The problem is a good one to have. Some coaches worry about winning games because they don’t have the talent.

Joe Robinson’s boys’ hockey team has talent. He’s just not sure if they know enough about winning.

“We’re usually the underdog,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete team is now 2-0 after a 10-5 win over the York Wildcats on Thursday afternoon at Troubh Arena.

South Portland’s Bradley McMains takes the puck down the ice against York.

Freshman Cullen Adams broke a 1-1 tie in the second period with three straight goals.

The hat trick from Adams was a good sign for Robinson, as the Red Riots jumped ahead of York (0-2).

“I wonder if we know how to go into games and control it and set the pace?” Robinson said.

South Portland has not been a factor for years. The Red Riots last reached the semifinals in 2010. Since then, South Portland has reached the playoffs in six of the past eight years, always losing in the quarterfinals.

“I think we’re really turning it around,” said junior defenseman Willets Meyer.

York’s Dalton McCann rushes up the ice as South Portland’s Ian Souther pursues.

Despite recent history, the Red Riots were considered a top contender heading into this season.

“It’s a weird situation. Usually you become the top dog by knocking off that top dog,” Robinson said. “We now have the talent, the skill, the numbers to be that type of team.”

Robinson said four of his better players are currently injured, including senior captain Mitchell Adams (sprained knee), Cullen’s older brother.

“I always wanted to play on this team,” Cullen said.

With players hurt, young players had to step up. Besides Adams’ three goals and an assist, sophomore Bradley McMains had two goals and two assists. Senior Andrew Burns added a goal and three assists.

This hybrid roster has 13 players from South Portland, five from Freeport and five from Waynflete. It can be a challenge for a team that practices at 5:30 a.m. in Biddeford.

“Wake up at 4 a.m.,” said Meyer, a student at Freeport. “You do whatever you have to do.”

What the Red Riots had to do Thursday was fight off a pesky York team that is better than its record after an opening loss to Class B power Greely. Jake Nelson gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the first with his first of three goals. Meyer’s power-play goal tied it later in the period.

South Portland’s Willets Meyer skates toward the net.

South Portland’s three-goal lead after two periods quickly turned into a 4-3 edge early in the third.

The Red Riots then pulled ahead with three fast goals, but York scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 9:33, and still had the man advantage. Robinson called time out.

“I told them not to press. We have enough to win,” Robinson said.

York outshot South Portland 32-26, as goalie Liam McGibbon made 27 saves.

“We had a lot of good scoring chances,” York Coach Jim Powers said. “We have a young team. We’re just trying to find our pace.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

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Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH


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