The South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete boys’ hockey team celebrates one of its five goals in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Scarborough.

Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

PORTLAND—Joe Robinson, the coach of the South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete co-op boys’ hockey team, feels that his squad has underachieved this winter.

But Saturday afternoon, the Red Riots showed signs that they’re going to reach their potential and that’s bad news for the rest of the hotly contested Class A South region.

SP/Freeport/Waynflete rode strong special teams play and timely-goal scoring to frustrate visiting Scarborough at Troubh Ice Arena.

The Red Riots took a 1-0 lead with 1:13 to play in the first period, when sophomore Bradley McMains scored on the power play.

In the second period, SP/Freeport/Waynflete scored twice more on the power play, but it was off the Red Storm’s power play, as first freshman Cullen Adams, then senior Mitchell Adams scored shorthanded goals for a 3-0 lead.

Scarborough roared back when it got a power play goal from junior Cam Budway and freshman Sam Rumelhart to pull within 3-2 with 51.2 seconds remaining in the second period, but Mitchell Adams restored momentum with a pivotal goal 22 seconds later.

The Red Storm weren’t able to rally in the third period and one final goal, from junior Eric Walker, gave the Red Riots a 5-2 victory.

SP/Freeport/Waynflete produced four different goal scorers and evened its record at 6-6 and dropped Scarborough to 5-5-1 in the process.

“This is a huge win for us,” Robinson said. “That was probably the most complete game we’ve put together since we beat TA right before Christmas. We’ve underachieved as a whole, but the talent’s there and when it clicks, we can play with anybody. Hopefully, going into February, when it really counts, this is where we start taking it to the level we thought we’d be at going into the season.” 

Everyone has a shot

Class A South is there for the taking this winter and both teams are looking to make a deep playoff run.

Scarborough, which missed the playoffs last season for the first time in a quarter-century, has returned to form this winter.

The Red Storm dropped a 3-2 overtime decision at Falmouth to start the year, but followed with wins at Edward Little (3-0), at home over Marshwood (4-1) and at Massabesic (1-0). After a 4-3 setback at St. Dom’s, Scarborough blanked visiting Kennebunk (6-0), settled for a 2-2 home tie against Yarmouth, then edged visiting Gorham (2-1). Last week wasn’t kind to the Red Storm, however, as they lost at home to Thornton Academy (6-3) and at defending regional champion Biddeford (3-2).

South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete, meanwhile, started with wins at Lake Region (6-1) and at home over York (10-5). After home losses to Portland/Deering (6-2) and Massabesic (4-1), a 5-4 overtime win at Thornton Academy, a 6-1 home loss to Falmouth and a 3-0 setback at Portland/Deering, SP/Freeport/Waynflete gave Robinson his 100th victory with an 8-2 home win over Windham/Westbrook. After a 5-3 loss at Cape Elizabeth, the squad fell at home to Cheverus (4-1), then won Wednesday at Windham/Westbrook, 9-0.

Entering play Saturday, Scarborough held a 7-3 edge dating to the start of the century (see sidebar, below), but last season, it was SP/Freeport/Waynflete prevailing, 4-1.

This time around, the Red Riots did it again.

SP/Freeport/Waynflete had the first chance, with the teams playing 4-on-4, as Walker stole the puck and raced in on Scarborough junior goalie Caleb Sellinger, but Sellinger made the save.

After Sellinger denied Mitchell Adams, the Red Riots earned a 5-on-3 opportunity, as with 3:55 to go in the first period, Red Storm junior Dawson Gendreau was sent off for five minutes for boarding and junior Ethan Jasa earned a two-minute penalty for hooking.

Sellinger momentarily kept the game scoreless by denying McMains and junior Willets Meyer, then saving bids from junior Gus Lappin, Meyer again and junior Deven Hannan.

Finally, with 1:13 to go in the first period, SP/Freeport/Waynflete got the game’s first goal as McMains scored, with junior Austin Gross earning an assist.

Offense would show up big-time in a wild and woolly second period.

Scarborough appeared to get a break with 12:46 left, when Meyer was sent to the penalty box for interference, but it would be the Red Riots capitalizing, going up, 2-0, when Cullen Adams stole the puck, then sent a backhanded shot past Sellinger with 11:04 on the clock.

As soon as Meyer’s penalty expired, SP/Freeport/Waynflete sophomore Harry Millspaugh had to go to the penalty box for tripping, but with 9:07 left in the period, Mitchell Adams stole the puck and sent it through Sellinger’s pads for another shorthanded tally and a 3-0 lead.

“Our special teams were terrific tonight,” Robinson said. “There doesn’t seem to be very much 5-on-5 hockey anymore, but that’s a story for another day. (Scoring short-handed) was a huge lift. I’m not sure we’ve ever (scored two short-handed goals in a game). My forwards used their speed tonight. They jumped and they never let up.” 

