BOX SCORE

Thornton Academy 5 Scarborough 4 (3 OT)

TA- 1 1 1 1 0 0 1- 5
S- 1 1 1 1 0 0 0- 4

First period
7:32 TA Whitney (unassisted)
2:50 S Carlista (unassisted)

Second period
8:14 TA LeBlanc (unassisted)
2:29 S F. Pedersen (Carlista)

Third period
2:53 S F. Pedersen (unassisted)
1:01 TA Hubbard (unassisted)

Fourth period
9:29 TA Flynn (Raymond)
7:06 S F. Pedersen (Carlista) (MAN-UP)

First overtime
No scoring

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Second overtime
No scoring

Third overtime
1:21 TA St. John (unassisted)

Goals:
TA- Flynn, Hubbard, LeBlanc, St. John, Whitney 1
S- F. Pedersen 3, Carlista 1

Assists:
TA- Raymond 1
S- Carlista 2

Faceoffs (Thornton Academy, 8-5)
TA- Michaud 8 of 13
S- Rumelhart 5 of 13

Ground balls:
TA- 42
S- 38

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Turnovers:
TA- 28
S- 34

Shots:
TA- 41
S- 31

Shots on cage:
TA- 24
S- 11

Saves:
TA (Parenteau) 7
S (Kerbel) 19

SCARBOROUGH—Talk about two evenly matched teams.

Tuesday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, host Scarborough and rival Thornton Academy, two of the top squads in a deep and talented Class A South division, had nearly no separation for 48 minutes.

And far more than 48 minutes were required to ultimately determine a winner.

After Golden Trojans junior Hayden Whitney and Red Storm senior Jack Carlista traded goals, the score was tied, 1-1, after one quarter.

Thornton Academy junior Ethan LeBlanc and Scarborough senior Finn Pedersen then traded goals in the second period, so at the half, the score read, 2-2.

The theme continued in the third quarter, as Pedersen gave the Red Storm what proved to be their only lead of the night before junior Lucas Hubbard scored for the Golden Trojans to make it 3-3.

Thornton Academy went back on top with 9:29 to play, when senior Ronan Flynn, hero of the Golden Trojans’ win at Scarborough a year ago, scored, but with 7:06 left, Pedersen’s third goal of the night made it 4-4 and that’s how regulation would end.

Neither team would score in a four-minute, “sudden victory” overtime session.

A second OT didn’t produce a game-winning goal either.

Then, finally, with 1:21 left in the third extra session, senior Alex St. John beat Red Storm sophomore goalie extraordinaire Ben Kerbel to end it and give Thornton Academy an exhausting and exhilarating 5-4 victory.

The Golden Trojans won their sixth game in a row, improved to 7-1 and in the process, dropped Scarborough to 7-2.

“We’re dead-tired, but it was a good game,” St. John said. “The end was fun, but the whole game was tiring. It felt good to come here to beat them.”

What a region

The four best teams in Class A all appear to be concentrated in the South this season, with defending state champion Cape Elizabeth joined by resurgent South Portland, along with Scarborough and Thornton Academy.

That makes any game between the contenders a pivotal one.

The Red Storm opened their 2022 campaign with victories over visiting Marshwood (10-3), host Windham (13-8) and host Deering (22-1), then rallied for a 9-6 home win over South Portland and downed host Bonny Eagle (18-4).  Scarborough hung tough with visiting, reigning Class A champion Cape Elizabeth for three quarters before falling, 14-8, then bounced back at Gorham with a 12-7 victory before holding off visiting Brunswick Friday (10-8).

The Golden Trojans, meanwhile, opened with a 14-3 victory at Windham, then let a late lead slip away in an 11-10 loss at South Portland. After bouncing back with an impressive and stifling 4-1 win at Falmouth, Thornton Academy dominated Portland (17-3), Massabesic (20-0), Greely (11-2) and Marshwood (15-4).

Last year, the teams played three memorable games, as Scarborough opened with an 8-6 win at Saco, but Thornton Academy returned the favor on the road, blanking the Red Storm the final 29 minutes, then prevailing, 4-3, on Flynn’s goal with 3.6 seconds on the clock. Scarborough then took a Class A South quarterfinal round showdown, 9-6.

