Two years after an agonizing loss in the Class A state final, Scarborough’s boys’ hockey team will get another opportunity to win the championship.

Cape Elizabeth and the South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete co-op squad weren’t as fortunate.

Instant classic

Scarborough endured two different three-game losing streaks this year, only finished 9-8-1 and entered the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in Class A, but wound up fighting its way back to the state final.

The Red Storm got pushed to the brink by No. 10 Portland/Deering in last Wednesday’s Class A state preliminary round but managed to advance in overtime.

Sam Rumelhart scored an early goal, but Portland/Deering tied it, 1-1, after one period. Scarborough then appeared poised to win it easily, as Olin Pedersen scored twice and Jordan Sheppard and Rumelhart also tickled the twine for a 5-1 lead late in the second period, but Portland/Deering got a late power play goal, then scored three times in the third period, including the tying tally in the final minute, to force overtime.

And there, it was freshman Wyatt Grondin playing the hero, scoring, from Rumelhart, a couple minutes into OT for a 6-5 victory.


“(Sam) got caught down low, then dropped it middle and I just finished it,” Grondin said.

“We kind of let up a little bit there,” Rumelhart said. “They didn’t stop. They kept battling.”

“I’m just proud of how the team came together and finished and didn’t let the late penalty get to us,” added Scarborough’s first-year coach Eric Wirsing. “We knew they would come back and give us a fight, and they really did.”

Red Storm goalie Keegan Weed finished with 21 saves, more than half of them in the frenetic third period after seeing only three shots in the second.

“It was a tough game for Keegan to find a rhythm just because of how infrequent sometimes the opportunities were,” Wirsing said. “But he made some big saves toward the end of the game when we really needed him to and gave us a chance to win.”

As a reward for beating Portland/Deering, Scarborough had to make the long trip north to battle No. 2 Bangor in the quarterfinals last Friday, and this time, the Red Storm advanced with a little more ease, 4-2. Rumelhart scored three goals, including the go-ahead tally, and assisted on a goal by Grondin.


SP/Freeport/Waynflete, meanwhile, earned the No. 3 seed in Class A, and two years after making it to state semifinals for the first time, would find their way back.

The squad had no trouble with No. 14 St. Dom’s in the state preliminary round last Wednesday, prevailing, 5-1, as Dylan Hannan scored two goals, and Cullen Adams, Ian Wright and Brady Frank added one apiece.

In last Friday’s state quarterfinal round, versus visiting No. 6 seed Lake Region/Fryeburg/Oxford Hills, Joey Soucy and Adams had early goals and after Lake Region rallied to tie it, Richie Gilboy scored on the power play 50 seconds into the third period and that was enough to produce a 3-2 victory.

That set up the Scarborough-SP/Freeport/Waynflete state semifinal round showdown Tuesday at the Cross Insurance Arena.

The Red Storm won the first regular season meeting, 2-1, Jan. 20 in Portland. The teams then tied, 1-1, Feb. 19 in Gorham. This time around, Scarborough prevailed again, but it took more than 45 minutes.

South Portland’s Richard Gilboy tries to slow down Scarborough’s Jack Matthews during the Red Storm’s 5-4 double-overtime win in Tuesday’s Class A state semifinals. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

After a scoreless first period, Scarborough opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the second, when Jack Matthews scored on the power play, beating SP/Freeport/Waynflete goalie Jasper Curtis. But SP/Freeport/Waynflete answered at 3:59 of the period, as Tobey Lappin finished. Then, just over a minute later, junior Roan Hopkins ripped a long shot past Weed for a 2-1 lead, which carried to the third period.


And there, SP/Freeport/Waynflete went up by two goals 47 seconds in, when Wright scored on the power play.

“The first time we played them, our forecheck was different, and the second time, we played them on their big rink, but this time, we just stuck with our 2-1-2 and went at them hard,” said SP/Freeport/Waynflete coach Joe Robinson. “We just put pressure on.”

But Scarborough is nothing if not resilient and battled back.

First, sophomore Pedersen spun and finished at 1:24 of the third.

Then, at 6:22, Billy Mahoney’s short-handed goal tied it.

With 5:03 to play, a fortuitous bounce put the puck on the stick of Matthews right in front and he finished to suddenly put the Red Storm ahead, but SP/Freeport/Waynflete had a comeback in it as well, and just 23 seconds remaining, Hopkins scored for the second time.


Neither team would score the remainder of regulation and the contest went to an eight-minute, “sudden-victory” overtime session.

