PORTLAND—Little has gone the way of Falmouth’s perennially strong boys’ hockey team this winter, but Saturday evening at Troubh Ice Arena, the Yachtsmen showed signs that their brightest days are still to come.

Falmouth, which had lost five games in a row, all at home, shot to a quick 2-0 lead at Portland/Deering, as junior Tyler Baker scored twice in the game’s first four minutes.

But after a timeout, Portland/Deering responded, getting a goal from sophomore Nicholas Becker to pull within one after one period, then tying things up, 2-2, on senior Walter Lewandowski’s second period tally.

But with a chance to take the lead on the power play midway through the third period, Portland/Deering couldn’t do so and making matters worse, it turned the puck over and sophomore Owen Drummy scored to put the Yachtsmen on top to stay.

Drummy added another goal with 5:07 remaining and that loomed large as Portland/Deering senior Jake Luce scored with 1:12 to go, but the hosts couldn’t get the equalizer and Falmouth snapped its skid.

Baker and Drummy each scored twice as the Yachtsmen improved to 3-7 and dropped Portland/Deering to 4-5 in the process.

“The guys haven’t gotten down and they believe and when you believe, good things happen,” said Falmouth coach Deron Barton. “It was a good game all around and I think we just wanted it more.”

Turning it around

Falmouth and Portland/Deering are accustomed to being in the playoff hunt and each team is in contention this winter, even though both have struggled at times.

Falmouth is off to its roughest start this century. After a 6-2 home loss to Edward Little to start the season, the Yachtsmen edged visiting Scarborough in overtime, 3-2. Following a 5-1 loss at Bangor, Falmouth downed host South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete, 6-1, on Dec. 29, but prior to Saturday, the Yachtsmen hadn’t won since, losing at home to Greely (8-3), Yarmouth (3-2), two-time defending Class A state champion Lewiston (5-0), defending regional champion Biddeford (3-2) and Thornton Academy (2-1)

Portland/Deering also started with a loss to Edward Little, 3-0, on the road, then it downed host South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (6-2) and Marshwood (7-1). Following a 3-2 home loss to Cheverus, Portland/Deering handled visiting SP/Freeport/Waynflete (3-0) and Massabesic (6-1), then lost at home to Lewiston (4-0) and at Biddeford (4-1).

Saturday, Portland/Deering looked to beat the Yachtsmen for the first time since Jan. 10, 2004 (2-1), but instead, Falmouth prevailed for the 16th straight time in the series.

The Yachtsmen came out determined and were rewarded just 55 seconds in, as Baker backhanded a pass from freshman Charlie Adams past Portland/Deering freshman goalie Ryan Becker for a 1-0 lead.

Baker struck again with 11:22 to play in the first period (with Drummy getting an assist), this time one-timing the puck into the net to make it 2-0.

Portland/Deering coach Jeff Beaney chose to use his timeout at that early juncture and it had its desired effect, as the hosts awakened and began peppering Falmouth sophomore goalie Sam Kidder.

Portland/Deering finally broke through with 5:50 left in the first, when Nicholas Becker scored (senior Cam Clifford and freshman Carlos Braceras were credited with assists).

“I think I had to use (the timeout) at that point,” Beaney said. “We weren’t ready to play and they had a good game plan. We haven’t had many good practices lately with the flu on the team, but it’s not really an excuse.” 

Portland/Deering went on the power play late in the period, but couldn’t convert and the Yachtsmen held a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.

Portland/Deering had another play early in the second period, but again couldn’t finish.

Kidder then did his best to keep Falmouth ahead, denying sophomore Dante Tocci and robbing Luce, but with 3:53 remaining in the period, the hosts drew even, as Luce set up Lewandowski to make it 2-2.

Portland/Deering had a chance to go on top when Drummy was sent to the penalty box for tripping with 1:45 on the second period clock, but couldn’t convert.

Portland/Deering started the third period on the power play as well, but again, couldn’t take the lead.

The Yachtsmen then had a man-advantage with 11:28 to go and nearly fell behind when Clifford intercepted a Kidder clearing pass, but Clifford couldn’t manage a shot on an open net.

With 9:01 remaining, Portland/Deering went on the power play again and this time, it not only failed to score, but it surrendered the go-ahead tally in shorthanded fashion.

With 7:31 to play, after Baker forced a turnover and passed ahead to Drummy, Drummy raced in one-on-one with Becker and fired a shot into the net for a 3-2 Falmouth lead.

“I just walked in, saw the top shelf and I just shot it and it went in,” Drummy said. 

“(Owen’s) a special player,” Barton said.  “He’s in the right spot at the right time. Things you can’t teach.”

Drummy struck again on the breakaway with 5:07 on the clock, as this time, Adams forced the turnover and set up his teammate and Drummy had his shot deflected by Becker, but the goalie couldn’t keep it out of the net and the Yachtsmen were up, 4-2.

“I just went to the back end and hit the goalie,” Drummy said. “I thought it wouldn’t go in for a second, but luckily it did.”

“Both of those breakaway goals were amazing defensive zone plays, one by Tyler and one by Charlie,” Barton said.

Portland/Deering fought hard to the end and with Becker pulled for an extra attacker, Luce rebounded a shot by senior Donnie Tocci past Kidder to cut the deficit to 4-3 with 1:12 left.

Portland/Deering wasn’t able to extend the game, however, as after a timeout, Falmouth managed to run out the clock and celebrate its win.

“It feels great,” Drummy said. “It was a great team win. Everybody worked hard. Hopefully now we’ll start a win streak. We just kept the wheels going and played hard. Everybody contributed and no one let down.”

“I’m proud of the kids tonight,” Barton said. “Short bench, a lot of special teams. That always taxes the gas tank, but we’re a well-conditioned group.”

Portland/Deering had a 24-16 shots advantage, but Kidder stopped 21 of them. The hosts were 0-for-4 on the power play and got 12 saves from Becker.

“Our power play hasn’t been good all year,” Beaney said. “They don’t understand the concept of moving the puck. It’s something we have to figure out moving forward. With a power play, our record would be significantly different.”

No gimmes

Portland/Deering (third in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) returns to action Thursday at Cheverus. Home games with Lake Region and Bangor follow.

“The big thing is getting healthy and working on a couple of things that we need to continue to work on,” Beaney said. “It’s a good group of kids, but not everyone is on the same page right now.

“The goal is to shoot for a home playoff game and then get up to Lewiston. I do think it’s a coin flip at the end of the year. Whoever is playing well at the right time and is getting the goalkeeping will get it done.”

Falmouth (seventh and climbing in the region) is idle until next Saturday, when it plays at Thornton Academy. Home games against Cheverus and Bangor follow.

‘This is huge for us and hopefully we’ll keep the momentum going and take it into the next game,” Drummy said.

“We needed this game,” Barton said. “This sets the stage for the last third of the season for us. The team that gets hot in a single elimination tournament has the best chance and we hope that’s us. For the first time in a long time, we don’t have a target on our backs and the pressure is on everyone else. That’s nice.”

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

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