PORTLAND — Cheverus entered Tuesday night’s boys hockey game against Thornton Academy with the Western Class A-best 3-0 record, and the Stags proved over 45 minutes of play that their unblemished start was no fluke. Cheverus jumped ahead early, weathered a flurry from the Trojans, then pulled away for a 7-3 victory at Portland Ice Arena.

The matchup was a clash between Cheverus’ speed and Thornton’s size, and both teams tried to use their advantages from the drop of the puck.

“They came out and hit us around pretty good in the first period,” said Cheverus head coach Dan Lucas. “I said ”˜take the shot and hit back. Don’t do anything stupid or unnecessary. And let them know that you’re in the hockey game.’ We got a few hits in there, but we kind of weathered the storm a little bit.”

The Trojans (1-3) took their shots on Cheverus skaters, but weren’t able to put any shots on Stags netminder Kyle Severance until more than 10 minutes had passed in the first period.

When the Trojans’ first shot came, the Stags’ first goal soon followed. Alex Libby put a rebound of a James Hannigan shot into an open net with 3:23 left in the first. Hannigan scored an end-to-end goal less than two minutes later to make it 2-0.

“Anytime you can get ahead of the game, get that first goal or two, it gives you a quick boost,” said Lucas.

Thornton head coach Jamie Gagnon said his team’s effort in the first period wasn’t what he was looking for, but the Trojans came out an improved team in the second. Thornton put two shots on net in the opening two minutes, showing that it wasn’t ready to concede the game to the Stags.

“I think we came back out in the second period, that’s certainly more of the game we want to play on a consistent, game in, game out basis,” said Gagnon. “I think that’s the type of hockey we need to play to be successful.”

While the shots came immediately, the goals didn’t. But Thornton finally got on the board 9:25 into the period, as Nolan Millett took a pass from Owen Elliott and skated in for a breakaway goal. Elliott scored from Jimmy Remmes exactly two minutes later to tie the game 2-2.

The even score only lasted 12 seconds, as Jesse Cyr-Brophy scored for Cheverus off of the ensuing faceoff. Things then went from bad to worse for the Trojans as senior defenseman Hunter Ebling received a game misconduct after the goal and was ejected from the game.

“There’s a very fine line between intensity and composure. I thought the intensity was there, and maybe to the point where we got too amped up, and then they come back the other way and we get frustrated and deflated,” said Gagnon.

That was the beginning of the end for Thornton, as the Stags scored two more goals over the next three minutes to take a 5-2 lead into the second intermission.

“The game kind of got out of our hands in those three minutes,” said Gagnon.

Cheverus made it 6-2 five minutes into the third period on a goal by Ryan McSorley, but the Stags then lost their heads a little bit. Garrett Dion got a minor penalty for contact to the head 30 seconds later, and the Trojans responded.

Eric Profenno scored halfway through the power play, and with a delayed penalty awaiting, to give Thornton some life. Cheverus’ Keegan Thomas went to the box after the goal, and Hannigan followed 44 seconds later. But the Trojans couldn’t capitalize on the 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 opportunities as Severance made a pair of tough saves.

“He’s been sitting on the bench for three years, and he’s finally getting his chance,” Lucas said of Severance. “He’s getting more and more confidence, and it think as the season goes on it’s only going to get better.”

Thomas scored just after the Hannigan’s penalty time elapsed to complete the scoring, and the Stags moved their record to 4-0.

“We’ve had some breaks along the way. The key is that everybody is working,” said Lucas.

The inexperienced Trojans fall to 1-3 with a game against rival Biddeford looming on Saturday. Gagnon said it’s going to be a long road for his team, but he hopes games like Tuesday’s will be building blocks for improvement as the season progresses.

“We got to get back to work, focus on the positives out of this one, and see if we can’t put together a more consistent effort for an entire game,” said Gagnon.

Sports Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.



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