YARMOUTH—This time around, it was Yarmouth/Freeport finishing strong.

Saturday afternoon at Travis Roy Arena, Yarmouth/Freeport welcomed Cheverus in the second of a possible three showdowns between two of the best girls’ hockey teams in the state and while last time, it was the Stags who scored the late goal to prevail, history didn’t repeat itself.

On its Senior Day, Yarmouth/Freeport started fast, as senior captain Sadie Carnes and freshman Celia Zinman each found the net late in the first period for a 2-0 lead.

But Cheverus roared back in the second period, as a goal from junior Marina Friedman turned momentum, then a long blast from junior captain Brynn McKenney forged a 2-2 tie heading to the third period.

There, both teams had chances, but the game remained deadlocked until 1:33 remained, when freshman Adelaide Strout scored in traffic to put Yarmouth/Freeport ahead to stay.

The Stags pulled their goalie for an extra skater, but it didn’t work, as with 47 seconds to go, junior Sophie Smith sent the puck into the empty net and the slammed the door on a 4-2 victory.


Yarmouth/Freeport earned its biggest victory to date, improved to 13-1-1 and in the process, handed Cheverus just its second loss in 16 outings.

“It’s a good confidence booster for us,” said Yarmouth/Freeport coach David Intraversato. “We preach trust, confidence and work ethic. Our work ethic was there today. This gives us a lot of confidence if we play them again.”

Another thriller

Cheverus and Yarmouth/Freeport (along with Penobscot) have clearly been the state’s elite teams this winter.

Yarmouth/Freeport 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 Penobscot, 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) before suffering its first loss, 3-2, at Cheverus. After battling host Penobscot to a 4-4 tie, Yarmouth/Freeport returned to its winning ways, defeating host Edward Little (11-3), visiting Falmouth (4-1), host Brunswick (6-3) and host Winslow (4-2).

As for Cheverus, it 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). Cheverus let a third period lead slip away in its first loss, 5-3, to visiting Penobscot, then it returned to form by downing visiting Gorham (5-1), host Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete (9-0), visiting York (5-1) and visiting Mt. Ararat (4-1).


In the teams’ first meeting Jan. 4, junior Mikayla Talbot had a hat trick for Cheverus, including the decisive goal late, and junior goalie Ella Lemieux made 20 saves.

Saturday, seniors from both programs were honored before the game, then the two contenders put on a memorable 45-minute show.

Yarmouth/Freeport had the first chance, but Stags freshman goalie Ellie Skolnekovitch (filling in for the injured Lemieux) denied Smith on a rush.

Cheverus then looked for the lead, but sophomore Lucy Johnson had a back-hander saved by Yarmouth/Freeport senior goalie Ava Gervais, then Gervais turned aside a shot from Friedman.

The Stags then went on the power play and came within inches of grabbing the lead, as after Gervais saved a Talbot shot, McKenney fired a shot that trickled through Gervais’ pads, but junior defender Amanda Panciocco got to the loose puck and cleared it before it crossed the line.

“The puck just slid by (Ava) and I just did everything I could to keep it from going into the net,” Panciocco said. “It felt good and I was glad to keep them off the board.”


“(Amanda’s) one of the top defenders in the league and we’re lucky to have her,” said Intraversato. “She has a great hockey IQ. She knew what was happening there and she was alert to keep the puck out of the net.”

Yarmouth/Freeport then grabbed the lead with 2:03 to go in the opening period, as Smith sent the puck in, it sat free and Carnes managed to back-hand it into the net.

“Quick starts are huge for us,” Carnes said. “Every game we have a quick start we end up winning.”

A mere 38 seconds later, Yarmouth/Freeport doubled its lead, as Skolnekovich saved a Smith shot, but Zinman buried the rebound and the hosts appeared in command heading to the second period.

But instead, Cheverus got right back in the game.

After Yarmouth/Freeport failed to extend its lead on the power play (as Skolnekovich saved shots from senior Chloe White and Smith), Johnson passed ahead to Friedman, who redirected the puck on goal and at 3:56, it got through Gervais and crossed the line to cut the deficit in half.


And give the Stags life.

After Skolnekovich denied White and saved a pair of bids from junior Rosie Panenka, Gervais robbed junior Charlotte Miller, but with 2:52 left in the second period, Friedman passed the puck to McKenney who ripped a high shot through traffic and it found the mark to tie the score, 2-2.

