PORTLAND—Let’s do this again.

Later in the regular season.

And perhaps once more in the state final.

That was the immediate reaction following a palpitating midseason girls’ hockey showdown between unbeatens Cheverus and Yarmouth/Freeport Wednesday afternoon at Troubh Ice Arena.

Yarmouth/Freeport carried play most of the first period, but Cheverus, a co-op squad which also includes players from Kennebunk, Old Orchard Beach and Windham, got momentum when junior Mikayla Talbot scored with 37 seconds left to break the ice.

Yarmouth/Freeport then broke through midway through the second period, when freshman Adelaide Strout buried a long shot, but with 4:54 remaining, Talbot scored for the second time to put the Stags on top again.


Yarmouth/Freeport tied it up for a second time, when junior Sophie Smith scored on a breakaway with 5:07 to go, but three minutes later, Talbot completed her hat trick and thanks a key late save from junior goalie Ella Lemieux, Cheverus held for a 3-2 victory.

The Stags improved to 8-0 and in the process, handed Yarmouth/Freeport its first setback in nine outings.

“Both teams forced each other to make mistakes we haven’t been making because we hadn’t been pushed,” said Cheverus coach Scott Rousseau. “It was an entertaining game. (Yarmouth/Freeport’s) a really good hockey team.”

Leading the way

Cheverus has been a longtime contender in the South Region, while Yarmouth/Freeport is in the midst of its best start in program history.

The Stags hadn’t been seriously tested, opening with a 4-1 win at York, then downing visiting Brunswick (5-1), host Biddeford (5-1), host Portland/Deering (8-0), visiting Biddeford (9-0), visiting Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete (4-1) and visiting Edward Little (9-1).


Yarmouth/Freeport, meanwhile, started with a 10-4 home victory over St. Dom’s, then won at Cape/SP/Waynflete (7-3), eked out a 2-1 home win over Brewer, then blanked host Greely (12-0), downed visiting Brunswick (6-4) and defeated host Gorham (6-1), visiting Edward Little (12-2) and visiting Cape/SP/Waynflete (3-1).

Cheverus and Yarmouth/Freeport didn’t play a year ago.

Wednesday, they made up for lost time in a thriller that required all 45 minutes to decide.

Yarmouth/Freeport came out strong and had chances to strike first, but Lemieux denied junior Rosie Panenka, Strout, junior Amanda Panciocco and senior Sadie Carnes.

The Stags then took the lead in the final minute of the period, as Talbot got the puck up top and shot through a pair of defenders and beat Yarmouth/Freeport senior goalie Ava Gervais to make it 1-0 with 37.1 seconds to go.

“(Yarmouth/Freeport’s) forecheck was tremendous and kept us pinned the whole first period,” Rousseau said. “They’re playing a deeper bench than us with a third line, so they played to their strength. We had to make some adjustments on the fly that we’d never done in practice before. It got us some transition opportunities.”


Yarmouth/Freeport looked to answer as time wound down, but Lemieux saved shots from Smith and Panenka.

Each team then struck once in the second period.

Yarmouth/Freeport continued to be frustrated early, as both Panenka and Carnes were robbed by Lemieux.

Cheverus then hoped to extend its lead, but sophomore Lucy Johnson had two shots saved by Gervais, Talbot was denied on a wraparound and Gervais stopped a shot from senior Elle Cooney at the last instant.

Finally, with 7:01 on the clock, the visitors pulled even, as the puck slid around the boards to Strout on the right side and Strout sent the puck on frame and it found its way into the net to make it 1-1.

The Stags went back on top, on the power play, as with 4:54 to go in the second, Talbot tried to center the puck in front, it deflected back to her, then she ripped a shot past Gervais for a 2-1 advantage.


Talbot, who was hindered by a serious injury last winter, says she’s back to 100 percent and her impact has been enormous.

“Mikayla had a really tough year last year,” said Rousseau. “She broke her wrist and was out 11 weeks. It was surgery, plates, pins. She’s been struggling to find her groove this year. We hadn’t really needed her to step up but she stepped up in a big way today.”

After Lemieux robbed senior Kate Tracy late in the period, Cheverus took a 2-1 advantage to the second intermission.

The third period began with Yarmouth/Freeport coming within inches of tying the score again, as Panenka rang a shot off the post.

After Panenka missed just wide, Yarmouth/Freeport went on the power play, but the Stags killed it with Johnson making the key play, knocking the puck away from Panenka before she could fire a shot.

With 5:07 left in regulation, Yarmouth/Freeport got the equalizer, as Panciocco got the puck ahead to Smith, who got behind the defense, then fired a shot which Lemieux slowed but couldn’t stop and the puck went into the net to make it 2-2.


But Yarmouth/Freeport’s momentum didn’t last long, as Talbot struck once more.

With 2:08 to play, Talbot got a look and sent a low shot that Gervais couldn’t stop and Cheverus finally had the lead for good.

“I knew what we needed was to put shots on goal,” Talbot said. “If the shot didn’t go in, I would have gone for the rebound.”

“Mikayla played really well,” Lemieux said. “She definitely stepped up for us.”

Yarmouth/Freeport refused to give up, as with 1:22 to go, Carnes set up Panenka for a great look, but Lemieux made the save.

“(Playing goalie is) definitely pressure, but it’s fun,” said Lemieux. “That’s what I’m there for.”


The visitors then had one last chance, as Panenka tried to set up Smith, but Stags junior defender Lily Johnson broke up the pass and Cheverus was able to run out the clock and celebrate its 3-2 victory.

“It was really fun,” said Talbot. “This says we don’t give up. They came out strong on us, but we just started putting shots on net.”

“It was good for our team to have a close game in the third period,” Lemieux said.

The Stags got 20 saves from Lemelin, converted their power play and killed Yarmouth/Freeport’s.

“We won the special teams battle,” said Rousseau. “We scored on our power play and we defended theirs. The margin for error is so small that at the end of the day, that was the difference.”

Yarmouth/Freeport had a 22-15 edge in shots on goal and got a dozen saves from Gervais, but fell just short for the first time this winter.


“We could have won this,” said Yarmouth/Freeport coach Dave Intraversato. “They capitalized on our tired legs at the end of shifts. It was a little bit of a chess game for awhile there. Both teams played well. The second and third periods were even. The first period, I thought we came out strong. It was discouraging to be behind, but they have a phenomenal goalie who makes stops when she needs to.”

Hitting the road

The teams will meet again at least once more, in a late-season showdown later this month.

First, Yarmouth/Freeport hopes to bounce back Saturday, but it will have to do so at Brewer. The squad also travels to Edward Little Wednesday of next week.

“We get (Cheverus) again on the 28th, Senior Night,” Intraversato said. “It will be an emotional night. We’ll bring our game and hopefully we’ll have a different outcome. This year has been exactly what I expected. In the COVID year, we saw what the freshmen could do without anybody else noticing. We’ve kept the same team the last three years and we’re clicking. We play three lines and try to keep legs fresh.

“I think we’ll be fine. You have two schools who are athletic. We had a good fall with Freeport’s field hockey team and Yarmouth’s soccer team. They’re good kids. They all like each other. It’s good to see that.”

As for Cheverus, it goes to Falmouth Saturday and goes to Winslow next Tuesday.

“I’m really excited for this team,” said Talbot. “We play together.”

“Our schedule gets tougher and that’s good for us,” Rousseau added. “It’s going to be nice. We’re just getting going. We’re in a good spot, but it’s not going to be easy. Everything gets tighter at the end.”

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

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