Falmouth junior Garrett Tracy sends Biddeford freshman Nick Reissfelder sprawling during the teams’ Class A South semifinal battle Saturday. The Tigers prevailed in overtime, 5-4.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

LEWISTON—Falmouth has the heart of a champion, but the Yachtsmen won’t be playing for a regional or state title this winter.

Saturday afternoon at the Colisee, Falmouth, the defending Class A South boys’ hockey champion, trailed most of the way against a Biddeford squad which has had its number this winter, but the Yachtsmen refused to go down without a fight in a regional semifinal.

The third-ranked Tigers got the game’s first goal at 3:44 of the first period, as senior Curtis Petit scored on a rebound, but senior Jacob Skillin-Lanou’s rebound tally at 6:47 brought second-ranked Falmouth even and the game would go to the first intermission deadlocked at 1-1.

Biddeford, which beat Falmouth twice in the regular season, then got the jump in the second period, thanks to a pair of power play goals, the first from freshman Nick McSorley at 2:21 and another from junior Trenton Ouellette at 5:07.

Down by two goals entering the third period, the Yachtsmen got life when a shot from just inside the red line from senior Brendan Hickey somehow found its way into the goal at 2:34, but the Tigers answered and seemingly delivered the dagger when senior Logan Magnant ripped home a shot off a faecoff at 4:37.

Undaunted, Falmouth got its power play going with 5:51 remaining, as Hickey scored on a rebound and with 3:09 to play in regulation, an unassisted tally from senior Lou Mainella finally brought the Yachtsmen even.

Neither team could score the rest of regulation and the contest went to an eight-minute, “sudden victory” overtime, where Biddeford would break Falmouth’s heart.

With 5:29 to go in the frame, freshman Trevor Ouellette sent a seemingly innocuous backhander on net, but it somehow bounced past Falmouth freshman goalie Sam Kidder and into the net to give the Tigers a 5-4 victory, sending them to the regional final for the first time since 2011.

Biddeford improved to 14-6, ended the Yachtsmen’s season at 12-6-1 and will battle top-ranked Cheverus (14-4-1) in the Class A South Final Tuesday evening, at a time to be announced, in Lewiston.’

“Biddeford knew they were in a game,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. “They’re a quality team, well-coached. They executed their game plan and we executed ours, but they came out on top.” 

Worth the wait

Falmouth really came on at the end of the regular season, closing on a 7-1 tear, which included a pair of victories over eventual top-seed Cheverus (see sidebar, below, for previous stories).

At 12-5-1, the Yachtsmen earned the No. 2 seed in Class A South, but after earning a bye into the semifinals, they hadn’t played a countable game since handling visiting St. Dom’s, 6-2, way back on Feb. 10. 

Biddeford was 12-6 against a very tough slate in the regular season and after placing third in Class A South, pulled away from upset-minded No. 6 South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete for a 6-3 quarterfinal round victory Tuesday.

The Tigers twice defeated the Yachtsmen in the regular season, 4-2 in Falmouth Dec. 27 and 4-3, in overtime, at home Jan. 10.

Falmouth had won three of the previous four playoff meetings, with a 7-1 victory in the 2013 Western A quarterfinals the most recent,

Saturday’s tilt, to no one’s surprise, was a battle throughout.

Biddeford scored on the game’s first good scoring chance, as after Kidder made a save on a shot from Trenton Ouellette, Petit was there to bang home the rebound (junior Colin Petit was also credited with an assist) and 3 minutes, 44 seconds in, the Tigers had a 1-0 lead.

That goal awakened the Yachtsmen, who soon answered.

After Biddeford senior goalie Owen Sullivan denied senior Kyle Kaserman and made a glove save on a blast from senior Theo Hembre, freshman Owen Drummey sent the puck across to Skillin-Lanou, who managed to get it past Sullivan to make it 1-1 with 8:13 to go in the opening period.

After Sullivan denied Drummey and Kidder made a nice save on a blast from senior Ian Couture, Biddeford went on the power play with 6 minutes left, but didn’t muster a shot on goal (Colin Petit sent the puck just wide with 5:02 to play).