Tuesday, on a windy but otherwise pleasant evening (65 degrees at the start), goals would be at a premium in a game that would turn into a memorable marathon.

Scarborough senior Finn Pedersen carries the ball into Thornton Academy’s zone early in the Golden Trojans’ 5-4, triple-overtime win Tuesday. Hoffer photos.

The Golden Trojans had some good early pressure, but sophomore Jacob Marcotte hit the post, St. John was denied by Kerbel, then Marcotte was robbed by Kerbel as well.

Then, with 7:32 left in the opening stanza, the visitors got the jump, as Whitney finished unassisted.

Scarborough would eventually pull even, but not before Hubbard was robbed by Kerbel, then Kerbel stopped a shot from senior Nick DeLeo.

Thornton Academy junior goalie Jacob Parenteau kept the Red Storm off the board initially, making a nice save on a shot from sophomore Olin Pedersen, but with 2:50 left in the first quarter, after Finn Pedersen’s shot hit the post, the rebound came to Carlista, who buried it, to make it 1-1.

After Kerbel denied St. John and Marcotte late in the period, the game went to the second.

There, Kerbel robbed Flynn early, but with 8:14 to go in the half, LeBlanc scored unassisted to give the Golden Trojans a 2-1 advantage.

Scarborough then pushed for the equalizer, but Parenteau denied Finn Pedersen once and senior Quinn Fogarty twice.

Then, with 2:29 left before halftime, Carlista set up Finn Pedersen for the tying goal and the game went to the break even, 2-2.

The Red Storm actually took 18 first half shots, but most were off the mark. Kerbel’s eight saves kept the contest tied.

Little would change in the second half.

Or beyond.

Thornton Academy junior Ethan LeBlanc is watched by Scarborough senior Sam Rumelhart.

Early in the third quarter, Finn Pedersen bid to put Scarborough back on top, but Parenteau made the save.

After going man-up, Thornton Academy tried to re-take the lead, but LeBlanc was denied by Kerbel.

After Parenteau robbed Olin Pedersen, Kerbel denied shots from both Flynn and Marcotte.

Then, with 2:53 to go in the frame, Finn Pedersen ripped a shot past Parenteau, through the five-hole, and the Red Storm had their first lead, 3-2.

It lasted all of 112 seconds, as with 1:01 remaining, Hubbard finished unassisted to tie it again.

After Kerbel twice robbed Flynn, the contest stayed 3-3 heading for the final stanza.

Which wasn’t the final stanza at all.

The Golden Trojans retook the lead with 9:29 to play, as junior Cam Raymond set up Flynn for his latest big-time goal against Scarborough.

Kerbel kept the deficit at one by robbing Marcotte, then, after a tripping penalty on Thornton Academy, the Red Storm tied it man-up with 7:06 to play, as Carlista got the ball to Finn Pedersen and Pedersen ripped a shot past Parenteau to make it 4-4.

But that would prove to be Scarborough’s final goal of the night.

Late in regulation, the Red Storm went man-up, couldn’t take advantage, then after forcing a turnover, they had a chance to win it, but turned the ball over again and that sent the game to overtime.

Thornton Academy senior Alex St. John (91), teammate Cole Michaud and Scarborough’s Sam Rumelhart and Jayden Flaker all fight for possession on a faceoff.

Senior Cole Michaud won the opening faceoff to St. John and Golden Trojans coach Ryan Hersey called timeout to try to devise a game-winning play.

It didn’t work, as Scarborough forced a turnover, then its coach, Zach Barrett, called timeout.

The Red Storm couldn’t manage a shot and after trading turnovers multiple times, Thornton Academy had a look with just under a minute to go, but Kerbel saved a shot from LeBlanc.

With time winding down, Marcotte had a great look to end it, but Kerbel saved that shot too and the game would go to overtime number two.

Which proved to be a story of more frustration for both sides.

Again, Michaud won possession off the faceoff to St. John, but again the Golden Trojans gave the ball away.

