PORTLAND—All the pieces were in place for the Portland/Deering boys’ hockey team to earn a key early season victory Thursday afternoon at Troubh Ice Arena against the newly-formed Biddeford/Old Orchard Beach/Massabesic (BOOM) co-op squad.

Portland/Deering erased a pair of early deficits and thanks to goals from juniors Danny Tocci, Nick McGonagle and Nick Becker, held a 3-2 lead late in regulation.

But BOOM delivered the boom with 44.6 seconds left, as freshman Jamie Sperlich scored on a rocket to tie the score and force overtime.

There, Portland/Deering again appeared primed to win, when a five-minute penalty allowed the Bulldogs to finish on the power play, but the winning goal never came and making matters worse, Portland/Deering didn’t even escape with a tie, as with 29.8 seconds left in OT, freshman Collin Scully scored for BOOM and gave the visitors a stunning 4-3 victory.

It was the first win in BOOM program history, evened the squad’s record at 1-1-1 and in the process, dropped Portland/Deering to 1-3 on the season.

“It’s a learning situation,” said Portland/Deering coach Jeff Beaney. “I’m learning a lot about these guys, but as you can see, we have a lot of fight. The kids are very resilient. By practice tomorrow, they’ll forget about it and be good.”


Starting over

Last winter, Portland/Deering and Biddeford were the last two teams standing in Class A South, with the Tigers eking out a 3-2 decision in the regional final before losing to St. Dom’s in the state game.

The offseason was interesting for both programs, as Biddeford became a co-op with Massabesic and Old Orchard Beach, while Portland/Deering nearly joined up with Cheverus before that idea was squashed and the Stags remained a stand-alone program.

Portland/Deering opened its 2019-20 campaign with losses at home to Thornton Academy (2-0) and to South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (5-0). The Bulldogs then beat visiting Old Town/Orono (4-3).

BOOM, meanwhile, started by playing visiting Falmouth to a 3-3 tie, then falling at home to Lewiston (7-1).

Thursday, Portland/Deering hoped to avenge its playoff loss, but fell just short.

The hosts had the first couple chances, but McGonagle was denied by BOOM sophomore goalie Gavin Sperlich and Becker missed wide.


BOOM then struck first with 11:12 to go in the opening period, as senior Aiden Russell scored on a rebound of a shot from freshman Caden Petit which Portland/Deering sophomore goalie Ryan Becker had initially saved.

Portland/Deering tried to answer with 6:48 left in the first, but Tocci was denied by Gavin Sperlich in close.

Ryan Becker then kept the deficit at one with a terrific save with 3:55 on the clock, as after denying an initial shot by junior Nick Reissfelder, Becker, on his back, swept his left arm out to deny a rebound shot from junior Trevor Ouellette.

After Sperlich again denied Tocci, the game went to the first intermission with BOOM on top, 1-0.

Portland/Deering came out with renewed energy in the second period and tied things up.



After Becker kept it 1-0 by denying Ouellette and sophomore Aiden Gosselin, Portland/Deering drew even with 8:34 left in the second period, as Tocci took a pass from junior Max Cheever and one-timed the puck into the net (senior Miki Silva was also credited with an assist).

After Tocci missed just wide and McGonagle was robbed by Sperlich on a breakaway, Portland/Deering went on the power play and appeared to take the lead with 6:11 left in the period, as Cheever fed senior Whit Steele for a tip-in, but after consultation, the goal was waved off because the net had been moved off its mooring.

Making matters worse for the hosts, BOOM then got a goal which counted with 4:21 to go, as Reissfelder set up Ouellette to make it 2-1.

Sperlich then denied McGonagle twice to allow BOOM to take that one-goal advantage to the second intermission.

Portland/Deering then completely dominated the third period and got itself to the brink of victory, but couldn’t close it out.

It took just 91 seconds for the Bulldogs to tie it up, as McGonagle did the honors (from sophomore Carlos Braceras and Silva).


