Cheverus/Kennebunk junior Abby Lamontage, second from right, is mobbed by her teammates after her late goal put her team ahead to stay in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at Scarborough.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette photos.

More photos below.

GORHAM—In a girls’ hockey season that appears devoid of a clear favorite, defending South Region champion Cheverus/Kennebunk and up-and-coming Scarborough believe they have what it takes to emerge as champion.

Wednesday afternoon at USM Ice Arena, little separated the contenders until Cheverus/Kennebunk’s experience proved to be just a little too much for the Red Storm’s youth.

After a relatively even first period ended scoreless, Cheverus/Kennebunk completely dominated the second period, enjoying a 15-1 advantage in shots on goal, but Scarborough freshman goalie Ariella Swett came up huge time and again to keep the contest deadlocked.

The Red Storm then had three power play opportunities in the third period, but couldn’t convert and finally, with 2:28 to go, Cheverus/Kennebunk junior standout Abby Lamontagne put the puck in the net.

Scarborough wasn’t able to answer and with 46.7 seconds remaining, senior Sophia Pompeo added an empty-net insurance tally, producing a 2-0 victory.

Cheverus/Kennebunk improved to 7-1 on the year, beat the Red Storm for the fifth consecutive time and in the process, left Scarborough 5-2 on the season.

“I think we’re learning to play a different style,” said Cheverus/Kennebunk coach Scott Rousseau. “We’ve hit some roadblocks, but there are a lot of ways to win hockey games. We’re finding new ways to win.”

High hopes

Cheverus/Kennebunk had no peer last winter until running into Greely in the state final, a 3-1 loss. This winter, Cheverus/Kennebunk appears to have as good a chance as anyone to return to the state game as it opened with wins over visiting Winslow/Gardiner (10-0), host Falmouth (3-0), host Biddeford/Thornton Academy (12-2), host York (6-0), visiting St. Dom’s (4-1) and host Greely (11-2) before falling Saturday at home to Lewiston, 3-2.

Scarborough raced out of the gate with wins at Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland (4-3), at Gorham/Bonny Eagle (8-1), at home over Brunswick (7-3) and at Greely (8-0) before losing at Lewiston, 2-0. Saturday, the Red Storm returned to form with a 9-0 win at Biddeford/Thornton Academy.

Last winter, Cheverus/Kennebunk beat Scarborough twice in the regular season, 7-2 in Portland and 8-0 in Lewiston and again in the South Region semifinals, 4-0.

Wednesday, the Red Storm hoped to snap a four-game skid in the series and beat Cheverus/Kennebunk for the first time since Jan. 16, 2017 (3-0 at home), but Cheverus/Kennebunk prevailed again.

Scarborough appeared to score first at the 3:20 mark, when on the power play, freshman Maya Sellinger sent the puck on net and in the ensuing scrum, it got past Cheverus/Kennebunk sophomore goalie Trinity Atwater, but the officials ruled that freshman Calynn Gendreau interfered with Atwater and the goal didn’t count.

Cheverus/Kennebunk then went on the offensive, but Swett twice robbed Pompeo.

After Swett saved another shot by Pompeo, then one from Lamontagne, the Red Storm carried play late in the period only to see Atwater deny Sellinger, Gendreau and sophomore Hannah Martin.

Scarborough had a 7-4 edge in shots in the first period, but the second frame would be all Cheverus/Kennebunk.

Just a minute in, Swett had to deny Lamontagne on the back-hand, then turn aside junior Hannah Woodford’s rebound bid.

With 10:36 left in the period, the Red Storm took a penalty for having too many players on the ice and on the ensuing power play, senior Zoe Mazur missed just wide, Pompeo was denied by Swett, then Lamontagne twice had shots saved.

With 6:40 remaining, Gendreau took Scarborough’s lone shot of the period, but it rang off the crossbar.

Late in the period, Lamontagne set up senior Sarah Noyes for a shot which Swett saved, Swett robbed Lamontagne, then Swett saved another Lamontagne shot before denying Pompeo on the rebound.

