When penalties became a theme in the third period of Wednesday’s girls’ hockey game between Portland/Deering and Biddeford/Thornton Academy/Wells, Portland senior Maeve LeClair knew how her team should handle the situation.

“We just needed to remind the girls to keep a positive attitude, keep your head in the game and just let things roll off your back,” LeClair said of the four power plays the Bulldogs gave up in the third period.

LeClair and other seniors on the squad have mastered that advice, sticking with the program even after losing 44 of 54 games their first three seasons. But their patience finally paid off this year, and the Bulldogs celebrated Senior Night by capping their historic regular season with a 6-2 victory over Biddeford (9-7-1) at Troubh Ice Arena.

The Bulldogs will take a 13-5 record into the playoffs as the South’s No. 2 seed.

“We’ve never been here before, so it’s definitely different,” Portland senior Kit Rosmus said. “The past three years have been a little tough, even though we worked our butts off. We got a whole bunch of new talent in here, and after three years of putting in the hard work, it’s finally paid off.”

One of those new talented players is Emily Demers, a junior who transferred from North Yarmouth Academy to Deering. She led the Bulldogs with a hat trick and an assist, while Maddy Danse, Caroline Lerch and Inez Braceras also scored.

“I think we exceeded expectations a little bit. The night we beat Cheverus, they learned how to win,” said Portland Coach Tom Clifford, referring to the Bulldogs’ 4-3 overtime victory over top-seeded Cheverus/Kennebunk on Jan. 1. “If we show up and compete, I would play anybody.”

Portland outshot Biddeford 29-12. Portland goalie Adrianna Bodge finished with 10 saves, while Trinity Atwater made 23 saves for the Tigers.

Demers put Portland on the board 7:36 into the first period, assisted by Mikayla Fortin. Biddeford came alive shortly after when Ailaina Keely weaved through Portland defenders before taking a hard shot that sailed wide of the net. A minute later, Ainsley Wescott nearly tied the score, but her shot bounced between the posts and somehow didn’t cross the goal line.

Lerch made it 2-0 at 3:52 of the second period, with Demers picking up an assist. Inez Braceras added to the lead less than a minute later with a short-handed goal.

Paige Laverriere put in a rebound on that same power play for Biddeford’s first goal, assisted by Keely and Wescott at 5:09, but Demers answered with an unassisted goal late in the second.

The lead grew to 5-1 when Danse scored 2:21 into the third period, converting a Lerch pass. Wescott cut into the deficit with seven minutes remaining when she forced a turnover and took it to the net for an unassisted goal. But Demers got her third goal with 1:41 left – short-handed and assisted by Rosmus.

“This game is really emotional for me – not only because I’m a senior – but this is the only senior game we’ve won,” LeClair said. “That was not an easy game. They played really hard, so it was good to have that game before the playoffs.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

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