Then, after Sperlich saved go-ahead bids by McGonagle and Cheever, Portland/Deering went on top, 3-2, with 2:45 remaining, as a Cheever blast from up top was tipped home by Nick Becker.

BOOM coach Jason Tremblay called timeout and Sperlich took a seat on the bench for an extra attacker.

That paid off with 44.6 seconds left, as on a rush, senior Kurtis Morin passed to Jamie Sperlich on the left wing and from just inside the blue line, Sperlich ripped a shot that Ryan Becker couldn’t handle and the game was even for a third time, 3-3.

“These guys are dogs,” Scully said. “We go really hard. We had a game plan and we were ready to roll with the guys we had.”

“We hadn’t moved the puck very well, but on the tying goal, we moved it well on the perimeter and Jamie came down the pike and fired a bomb,” Tremblay said. “He’s played great as a freshman.”

“That tying goal shouldn’t have happened,” said Beaney. “Carlos got hurt. I was trying to get him off the ice and he couldn’t get to where he needed to be.”


Neither team managed a shot from there and the contest went to overtime.

In high school hockey, teams play an eight-minute, “sudden victory” session and if no one scores, the game goes into the books as a tie.

That loomed as a possibility, but an ever bigger likelihood was a Portland/Deering victory.

When all was said and done, however, Portland/Deering suffered a painful defeat instead.

Early in OT, Steele was denied, then Portland/Deering went on the power play, but Cheever had a shot blocked and Tocci’s bid was denied by Gavin Sperlich.

With 5:06 remaining, McGonagle had a shot saved, then Tocci pounced on the rebound looking to end it, only to see Sperlich make perhaps his best save.


Momentum swung Portland/Deering’s way again with 4:15 to go, as Jamie Sperlich drove McGonagle into the boards from behind and was given a five-minute penalty.

That meant that Portland/Deering had a man-advantage the rest of the way and a golden opportunity to win it.

Cheever had a couple bids for the victory, but each was saved, then Tocci missed wide and Steele hit the post.

With 1:47 on the clock, Steele and Morin were sent off for matching penalties and 20 seconds later, Tocci had one more chance to end it, but his shot was saved.

Just when a tie appeared to be the likely conclusion, BOOM won it in shocking fashion.

After a turnover, Ouellette got the puck to Scully, who sent it past Ryan Becker and with 29.8 seconds showing, BOOM had a 4-3 win.


“Trevor gave me an awesome pass and I had a really good opportunity and that’s about it,” said Scully. “It was awesome. I was really excited for the team.”

“We knew Portland would stick with their five guys on the power play and we made probably three changes and sometimes, you get really fatigued and we took a chance,” Tremblay said. “It’s our first win as a program. We played poorly in spurts and we played well in spurts. I’m happy. It’s early in the season and we’re just coming together. It’s a whole new feeling from the last few years. We’ve got four or five guys from each school representing out there. We didn’t quit. I’m proud that we worked hard and battled.”

“The problem is we lost Braceras to an injury, so we were down to three (forwards), then they called an iffy matching penalty and we were down to two,” Beaney said. “We had chances on the power play even though it wasn’t a situation personnel-wise we practiced with. Tocci had been on five or six minutes straight. I rolled the dice and that’s my fault.”

Portland/Deering had a 35-15 advantage in shots and got 11 saves from Ryan Becker, but fell short.

BOOM got 32 saves from Gavin Sperlich.

Road trip

BOOM looks to make it two wins in a row when it returns to Troubh Ice Arena Saturday to meet South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport.


“We’re bonding and getting to know each other,” Scully said. “This will jolt us forward pretty good. We’ll go uphill from here.”

“We have five, six freshmen playing right now and our older guys are working hard,” Tremblay said. “It’s a long season. Class A is one group this year and to be honest, 10 teams could make a run. We just have to play well in February.”

Portland/Deering, meanwhile, makes the long trip north to Bangor Saturday looking to get back on track.

“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” said Beaney. “No one predicted us to win more than four games and if we play like this, we’ll win our share. This game compared to our first game is night and day. I’m excited.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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