It figured to be a challenging year for the Cheverus High boys’ hockey team.

After years of contending, the Stags found themselves with a small, young roster. Of their 15 players, six are sophomores, three are freshmen.

After a 2-7 start, the Stags won their second straight game, 6-5 over rival Portland/Deering on Thursday night at Troubh Arena.

Colby Anton completed his hat trick with the winning goal with one minute remaining.

Just 35 seconds earlier, Portland’s Jacob Luce recorded his hat trick, tying the game. The Bulldogs had come back from a two-goal deficit.

“Gave up a two-goal lead and it would have been easy to roll over,” said first-year Cheverus Coach Mike Carmody.

The Stags (4-7) have beaten their last two opponents – Lake Region/Fryeburg/Oxford Hills and the Bulldogs. Cheverus beat Portland 3-2 for the City Cup last month.

“It’s my first year in the rivalry. Fun to be a part of it,” Carmody said. “But I’d rather be playing in it. It’s a lot more stressful coaching.”

Portland (4-6) dropped its fourth straight game.

“We’ve been struggling about a week and a half, getting over some illness and flu,” Portland Coach Jeff Beaney said. “I thought we played well. We had a little trouble in the second period with turnovers inside the blue line.”

Portland also got goals from Mikias Silva and Don Tocci.

Jackson Wilson, Jackson Header and Colin Doherty also scored for Cheverus.

Alex Brewer, linemate with Anton and Wilson, had four assists.

“We all got speed. We’re coming together really nice,” said Brewer, one of two seniors, along with Anton. “We had a rough start but, in practices, we’ve been challenging each other, getting better.

“I knew it was going to take some time because we have a lot of young guys. But they’re bringing it along the second half.”

Cheverus got some separation in the second period with three goals for a 4-2 lead.

Tocci fired in a power-play goal at 4:57 to close the Bulldogs to 4-3.

But two penalties gave Cheverus a five-on-three, and Doherty scored at 6:21.

The Bulldogs kept coming – Silva scoring on a rebound at 9:39, and then tying it from outside the crease at 9:39.

But then the Bulldogs allowed Anton open, with the puck on his stick.

“I was coming across the middle,” Anton said. “I waited and waited and waited. Then the goalie went down and I went top shelf.”

Cheverus entered the game in eighth place in Class A South, one game out of the playoff spot; Portland was fourth.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Beaney said. “But, this year, the way the league is, you make the playoffs and you have a chance.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH

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