Where, despite good chances each ways, neither squad was able to end it.

So the game went to a second overtime and there, 3:21 in, Grondin played the hero for the second time this postseason, banging home a loose puck at the far post to give Scarborough a palpitating 5-4 victory.

Scarborough celebrates after beating South Portland/Freeport/Waynfelte 5-4 in double overtime in the Class A semifinals. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

“I was just trying to hang out backdoor because I just wanted to be there and the puck came right to me and finished it,” Grondin said. “It was crazy.”

“It was fun,” said Weed, who stopped 26 shots. “It was a great experience. As soon as we got into overtime, I knew we’d win it. I’m not sure there was much of a difference. That’s a very good team over there. Some very talented hockey players. All-around great athletes. Props to their goalie, too. He saved them on multiple occasions.”

“We just had to stay the course,” Wirsing added. “We know it’s a 45-minute game, or more in some cases, and we had to take advantage of every moment we had.”


Scarborough improved to 12-8-1, ended SP/Freeport/Waynflete’s fine season at 13-7-1 and advanced to battle No. 5 Thornton Academy (15-5) in the Class A state final at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Scarborough will seek its third championship Saturday in its sixth all-time state final appearance.

Scarborough lost twice to Thornton Academy this winter, 6-0 at home back on Dec. 30 and 2-1 in Biddeford on Feb. 2. The Red Storm have taken three of four prior playoff encounters, with a 7-1 victory in the 2014 Western A semifinals the most recent.

The Golden Trojans upset top-ranked Edward Little, 2-1, in their state semifinal Tuesday, so Saturday’s contest figures to be another hard-fought affair, but Scarborough is hopeful it will finish the job it started two years ago.

“It’s going to be huge,” Grondin said. “I’m super psyched. We have some good momentum going. If we keep that up, we can keep (winning).”

“We’re well-coached and Sam’s a great captain who leads us,” Weed said. “We’re a very strong team together. I don’t think we’d make it this far without that. TA looked very good tonight. If we get scored on, we have to fire back like we did tonight. We’ll try to finish it off.”


“I’m just happy to be able to play again on Saturday,” Wirsing added. “The kids have bought in and it’s shown by us getting an opportunity to play for a state championship. TA is a very good team. We’ve had a couple tough games with them. We know it will take a huge effort to come out with a ‘W.’ We get to show up to the rink a couple more days and I couldn’t be more excited to do it. I’m having the time of my life.”

SP/Freeport/Waynflete had a 30-23 shots advantage and got 18 saves from Curtis but, ultimately, fell agonizingly shy of a first-ever trip to the state game.

“It was kind of a roller-coaster season,” Robinson said. “We came out strong, had a lapse in the middle, then finished strong and battled through the playoffs. We battled through this game. I’m really proud of how the guys responded. I can’t look at the team and say we didn’t leave it all out there. I can’t fault the effort and heart from the puck drop until the end.

“We have a lot of heart. That’s the lesson to be learned out of this game, is to take that with you through life. Things get bad sometimes, but don’t quit, lean on your friends, your teammates and your family and have faith in yourself and keep going. We had chances. It just didn’t happen. I told the guys not to hang their heads. When you leave it all out there, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I told them I’m proud of them and happy to be their coach. It’s a great group of guys.”

The majority of this year’s squad will be back next season, when perhaps SP/Freeport/Waynflete will take that final step.

“We’re still in good shape,” Robinson said. “We have a good squad coming back. We lose some key pieces, but we have a solid core for sure. It’s something to look forward to.”


Familiar refrain

After losing to Greely in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 regional finals, Cape Elizabeth hoped for a different result this winter.

The Capers got a different result, sort of, as this time, the loss to the Rangers came in the Class B South semifinals.

Cape Elizabeth, ranked fifth in the region, blanked No. 4 Leavitt, 5-0, as Connor Goss, Colin Blackburn, Dimitre Coupe, Patrick Lee and Sebastian Moon all scored.

“I think that’s the testament of our guys’ maturity level and the lessons we learned throughout the season,” Capers coach Jacob Rutt said. “We stuck to kind of what worked and we grinded them down – our depth got the best of them. Credit to (the Kings), they kept it close for a long time.”

Cape Elizabeth then traveled to Greely Saturday for the semifinals and managed to score just once, Coupe did the honors, but the Capers surrendered three goals and finished 10-7-1.

Press Herald staff writer Glenn Jordan and Sun Journal staff writer Nathan Fournier contributed to this story.

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