PORTLAND—The long bus ride was worth it for the Penobscot girls’ hockey team.

The Pioneers traveled two hours south through bad weather Thursday for an opportunity to face undefeated Cheverus at Troubh Ice Arena and they most of their visit.

Erupting for four third period goals to hand the Stags their first loss of the season.

Cheverus, which also has players from Kennebunk and Windham, controlled the first period and grabbed a 2-0 lead behind goals from junior Mikayla Talbot and junior captain Brynn McKenney, but the Stags couldn’t quite put it away.

Penobscot, which features players from Bangor, Brewer, Hampden Academy, Hermon, John Bapst, Old Town and Orono, showed life just 31 seconds into the second period when senior captain Emma McNeil found the net.

Cheverus clung to that lead entering the third period, but two minutes in, the Pioneers drew even when sophomore Jordin Williams finished.


With 9:54 left, playing 5-on-3, Penobscot went on top to stay on a goal from Williams and 18 seconds later, still on the power play, a McNeil rebound goal made it 4-2.

The Stags drew within one when sophomore Lucy Johnson scored with 2:50 remaining, but an empty net goal from Williams ended all doubt and the Pioneers prevailed, 5-3.

Penobscot improved to 7-3-1 and handed Cheverus its first loss in 11 outings.

“Now we don’t have to worry about wearing the yoke of an undefeated season,” said Stags coach Scott Rousseau. “We’ll worry about getting better and continue with the process. (Penobscot’s) a good team. They’re fantastic. Their goalie made a lot of big saves. Their defense hung in there.”

A sign of things to come?

Cheverus opened with a 4-1 win at York, then downed 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). The Stags then passed their first big test, edging visiting Yarmouth/Freeport (3-2) before rolling at Falmouth (6-1) and Winslow (7-2).


Much was expected of Penobscot entering the season and the squad went 6-3-1 in its first 10 outings, losing only by a goal to Gorham, Yarmouth/Freeport and Brunswick and playing Yarmouth/Freeport to a tie.

Thursday, the Pioneers showed the Stags and everyone else just how special they can be.

Cheverus sophomore Lucy Johnson fires a shot on net during the Stags’ 5-3 loss to Penobscot Thursday. Hoffer photos.

Cheverus went on the power play just 45 seconds in but couldn’t capitalize, as Talbot had a shot saved by Penobscot freshman goalie Abbie Derosier.

With 9:41 remaining in the first period, the Stags broke through, as Derosier made a save on a Johnson shot, but Talbot was there to bury the rebound.

After Cheverus junior goalie Ella Lemieux preserved the lead by denying a pair of shots from Williams, Derosier denied a rush from Talbot.

Then, with 4:42 left, McKenney beat Williams (with junior captain Charlotte Miller getting an assist) for a 2-0 advantage.


During the short intermission between the first and second periods, the Pioneers regrouped and just 31 seconds into the second, McNeil broke free, had an initial shot saved by Lemieux, then finished on the rebound to cut the deficit in half.

Cheverus junior Lily Johnson fires the puck away from Penobscot senior Emma McNeil.

Johnson then looked to restore the two-goal lead, but she was robbed by Derosier.

The Stags continued to be frustrated, as Miller and Talbot were denied and Johnson was robbed twice.

Lemieux kept Cheverus on top by saving a shot from Williams on a rush and when the Stags went on the power play late in the period, they not only had a one-goal advantage, but an opportunity to build on it after the ice was resurfaced.

Instead, it was all Penobscot in the third period.

Two minutes in, Williams broke in and fired a shot that Lemieux couldn’t stop and just like that, the game was deadlocked, 2-2.


After Lemieux denied McNeil, a tripping penalty gave the Pioneers a power play.

Johnson nearly scored a short-handed goal, but she was robbed by Derosier.

Lemieux then saved a shot from junior Meghan Delahanty, but another penalty was called on Cheverus and Penobscot had 45 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play opportunity.

And the Pioneers only needed 35 seconds to score the go-ahead goal.

After Williams missed just wide, Delahanty got the puck and fed it to Williams who finished for a 3-2 lead with 9:54 to play.

And making matters worse for the Stags, Lemieux had to leave the game with an injury and she was replaced by freshman Ellie Skolnekovich, who had no time to warm up.


Penobscot, still on a 5-on-4 power play, took advantage and doubled its lead 18 seconds later, as Delahanty’s shot was saved by Skolnekovich, but McNeil was waiting to clean up the rebound to make it 4-2.

Cheverus rose off the deck and got back in the game, as after Derosier saved shots from Talbot and Johnson, Johnson scored (from Talbot) with 2:50 to play to give the Stags life.

But Cheverus’ faint hope was extinguished with 56.9 seconds on the clock, as Williams fired the puck into an empty net.

After one final big save by Derosier, denying Johnson, the clock ran out and the Pioneers celebrated their biggest victory yet, 5-3.

“The ladies were excited to play the number one team in the south and we came together and got the win,” said Penobscot coach Michael Keim. “The team worked really well together tonight. We were confident. The girls have seen a lot of stuff this season and we banded together to get the win. It’s all about team chemistry. Hanging out on and off the ice and building an exciting team chemistry.”

Derosier made 23 saves.


“Abbie stood on her head,” Keim said. “She moved post-to-post very well and her rebound control was very good.”

The Stags got 14 saves from Lemieux and two from Skolnekovitch and had a 26-21 shots advantage, but fell short for the first time this winter.

“It just got away from us and they capitalized,” Rousseau said. “We took penalties and unfortunately, our goalie hurt her groin and the story was told. Then, we were chasing the game. We were going to lose anyway, so we pulled the goalie. It happens. We hadn’t been pushed enough yet. These games are good for us. No coach likes to lose, but we hadn’t practiced 6-on-5 yet and that’s my fault.”


The teams meet again in the regular season finale Feb. 1 up north. They could face each other a third time in the state final as well, but both squads have plenty of work to do first.

Penobscot welcomes Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland Monday, then visits reigning champion Lewiston Wednesday as it seeks to continue to improve.

“This is very memorable and we’ll take it to heart, but we’re on the next one,” said Keim. “If all goes well, we’ll come back here but we’ll take it one game at a time.”

Cheverus faces a couple regional tests next week, when Gorham pays a visit Monday and a trip to Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland awaits next Thursday.

“We lost one game to a really, really good team and we’ll go back to practice tomorrow and we’ll fix our mistakes,” said Rousseau.

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

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