second period (shots 5-3 in Greely’s favor), York finally got on the scoreboard at 5:18, with Yorke sending in a rebound after Tori Stocks’ slap shot.

But the Wildcats did not get another shot on goal.

The Rangers kept York away from the net. Defensemen Freyja Victory, Chelsey Andrews, Erin Molloy and Morrison were leaders of the defensive cause. Goalie Maura Perry made nine saves.

York goalie Olivia Drew made 31 saves, including some solid efforts on rebounds.

The Rangers sport the best record in the East with six games to go on the schedule, including challenging contests against Falmouth and Leavitt/Edward Little.

“We’re beating teams at the right time, in time for the playoffs,” said Tuller, who added that the early losses served as a motivator.

“We knew we had to show what we had. We’re just putting together everything that we learned, just making those connections on the ice.”

York is in second place in the West, trailing Scarborough. Of the Wildcats’ remaining six games, they must play Falmouth and Lewiston.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: KevinThomasPPH