“We’ve been really solid 5-on-5 this year,” said Red Storm coach Jacob Brown. “We haven’t let up a lot of 5-on-5 goals, but we show our youth and inexperience on special teams. They just outworked us.” 

Brown called timeout and the visitors would respond.

Midway through the second period, Hannan went to the penalty box for cross-checking and this time, Scarborough took advantage on the power play, pulling within 3-1 when Gendreau set up Budway for a shot that Red Riots’ junior goalie Sebastian Couturier couldn’t save.

Then, with 51.2 seconds to go, Rumelhart scored unassisted and it appeared the Red Storm would take all the momentum to the second intermission.

Instead, Mitchell Adams struck with 29.2 seconds to go, rebounding a McMains shot past Sellinger and SP/Freeport/Waynflete was up, 4-2, heading to the third period.

“It feels great to get back and play,” said Adams, who missed much of the season with a knee injury. “That was a big momentum shift. They were confident, but we took advantage. That goal got the boys going pretty good. I was just in the right spot at the right time. We got good pressure down low, got the puck deep and I was there to pop it in.”

“We’ve missed Mitchell a lot,” Robinson said. “This is his third game and he played a period of another game. He had an MCL sprain, but he has a brace on it and he seems fine.”

Scarborough had three more power play chances in the third period, but remained frustrated.

With 1:17 remaining, Red Storm sophomore Zach Chaisson broke in on Couturier and had a golden opportunity to make it a one-goal game, but he lost his footing at the last second.

The Red Riots then clinched it 12 seconds later at the other end, as Walker scored (from Meyer) and that accounted for the 5-2 final score.

“(Scarborough’s) worth a lot of (Heal Points),” Mitchell Adams said. “We wanted to beat them and we just did that. We just really emphasize getting the puck in on offense and playing good defense. They can’t score if the puck’s in their zone, so we tried to control it as much as possible.”

“(Scarborough) didn’t quit and I told the guys they couldn’t let up,” Robinson said. “No lead is safe.”

SP/Freeport/Waynflete enjoyed a 26-20 edge in shots on goal and got 18 saves from Couturier.

Scarborough went 1-for-8 on the power play and got 21 saves from Sellinger.

“I think they came in and wanted to play physical and they had some big hits and I thought then we didn’t want to get into the battle,” Brown said. “There were some loose pucks we should have jumped on and some battles on the wall we didn’t compete enough on.

“I thought we didn’t give up. The bench was engaged all game. We just weren’t hungry enough to put the puck in the net. We didn’t test their goalie nearly enough.”

Every game counts

The teams will play again Feb. 16 in Gorham, but in the meantime, each squad has some big tests.

Scarborough (currently fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) plays at Thornton Academy Tuesday, visits Cheverus Thursday and welcomes Lake Region Saturday.

“Every game has been pretty close this year and a lot of one-goal games make us a better team, win or lose,” Brown said. “I think the big thing is we have to stick together. It’s easy when you’re winning, but when you’re not, it’s harder. We have to get our compete level higher. We defend well and have good structure, but we have to get hungry on the loose pucks.

“The number one seed that Biddeford has right now everyone wants because you get a bye. It’ll come down to who can stay healthy, who has good goaltending at the end. We all just want to get in. It’s anyone’s game come playoff-time.”

SP/Waynflete/Freeport (which moved up from seventh to sixth in Class A South with the victory) is at Lewiston Wednesday, hosts Thornton Academy Thursday and welcomes Marshwood next Saturday. 

“We know anyone can beat anyone,” Mitchell Adams said. “We have to play smart and play simple hockey and good things will happen.”

“This is a very big week,” Robinson said. “I told the guys you can’t back into the playoffs. You have to control your own destiny. When you control your own destiny and you succeed, it feels so much better than depending on other teams.”

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

Scarborough sophomore Zach Chaisson is sent flying by SP/Freeport/Waynflete junior Willets Meyer.

Scarborough junior Cam Budway tries to slow up SP/Freeport/Waynflete sophomore Bradley McMains.

SP/Freeport/Waynflete senior Mitchell Adams pokes home a rebound past Scarborough junior goalie Caleb Sellinger.

Adams celebrates his goal which put SP/Freeport/Waynflete ahead, 4-2, late in the second period.

SP/Freeport/Waynflete junior Eric Walker, left, is congratulated by sophomore Bradley McMains after scoring the final goal of the game.

Recent Scarborough-South Portland results

@ South Portland 4 Scarborough 1

@ Scarborough 5 South Portland 1

@ Scarborough 11 South Portland 0

@ Scarborough 6 South Portland 0
Scarborough 9 @ South Portland 2

@ Scarborough 3 South Portland 1
Scarborough 4 @ South Portland 0

@ Scarborough 3 South Portland 0

South Portland 3 @ Scarborough 2
@ South Portland 5 Scarborough 4 (OT)