Red Stormer Skylar Pettingill broke a maddening deadlock with a resilient Gorham squad on Saturday, Jan. 8, scoring early in the third and putting his team on top, 2-1. Scarborough added two more, including an empty-netter, as time ticked away and ultimately claimed victory over the Rams, 4-1.

Scarborough improved to 8-0 in A South. The Storm controlled much of the play against the Rams, though they only managed three quality goals.

“A game like that becomes frustrating sometimes, to the players,” said Scarborough head coach Norm Gagne. “When you’re dominating, you’re shooting a lot of pucks on net and you’re not getting any breaks, it does become frustrating.”

Gorham, meanwhile, dropped to 2-6 in B South.

“I was very impressed with the effort, especially in the second two periods,” said Gorham head coach John Portwine of his boys. “First period, I thought we were a little slow, a little tired.”

The Storm jumped on top early when Justin Perry slid in from the right Gorham faceoff dot for a close one-on-one with Rams netminder Noah Bird. Perry won the duel, waiting, waiting, waiting for the perfect moment to pull the trigger on a precision strike to Bird’s top corner. 1-0.

“Perry showed a lot of composure,” Gagne said. “When [Bird] went down, Perry waited, and then he roofed it on him. That’s the mark of a good goal-scorer.”

Gorham leveled the scoreboard in the second, when Trevor Gray outpaced his Scarborough counterpart up the right side of the ice, then launched a shot on Storm keeper Brandon Wasser. Wasser made the save, but the puck rebounded 10 feet out, directly to an undefended Tanner Garand. Garand capitalized, beating Wasser for 1-1.

“We came out in the second period and played really the best period that we’ve played,” said Portwine. “I feel like we’re heading in the right direction; things are going well. Guys are playing well, they’re working hard. We’ve just got to keep working and stay positive. The wins will follow.”

The Rams are a young team, with just two seniors on a 19-man roster. So their record perhaps doesn’t adequately reflect their potential, especially considering the talent their up-and-comers add to the ice. Both Gray and Garand are freshmen, for instance.

Portwine heaped praise on Gray and Garand.

“Those two freshman forwards played exceptionally,” he said. “They stuck with it, did the right things, trying to get the puck to neutral ice, then get it deep. There’s a lot of promise there. And now that they’ve got varsity games under their belt, they’re starting to feel like they belong, not as shellshocked.”

The third belonged to Scarborough. Matt Caron assisted Pettingill in regaining the edge for the team, firing a first salvo on Bird from the left. Bird saved the shot, but had to hit the deck to do so, and couldn’t whip quickly enough over to the right to stop Pettingill’s upstairs rebound.

“Skylar, it’s his first game back from a shoulder injury,” said Gagne. “So we let him in here and there, but his first shift he scored off a rebound. The first [shot], I said, ‘You whiffed!’ on. He came right into the slot area and he whiffed, but he came back around and got a rebound and put it in.”

The Storm’s third goal mirrored their first: Cam Smith’s slow approach from the left Gorham face-off dot resembled Perry’s, two periods earlier, as did his high-corner shot to beat Bird for 3-1.

Gagne knew going in that Bird is good, and he told his boys to try for off-angle approaches and upper-deck shots.

“I was telling the kids, ‘The only way we’re going to beat him is from side-to-side, and that’s what we had to do,” Gagne said. He also instructed his boys to shoot high, once Bird went to the ice.

Maybe the Rams had gotten a bit winded; they looked a little sluggish in pursuit of loose pucks, as the game wound down. Still, they soldiered on. Portwine pulled Bird in the waning minutes, of course, though the gambit didn’t pay off. Cam Nigro added an empty-netter to wrap things up at 4-1.

“One of the things that was big for us,” Gagne said, “was for us to win the loose-puck battles. I felt we were a quicker team…and when you’re not having a successful night shooting, you need to be able to do those little things.”

“Any time you play a team this deep and strong,” Portwine said of the opposition, “they’re going to run you down. We were playing a lot of the time in our own end, which is a lot of hard work.”

Bird put in a lot of that hard work, as the Storm peppered him with shots.

“Noah played really well, played awesome,” said Portwine. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Gagne applauded Bird: “Their goaltender did a really great job,” he said. “He kept them in the game. We put a lot of shots on him. He’s quick, has a great glove, and made a lot of great glove saves.”

The Rams’ defense also deserves credit for not crumpling under all that Scarborough pressure.

“I’ve got a senior, Willy Baxter, and a junior, Jake Bear, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen, on my defense,” Portwine said. “The upperclassmen have done a great job mentoring the younger guys, encouraging them to play the puck as hard as they can.”

Of special note: The win was Gagne’s 696th W, making him second all-time among high school hockey coaches in the entire United States. He credited the endless list of talented assistant coaches he’s had, as well as the skilled and committed players.

Scarborough traveled to rivals Falmouth on Tuesday the 12th. The Storm host Lewiston on Saturday the 16th.

Gorham hosted Greely on Wednesday, Jan. 13; they welcome Camden Hills on Saturday.

Gorham’s Carl Bear faces off with Scarborough’s Cam Nigro on Saturday.Scarborough senior Sean McDonald tangles up with Gorham freshman Trevor Gray in the Red Storm’s 4-1 win over the visiting Rams on Saturday.The Rams’ Ben Eichner chases down Scarborough’s Matt Caron on Saturday.Gorham’s Jake Bear and Scarborough’s Eric Murray tussle over the puck on Saturday.


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