They’d get it back, however, and with 2:30 to play, sophomore Noah Veroneau unleashed a shot, but it was saved by Kerbel.

After a Scarborough turnover, Veroneau tried again, but his shot bounced high.

The Red Storm called timeout with 7.5 seconds left, but couldn’t produce a shot and a third OT would be needed.

And this extra session resulted in a goal.

Michaud won the faceoff, this time to Whitney.

When Scarborough was called for a penalty with 2:30 left, Thornton Academy had a golden opportunity to score the winning goal, but twice St. John missed wide.

The Red Storm then tried to go on offense, but St. John forced a turnover and after the ball was knocked away, he collected it again.

And found some room, so he stepped toward the goal, then fired a low shot which Kerbel deflected, but couldn’t stop and the ball found the mark.

“I took the ball up top, just dodged and shot,” St. John said. “It felt fast off my stick, but I was worried the goalie would get it. The coaches kept telling me to shoot. I only had seven or eight shots all season. Tonight, the opportunities were there.”

“We were looking for the right matchup and to go for it,” said Hersey. “That play from the top, I think we had three goals tonight. We felt like it was a decent matchup for Alex to go. He has a cannon. The goalie got a piece of it, but not the whole thing.”

Thornton Academy rushes the field to celebrate the victory.

At 8:29 p.m., the Golden Trojans mobbed St. John and celebrated their 5-4 victory.

“It’s fun to play the hero, but it was a short but sweet celebration since we have Cape next,” St. John said. “We were winning faceoffs in overtime. Their defense and their goalie is really good and came up with some amazing saves.”

“In overtime, your team goes from about 20 (players) to 13, so the boys are tired,” said Hersey. “We basically played another quarter.

“We have offensive guys who are going against Alex and Hayden and (senior) Mason (Paulin) and a good goalie. We’ve had two, week-long breaks where we could focus on some things. I’d love to see the offense do a little more, but Scarborough made it hard for us.”

Thornton Academy had five different players score, as Flynn, Hubbard, LeBlanc, St. John and Whitney did the honors.

Raymond had the lone assist.

Parenteau made seven saves.

Michaud won eight of 13 faceoffs.

Thornton Academy had a 42-38 edge in ground balls (St. John and Whitney each collected a game-high nine), enjoyed a 41-31 shots advantage (24-11 on cage) and overcame 28 turnovers.

Frustration

For Scarborough, Finn Pedersen had three goals, while Carlista added one with two assists, but the Red Storm didn’t score the final 17 minutes, 45 seconds of the game.

“They have a tough defense,” Barrett said. “It’s a tough scheme to go against. (St. John) does a phenomenal job of getting out and putting the pressure on. It requires a different approach than what we’re used to. It takes us out of our game. We got plenty of opportunities, but in the first half, we missed the net on a lot of shots. The second half, we generated fewer shots for sure. It was very frustrating. Guys were a little nervous. They hadn’t been in that situation this year.”

Kerbel dazzled again with 19 saves.

“Ben saved us again,” Barrett said. “It would have been out of hand if he didn’t play the way he did. He does thrive on pressure.”

“Their goalie is the best we’ve seen all year and he stuffed at least a half-dozen point-blank shots,” said Hersey. “We were hoping to be a little more offensively sound today. We had a week off and worked on stick skills and on moving the ball, but credit to them.”

The Red Storm committed 34 turnovers.

Playoff positioning

Thornton Academy (currently fourth in the Class A South Heal Point standings) will face an even more daunting test Friday night, when Cape Elizabeth pays a visit.

“Cape’s really good,” St. John said. “It will be a good matchup and I think it will be a good atmosphere. Anyone can win it this year. We’ll just keeping working at it every day.”

“Cape’s on everybody’s calendar,” Hersey said. “You have to knock them off to be on the top of the hill. We’ll watch some film and game plan for them. That’s a big one. That will help determine who gets the top seed.”

As for Scarborough (currently second in Class A South), it will travel to Portland Saturday.

“We have a little time now,” Barrett said. “We only have two games the next two weeks. We’ll heal up and refuel and work on some things. I have faith. Playoffs are going to be interesting. A battle royale.”

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

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