It was anyone’s game as the third period began and while Cheverus had its chances to prevail again, ultimately, Yarmouth/Freeport saved its best for last.

The Stags went on the power play early in the third period, but Gervais denied McKenney and Talbot.

Yarmouth/Freeport then went on the attack looking for the lead, but Skolnekovich denied Panenka, Smith, freshman Erin O’Connor and freshman Sophie White.

With 5:24 to play, Cheverus had a golden opportunity to take the lead, as Talbot skated in alone, but she couldn’t completely control the puck for a solid shot and instead, sent the puck just wide.


“I couldn’t ask for a better player to have the puck there than Mikayla,” said Stags coach Scott Rousseau. “If she scores there, it’s a different story.”

Two minutes later, Gervais robbed Talbot and with Johnson racing in to finish the rebound, Gervais collected the puck in the nick of time.

Then, with 1:33 remaining, Yarmouth/Freeport regained control of the game.

Panciocco got the play started by getting the puck to Panenka, who sent it in and when Cheverus couldn’t clear it, Strout took advantage and buried it for a 3-2 lead.

“We knew we had the energy and we had the potential,” Panciocco said. “We just had to get going again.”

“We focused on getting the puck forward to the net and something good would happen,” Intraversato said. “We tried to keep the puck in the zone and it worked out for us.”


Rousseau called timeout and pulled Skolnekovitch and it resulted in one chance, but Miller sent the puck wide with 1:01 on the clock.

Then, with 47.3 seconds remaining, after Panciocco passed her the puck off the boards, Smith buried it into the empty net.

“Sophie was a in great place and I just saw her open and just tried to get the puck to her,” said Panciocco.

Yarmouth/Freeport ran out the clock from there and celebrated a hard-fought 4-2 victory.

“It was a great celebration,” said Panciocco. “We’re super-excited.”

“We’ve been working so hard for this game,” said Carnes. “It means a lot to beat (Cheverus) on Senior Night. There was a lot of emotion. They’re a great team and they gave us a great game. It was pretty stressful when the game was tied, especially against a good team like (Cheverus). We kept our energy going and it got us back on top.”


“It was anybody’s game there, but I had faith in our team,” added Intraversato. “The girls have worked really hard this year and we had legs at the end. We had to adjust and the girls knew what to do. Our game all year has been our forecheck and our forecheck did a great job today. We set the tone the first five, 10 minutes. We knew we’d pop a couple goals in and we did. It was great to get a 2-0 lead, but we knew Cheverus is a great team and they tied it up.”

Yarmouth/Freeport had a 28-15 shots advantage and got 13 saves from Gervais.

Cheverus got 24 saves from Skolnekovitch, but ultimately fell just short.

“Ellie’s composure after giving up two goals, you can’t ask for anything more,” Rousseau said. “She gave us a chance to come back.

“We didn’t win today but I thought we played a good hockey game. We just didn’t win against another really good team. There was a point where it looked like we’d get run out of the building. We were getting exhausted and couldn’t get out of the zone. You could see it coming. It was an avalanche against us. We figured it out and made some adjustments and got back in the game.”

Two left


Cheverus (which will be top seed in the South Region Heal Points standings) hosts Falmouth Monday, then closes with a tough game at Penobscot Wednesday. The Stags expect to have Lemieux back for the playoffs, along with junior Lily Johnson, a top defender and contributor.

“We’re very encouraged that Ella and Lily are really close, but it’s not worth it to rush them back,” Rousseau said.

Yarmouth/Freeport (currently ranked first in the North Region Heals) is back in action Monday at home versus Mt. Ararat, then it goes to Lewiston next Saturday before hosting Portland/Deering in a makeup game to end the year Feb. 6.

“We do a lot of skating to keep our legs in place and that keeps us going through games,” Carnes said. “Practicing like we play will be big going into playoffs.”

“This is so much fun,” Panciocco said. “It’s the best team I’ve ever played on.”

“Our region is very tough,” Intraversato added. “We’ll have to get through (Penobscot). Fortunately, the regional final is in a neutral site if we get there. I think tonight helps us get the top spot. We’re in a position to do great things.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

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