PORTLAND—There are no style points in the playoffs.

All that matters is winning and advancing.

Saturday afternoon at Troubh Ice Arena, top-ranked Cheverus welcomed No. 4 York/Traip/Marshwood/Noble in a South Region semifinal and despite dominating the shots column, nothing came easily for the Stags.

Cheverus, a co-op team which also includes players from Kennebunk and Windham, controlled play from the get-go, but despite putting 20 shots on goal in the first period alone, the Stags couldn’t solve Wildcats senior goalie Kathryn Brower.

Finally, 74 seconds into the second period, Cheverus broke through, as junior Mikayla Talbot scored unassisted, but that would be it for offensive production.

The Stags’ defense and junior Ella Lemieux ensured that one goal would be enough, keeping York/Traip/Marshwood/Noble off the scoreboard and Cheverus was able to survive and advance by virtue of a 1-0 victory.


The Stags improved to 16-3, ended the Wildcats’ season at 10-9 and advanced to take on No. 2 Gorham (13-6) in the South Region Final Wednesday at 7 p.m., at Troubh Ice Arena.

“I’d love to score more, but we’re happy to advance,” said Cheverus coach Scott Rousseau. “We played a beautiful hockey game. Everything gets tighter and tougher in the playoffs.”

Step one

Cheverus had the pieces in place to make a championship run a year ago, but in the semifinals, the Stags had no answers for Scarborough and was upset, 1-0, in a triple-overtime thriller.

This winter, Cheverus has been the clear team to beat in the South Region and enjoyed a terrific 15-3 campaign (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

As the top seed in the South Region, the Stags earned a bye into the semifinals.


York/Traip/Marshwood/Noble, meanwhile, went 10-8 and didn’t play a quarterfinal either, as No. 5 Falmouth forfeited due to low numbers.

Cheverus twice beat the Wildcats this year, 4-1 on the road and 5-1 at home.

The teams met three previous times in the playoffs, with Cheverus rolling to a 7-1 victory in the 2010 semifinals and York prevailing in the 2011 semifinals (1-0) and again in the 2017 quarterfinals (2-1).

Saturday, the Stags had to scratch and claw, but found a way to move on.

Cheverus junior Mikayla Talbot skates in on goal during the Stags’ 1-0 win over York in Saturday’s South Region semifinals. Hoffer photos.

Brower immediately made her presence felt by saving shots from Talbot, freshman Briella Doherty, Talbot, junior Charlotte Miller, Talbot again and sophomore Lucy Johnson on a breakway.

With 5:04 to go in the first period, Cheverus went on the power play, but came up empty, as Brower twice denied junior Brynn McKenney, then saved a bid from junior Lily Johnson.


Late in the frame, the Stags had two more chances to go on top, but Brower saved shots from McKenney and Lucy Johnson.

Despite a 20-2 shots advantage, Cheverus couldn’t break through.

The Stags then struck 1 minute, 14 seconds into the second period, as Talbot, got the puck, got past a defender, then, at the last second, fired a shot between Brower’s pads for a 1-0 lead.

Cheverus sophomore Lucy Johnson congratulates junior Mikayla Talbot after the game’s lone goal.

“I just pushed through with the puck and when I got to the net, I just shot it,” Talbot said. “I had a lot of support from my teammates too.”

“(Mikayla) scores big goals and we’re a big-game team,” said Rousseau.

After killing a penalty, Cheverus looked to double its lead, but Brower saved a shot from sophomore Zoey Radford, then robbed junior Maddie Doherty on the doorstep.


With 8:31 on the clock, Talbot appeared to make it 2-0, when she directed the puck into the net, but the offiicials waved the goal off, ruling that Talbot kicked it in.

“That would have changed things,” Rousseau lamented. “It could have changed it to a 4-0 or 5-0 type game.”

Brower then continued to frustrate the Stags, saving shots from Lucy Johnson (and denying her rebound), getting a piece of a Lily Johnson shot which deflected into the air and landed on top of the net, then smothering a wrap-around bid from Talbot.

After the ice was resurfaced, little changed in the third period.

With 11:51 to play, the Wildcats hoped to pull even, but a rush from senior Margaret Hanlon was broken up by Radford and McKenney.

After Brower kept it a one-score game by saving shots from Miller, Talbot and Maddie Doherty, York/Traip/Marshwood/Noble had a golden opportunity midway through the final stanza, when a Cheverus defender slipped and fell, giving sophomore Keira Alessi a chance to skate in on Lemieux, but Lemieux saved her back-handed bid.


Moments later, the Wildcats went on the power play and had a few great looks, but Lemieux saved shots from Hanlon and senior Elizabeth Buckley before Buckley sent another shot just high.

Late in regulation, York/Traip/Marshwood/Noble pulled Brower as it hoped to even the score, but it couldn’t muster another shot and the Stags were able to prevail, 1-0.

Cheverus junior goalie Ella Lemieux is mobbed by her teammates at the final horn.

“It wasn’t easy to hold them off and keep the lead,” said Talbot. “That’s playoff hockey, it’s always going to be a one- or two-goal game. All playoff games are tough. We just played together and worked hard as a team. It’s really nice to get to the regional final. It’s good for our team to get past where we were last year.”

“It would have been very easy tonight to get nervous and anxious to make mistakes, but the only chances they had were on the power play,” Rousseau said.

Cheverus had a 42-7 shots advantage and Lemieux stopped every shot she faced.

“When we did have to kill a penalty, Ella stayed calm and stepped up,” Rousseau said.


The Wildcats got 41 saves from Brower, who certainly impressed the Stags.

“(Brower) has a lot of skill,” Talbot said. “She’s probably one of the best goalies we’ve faced all year. It was a challenge. We just had to keep the pressure on.”

“Kathryn Brower played the game of her life,” said Rousseau. “I don’t know what more we could have done.”

Gorham awaits

Cheverus and Gorham played just once in the regular season, with the Stags winning at home, 5-1, Jan. 16.

Cheverus handled Gorham in last year’s quarterfinal round, 10-3, in the teams’ lone prior playoff encounter.

“We have to keep practicing the basics and keep working as a team and stay relaxed,” said Talbot.

“We don’t have a player who has gotten out of this round,” said Rousseau. “We’ve had success as a program, but as a team, we’re new to this. If you’re still playing, you’re a good hockey team. Mary Vaughan is a great coach and she’s done an awesome job with that team. They’ll come in here and play great and we’ll have to play as well as we did tonight to advance. We just have to stay in the moment. We have to execute what we do in practice and play well shift after shift.”

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

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