YARMOUTH—Isaac Grondin’s freshman hockey season was derailed by injuries.

Now a sophomore, Grondin is hitting his stride and Yarmouth’s boys’ squad is reaping the benefits.

Monday afternoon at Travis Roy Arena, facing rival Cape Elizabeth, Grondin broke a tie with a tremendous individual play and as a result, the Clippers’ win streak is now at four games.

After a scoreless first period, Yarmouth went on top on sophomore Matt Robichaud’s power play goal early in the second (Grondin got the assist), but a power play goal from Capers’ senior Matt Laughlin in the final minute tied the score.

With the game still deadlocked with just under 10 minutes to play in the third period and the Clippers killing a penalty, Grondin turned the tide with an unassisted, short-handed goal which put Yarmouth on top to stay.

Moments later, senior Will Giese scored an insurance goal, which loomed large, as the Capers got a rebound goal from senior Jonas Moon with 3:41 left.

Cape Elizabeth even had an opportunity to play 6-on-4 in the final minute, but the Clippers managed to hold on and prevail, 3-2.

Yarmouth improved to 6-3 and in the process dropped the Capers to 2-8.

“The whole team has been stepping up and we’ve been clicking,” Grondin said. “We can compete with any team and we believe that in the locker room. That’s been coming across the past few games.”

Coming of age

Yarmouth is a young squad this winter, but the Clippers have hit their stride since the calendar flipped. Yarmouth opened with a 6-2 victory at Waterville, then was blanked at defending Class B champion Greely (2-0) and at South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (3-0). After a 2-0 home win over Kennebunk, the Clippers were blanked by visiting Falmouth (3-0), then put it all together with victories at Leavitt (1-0), at home over York (3-1) and at home over Brunswick (3-0).

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, has also shown improvement. The Capers started with losses at Brunswick (3-1), at home to Thornton Academy (6-2) and at home to Greely (6-1). After a 6-2 home win over Leavitt, Cape Elizabeth fell at home to Presque Isle (7-2) and at Cheverus (6-3). After a 5-2 win at York, the Capers fell at South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete in overtime (3-2) and at Kennebunk (3-1).

Last year, Cape Elizabeth won all three meetings: 2-1 at home, 7-1 at Yarmouth and 2-0 in the Class B South quarterfinals.

Monday, the Capers hoped to make it five in a row in the series, but the Clippers beat Cape Elizabeth for the first time since a 4-1 victory in the 2017 Class B South quarterfinals.

The Capers had a 6-5 edge in shots in the first period, but neither team could put the puck in the net.

Cape Elizabeth freshman Nick Laughlin had an early chance which was turned aside by Yarmouth sophomore Charles Henry Watson and Clippers’ freshman Truman Peters’ bid was saved by Capers’ freshman goalie Charlie Garvin.

Yarmouth had a golden opportunity to go on top midway through the opening period, when Giese won the puck and skated in free on Garvin, but the goalie made the huge save.

Play and scoring then picked up in a penalty-plagued second period.

Afetr killing a penalty, the Clippers went on the power play with 11:49 left and just eight seconds later, Robichaud beat Garvin, with Grondin getting credit for the assist.

Watson protected the lead by denying senior Andrew Carroll and freshman Connor Goss and after a shot by Moon grazed the top of the crossbar and sailed high, it appeared Yarmouth would get out of the period with the lead, but Cape Elizabeth went on the power play with 1:48 to go and after Watson saved a shot by junior Jack Pellechia, junior Gavin Simopoulos set up Matt Laughlin for the tying goal with 38.1 seconds remaining and the teams went to the locker room deadlocked, 1-1.

The Capers began the third period on the power play, but couldn’t capitalize, as Carroll was denied by Watson.

With 9:49 remaining in regulation, Cape Elizabeth went on the power play again, but 12 seconds later, Grondin struck, winning the puck, racing in and beating Garvin to give the Clippers a 2-1 advantage.

“Just getting out and playing this year feels good,” said Grondin. “It’s fun with the team. We’re having a blast. I was able to cover the puck and the defense looked flat-footed and I was able to put it again. That was huge, but we still had to battle the rest of the game.”

“Isaac was hurt and only played one game freshman year and it’s tough for a young athlete to get injured like that and find his game,” said Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre. “He’s finally getting back to what he’s comfortable with and it’s showing on the ice. We’ve talked about having a culture of coming together as a unit, being a family. We took a tough penalty in that situation and Isaac put the team on his back and went on and won it for us.”

“It was a good play by (Grondin),” said Capers’ coach Jake Rutt. “We had to take away space. He made us pay. That’s what good players do.”

After Watson preserved the lead with a save on a shot by Matt Laughlin, the Clippers got some breathing room with 6:34 to go, as senior Spencer King set up Giese for a 3-1 lead.

“Will is a good senior leader and that was a great shot,” St. Pierre said. “He’s been solid for us for all year. He’s a cornerstone for us.”

Back roared the Capers with 3:41 to go, as Moon scored on a rebound (freshmen Nate Patterson and Nick Laughlin were given assists) to cut the deficit to 3-2.

From there, Yarmouth had to hang on for dear life, especially after Cape Elizabeth went on the power play one final time with 1:04 on the lock.

The Capers pulled Garvin and looked for the equalizer, but Carroll was denied by Watson and Moon’s rebound sailed high. then with 4.2 seconds to go, Watson snared Simpoulos’ shot.

The Clippers were able to kill the remaining time and celebrated their hard-fought, one-goal victory.

“We were just focusing on making every play, laying our bodies on the line,” Grondin said. “Spencer made a huge block in the final seconds. The bench was wild. It was a great team effort. Tons of credit to Charles Henry. Everyone is giving it all they have every shift.”

“A rivalry game like that is always a battle to the end,” St. Pierre said. “To Cape’s credit, they never quit. It’s a nice win for us. We expected they’d come at us hard. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy finish. We played well in our zone and took care of pucks when we needed to and held on. We’re a team that has to win tight games.”

Cape Elizabeth finished with a 28-21 advantage in shots on goal.

Watson made 26 saves, while Garvin stopped 18.

“The whole game, I thought we had the better of play, like a lot of games this year, but we couldn’t get shots to go in,” Rutt lamented.

Second half

The second half of the regular season is here and while the Capers and Clippers will battle again Feb. 6 in Yarmouth, each squad has some big tests to pass to first.

Cape Elizabeth (now eighth in the Class B South Heal Points standings, where seven teams make the playoffs) goes to Portland/Deering Thursday, then hosts Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon Feb. 1.

“It’s been frustrating, but kudos to our leaders,” Rutt said. “We’ll be there in the end. The biggest goal is to get in the tournament and go from there. We just have to finish a couple more plays. That’s all it comes down to. With a young team, we have to learn hard lessons. We’re learning the hard way.”

Yarmouth (now ranked fourth in Class B South) is back in action Saturday at home versus Gorham. The Clippers then go to Gorham and to defending Class A champion St. Dom’s.

“We just have to keep coming to practice and giving it all we can,” said Grondin.

“We still have things to fix, but I like the progress we’ve made so far,” St. Pierre said. “Class B South is always tough. We played Greely tough earlier and we look forward to getting another crack at them. We’re focused right now on working on our things (we need to improve).”

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


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