Late in the period, Drummey missed just high, Tigers freshman Nick Reissfelder had a backhanded bid on a rush turned aside by Kidder, and Skillin-Lanou shot high, sending the game to the first intermission deadlocked at 1-11.

Falmouth had a 6-5 edge in shots in the first 15 minutes.

In the second period, the action picked up and Biddeford’s special teams produced a lead.

Drummey had a chance to put the Yachtsmen on top 42 seconds in, but shot just high and Hickey had a shot just miss at 1:28.

Then, at 1:52, the Tigers went on the power play and this time, they produced.

After Kidder robbed McSorley with his pad, McSorley got another chance and with 12:39 on the clock, he took a feed from Magnant and buried it for a 2-1 lead.

After Colin Petit just missed, Biddeford went back on the power play at 3:13 and struck again to widen the lead.

After Kidder denied Couture and saved a blast from Curtis Petit, it appeared Falmouth was going to escape unscathed, but with just six seconds remaining on the penalty, at 5:07 of the period, senior Liam Turner won the faceoff back to Ouellette, who fired a shot that Kidder couldn’t stop and the score was 3-1.

“We’ve worked hard on special teams and I think that was the difference in the end,” said Biddeford coach Jason Tremblay.

Both teams had good chances the remainder of the period, but the score remained the same.

After Mainella shot high and senior Charlie Emple had a shot saved by Sullivan, Kidder denied Couture.

At 9:04, Falmouth went on the power play for the first time, but the only good scoring chance over the next two minutes went to the Tigers, as Curtis Petit missed just wide.

The Yachtsmen did have a flurry right after 5-on-5 play returned, but senior Nick Farnham had a shot blocked, Hembre had a shot turned aside by Sullivan and Farnham’s rebound was blocked by Biddeford senior Colin Lavigne.

After Sullivan denied Emple with a glove save, he made his best stop, robbing Hembre, who got free behind the defense.

Then, at the other end, McSorley skated in alone on Kidder, but the freshman goalkeeper came up huge with the save.

In the final minute, Curtis Petit set up Colin Petit in front, but he shot wide and Colin Petit had another shot saved by Kidder and his rebound bid was denied as well.

After the play, Petit got shoved by Falmouth junior Jack Kidder, Sam Kidder’s older brother, and Jack Kidder was sent off for roughing.

Biddeford couldn’t generate a shot in the final 31 seconds, but started the third period on the power play with a two-goal lead.

The Yachtsmen stayed alive by killing the penalty, as the Tigers only managed one shot, from Magnant, which Kidder easily saved.

Then, after Kidder saved shots by Colin Petit and Couture, Falmouth got back in the game on a seemingly harmless shot, which surprisingly found the mark.

With 12:26 to play, Hickey skated across the red line and unleashed a shot that Sullivan appeared primed to easily save, but he got crossed up, dropped the puck and it slid behind him and into the net to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Just when it appeared the Yachtsmen had all the momentum, however, back roared Biddeford, as with 10:23 to play, again off a faceoff, McSorley won the puck to Magnant, who fired a blast that got past Kidder, just under the crossbar, for a 4-2 lead.

But the Tigers couldn’t close it out as Falmouth dug deep  and rallied in memorable fashion.

After Sullivan denied Hembre, senior Marcus Cady and junior Garrett Tracy, the Yachtsmen went on the power play at 6:57, but couldn’t convert, as Hembre was twice robbed by Sullivan, Tracy had a shot blocked, Skillin-Lanou had a shot denied and Mainella missed just wide.

Then, at 8:21, Falmouth earned a two-man advantage.

The Yachtsmen wouldn’t score 5-on-3, but got their third goal soon thereafter.

With 5:51 to play, Hembre had a shot saved by Sullivan, but Hickey rebounded it into the net to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Falmouth kept coming and eventually drew even.

After Mainella missed just wide and Tracy had a shot saved, Mainella put a shot on goal with 3:09 to go and while Sullivan (25 saves) got a piece of the puck, he couldn’t slow it enough and it went into the cage to tie the score, 4-4.