Cheverus/Kennebunk had control of the game, but not the scoreboard and in the intermission between the second and third periods, the visitors preached patience and finishing.

Offense would finally appear in the third period, but not until late.

Early in the third period, the Red Storm went back on the power play, but Atwater saved a shot by freshman Evelyn Boardman and a pair from Sellinger.

After a second Cheverus/Kennebunk penalty, Sellinger tried again, but again, couldn’t finish.

“We’ve learned to get over our penalties, kill them and move on,” said Lamontagne. “We were able to do that.”

“I was very proud of the way the girls didn’t get flustered,” Rousseau said. “We can’t control when we get a penalty, so everyone concentrated on killing them. It took our flow away, but we did a good job and Trinity made some saves when she needed to.”

Cheverus/Kennebunk then returned to the attack, but Woodford, Lamontagne and Mazur were all denied by Swett.

With 4:46 on the clock, Scarborough had a final power play that produced just one shot, a bid from senior Taylor Veilleux which Atwater saved.

After the penalty expired, Cheverus/Kennebunk went back on offense and with 2:28 remaining, Pompeo set up Lamontagne, who skated in and fired a wrister past Swett and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“I was just coming down and I knew I needed to get (a goal),” said Lamontagne. “Sophie got me the puck. I just moved across the defender. I knew the goalie would shift over, so I just put it back where I came from. It was really frustrating having a lot of shots. I tried to make the most of the opportunities I got.”

“We did a good job being patient and not being flustered,” Rousseau said. “Abby stayed patient and was rewarded for a solid effort tonight.”

“Abby is a very talented player,” said Scarborough coach Caitlin Jordan. “We kept an eye on her and tried to track her all game. She’s a finisher. She knew she needed to score and she took advantage of the opening and put it in. Credit to her.”

The Red Storm took timeout and pulled Swett hoping to answer, but Boardman was called for tripping, negating the advantage.

Then, with 46.7 seconds left, Lamontagne set up Pompeo, who buried the puck in the empty net to account for the 2-0 final score.

“We had to keep it together and be patient,” Lamontagne said. “We knew it would be a tough game and it was a big sheet of ice we had to adjust to. I feel like we started to get it in the second period.”

“This is a hard arena to play in,” Rousseau said. “We really struggled in the first period with angles and (Scarborough’s) a good team. They pass very well, control the puck very well. They broke out through the middle of the ice and that really gave us problems. We did a better job controlling the middle of the ice in the second period and had some good chances, but their goalie made some saves. We had to be patient and grind it out. We were so offensive last year. We’re a different team this year. We can still win in other ways.”

Cheverus/Kennebunk outshot Scarborough, 26-12, and got a dozen saves from Atwater. The visitors went 0-for-3 on the power play.

The Red Storm got 24 saves from Swett, but failed on all four of their power play chances.

“It was a great game,” Jordan said. “(Ariella) did amazing. I couldn’t ask for her to do any better than she did.”

Midway point nears

We’re almost halfway through the girls’ hockey season and both teams are in good shape, but both can still improve.

Scarborough looks to end the old year strong Saturday when it plays at Portland/Deering.

“I think we’re doing well,” Jordan said. “We’ll face Lewiston and Cheverus again before the end of the season and hopefully it’ll be a different outcome. We have a young team. Half our team is freshmen. These games are learning opportunities. It’s a matter of teaching young players what they should be doing.”

Cheverus/Kennebunk is also on the road Saturday, at Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland, then battles Portland/Deering in the “City Cup” Saturday, Dec. 29.

“It’s a different team from last year, but we’re still in it and we just can’t roll over teams like last year,” Lamontagne said. 

“The girls are buying in and they’re playing hard,” Rousseau said. “I like where we’re at.”

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

Scarborough freshman Ariella Swett makes one of her 24 saves in a losing effort.

Cheverus/Kennebunk senior Sophia Pompeo and Scarborough freshman Maya Sellinger chase after the puck.

Scarborough senior Taylor Veilleux gets past Cheverus/Kennebunk junior Abby Lamontagne.