The Yachtsmen had their chances to complete an epic comeback and win in regulation, but Hembre missed high, Drummey and senior Kyle Kaserman were denied and Mainella had a shot blocked.

After Kidder made saves on bids from Couture and Trenton Ouellette, regulation ended with the score still tied.

After a three-minute break, the teams retook the ice for overtime and it wasn’t long before Biddeford ended it.

The Tigers controlled play nearly the whole way in OT.

After a long shot from senior Evan Paquette was turned aside by Kidder and Kidder denied Colin Petit, Biddeford ended it.

The winning play began innocently enough, as Trevor Ouellette got the puck to Kidder’s right and shot with his back-hand. The puck bounced on its way to the goal and somehow eluded Kidder.

With 5:29 left in overtime, the Tigers had survived and advanced and celebrated their 5-4 victory.

“The puck just got coughed up through the middle,” Ouellette said. “It was an easy pull to my backhand, the kid went right past me, and I shot backhanded. … As a freshman, I think it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

“I told the guys in overtime to go out and play hard and keep working,” said Tremblay, the former Biddeford star, who coached Cape Elizabeth to Class B state titles in 2005 and 2006 before returning to his alma mater last year. “It’s a gutty effort. We talked about getting pucks on the freshman. He’s a good goalie, but we wanted to get to the five-foot area.

“(Falmouth’s) a good team, but we’re a good team as well. We’re playing with confidence. These guys don’t quit. This could be Biddeford’s last go-around before a co-op team. We only have 22 kids. They impress me with how hard they work every day.” 

“Anytime you go into overtime in the tournament, anything can win the game,” Barton said. “That was the case here today. The puck had eyes. Nine times out of 10, the puck bounces off his pad and goes into the corner. It hit his buckle this time. It wasn’t a broken play or a missed check. You can’t blame it on (Sam). He made incredible saves in regulation and early in OT.”

Falmouth finished with a 29-23 edge in shots and got 18 saves from Kidder, but its season came to an all-too-fast conclusion.

“It’s a good group of kids who worked hard,” Barton said. “We were short in a lot of spots at the start of the season, but we became worthy of a game like this at the end. I’m proud of them. Leadership is our backbone. Our leadership stepped up and got it done. We had an opportunity to win it, but we didn’t bury it. We played with our hearts. We just didn’t win the game. It’s a good experience for the underclassmen. It’s good for them to be in a game like this.”

Return trip

Cheverus beat Biddeford twice this winter, but it wasn’t easy. The Stags enjoyed a 4-2 home victory Dec. 21, then eked out a 4-3 overtime decision at the Tigers Feb. 10.

Cheverus, which downed No. 5 Thornton Academy, 5-1, in its semifinal, is 3-0 all-time against Biddeford in the playoffs, with a 6-5 overtime victory in the 2016 quarterfinals the most recent.

The Tigers believe that after sweeping three games against Falmouth, that the third time will be the charm against the Stags.

“Coming in (to today), any of the four teams in the South could win,” Tremblay said. “We all beat each other. It’s been an awesome hockey season in the sense we’ve had great parity. It’s pretty emotional to get back to a championship game. The city is extremely proud. They love hockey. Guys like (Pittsburgh Penguins standout and former Biddeford Tiger) Brian Dumoulin have been texting.

“We’re not done.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Falmouth senior Kyle Kaserman and Biddeford junior Colin Petit fight for the puck along the boards.

Falmouth senior Lou Mainella brings the puck into the offensive zone as Biddeford senior Liam Turner defends. Mainella had the tying goal in the third period.

Biddeford celebrates Trevor Ouellette’s game-winning goal 2:31 into overtime.

Previous Falmouth stories

Season Preview

Falmouth 4 Bangor 2

Falmouth 9 Portland/Deering 2

Falmouth 4 Lewiston 1

Previous Falmouth-Biddeford playoff results

2013 Western A quarterfinals
Falmouth 7 Biddeford 1

2011 Western A semifinals
Biddeford 3 Falmouth 0

2006 Western A quarterfinals
Falmouth 4 Biddeford 2

2004 Western A preliminary round
Falmouth 6 Biddeford 2