PORTLAND—After a rough end to the regular season, the Cheverus/Yarmouth boys’ hockey team hopes that the “second season” is more to its liking.

So far, so good.

Wednesday evening at Troubh Ice Arena, Cheverus/Yarmouth, the No. 3 seed in Class B South, hosted a sixth-ranked Gorham squad it beat twice during the regular season, but after losing four of its final five regular season games, Cheverus/Yarmouth’s championship quest began inauspiciously, as just 24 seconds in, the Rams took the lead on a rebound goal from junior Cole Allen.

Cheverus/Yarmouth then came to life and drew even midway through the first period on a goal from junior Brian Connolly.

Gorham went on the power play early in the second period, but it would be Cheverus/Yarmouth taking advantage, at least initially, as senior Truman Peters scored for the lead, but the Rams would tie it up later in the power play, as senior Andrew Gaudreau found the net.

Connolly then put Cheverus/Yarmouth ahead to stay, scoring off a faceoff, and the score remained 3-2 heading to the third period.

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There, junior David Swift scored to produce some breathing room, but with 8:25 remaining, senior Emmit Sullivan pulled Gorham within a goal.

Junior Andrew Cheever then put Cheverus/Yarmouth back ahead by two, but with 2:37 to play, Allen pulled the Rams within one again, 5-4.

But Cheverus/Yarmouth wouldn’t allow another shot and as time expired, Cheever scored an empty net goal to ice it and produce a 6-4 victory.

Cheverus/Yarmouth improved to 11-6-2, ended Gorham’s season at 8-10-1 and advanced to take on red-hot, second-ranked Cape Elizabeth (16-2) in the semifinals Saturday at 6:20 p.m., at Troubh Ice Arena.

“The boys responded really well and they did that over and over again the entire game,” said Cheverus/Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre. “We had a nice response every time (Gorham) put the puck in the net and that’s what I’m most proud of.”

Just enough

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Cheverus/Yarmouth had its difficulties to start the year (going 0-2-1) and to end it (finishing 1-4), but in-between, the squad was nearly perfect, going 10-0-1 in over a month’s time (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

“We play a tough schedule,” St. Pierre said. “We wanted to win those games, but we had confidence to what we’re doing. We’ve recommitted to some things structurally on the ice.”

Gorham, meanwhile, was streaky as well, winning its first three games, then dropping five straight before going 3-1-1 down the stretch, with the lone loss coming in overtime to reigning Class B champion Brunswick.

Cheverus/Yarmouth twice beat the Rams this winter, 1-0 at home and 4-2 on the road.

Cheverus/Yarmouth had not played Gorham in the postseason since becoming a co-op team, but the Rams did play Yarmouth twice previously (see sidebar).

Wednesday, Gorham staggered Cheverus/Yarmouth early, as after Cheverus/Yarmouth senior goalie Neal McQuarrie saved a shot from Sullivan, then turned aside a bid from junior Corliss Ordway, Allen was there to bury the rebound and just 24 seconds into the game, the Rams had a 1-0 lead.

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But the rest of the first period would belong to Cheverus/Yarmouth, however, which would eventually pull even.

Gorham senior goalie Jasper Crane handled the pressure initially, stopping a pair of shots from sophomore Quinn McCoy, another from Cheever, as well as a blast from junior Ian O’Connor.

With 6:58 left in the period, Cheverus/Yarmouth got the equalizer, as Cheever got the puck to Connolly and after Connolly’s first shot was saved by Crane, Connolly pounced on his own rebound and buried it to make it 1-1.

“It’s certainly not the way we wanted to start,” St. Pierre said. “It was a tough goal, kind of a broken play, but we were able to respond.”

Late in the first period, Crane denied two shots from senior Ethan St. Pierre.

With 1:29 left, Cheever went to the penalty box for roughing, giving the Rams a chance to take a lead to the first intermission, but a last-second rush by Allen was broken up by Cheverus/Yarmouth senior Ben Moll.

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Cheverus/Yarmouth enjoyed a 12-4 shots advantage in the first 15 minutes, but had nothing to show for it.

Cheverus/Yarmouth then managed to go on top in the second period.

After killing the penalty (McQuarrie saved a bid from senior Jack Reidy), Connolly nearly put his team in front, but his blast hit the crossbar.

Then, with 12:32 remaining, Cheverus/Yarmouth senior Jaden Morin was called for roughing and a conduct penalty was tacked on, giving Gorham a four-minute power play.

Cheverus/Yarmouth acted like it had the advantage, however, as after Connolly missed just wide, then had a shot saved, O’Connor rushed in and shot and while Crane made the save, Peters was waiting to bury the rebound and at 3:49, the home team led for the first time, 2-1.

The Rams remained on the power play and at 5:46, tied the score, as Allen got the puck to Gaudreau, who fired through a screen and beat McQuarrie, making it 2-2.

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Undaunted, Cheverus/Yarmouth went back on top.

This time, for good.

After Crane robbed Peters, then saved a shot from junior Evan Hankins, play stopped for a faceoff and in the blink of an eye, Connolly got the puck on his stick and at 7:21, ripped a shot past Crane and into the net to make it 3-2.

“I didn’t see anything,” Connolly said. “I just ripped it on net and hoped for the best. I got tangled up and the puck wound up on my stick.”

“He got a loose puck and just fired it in the net,” Dave St. Pierre said. “We’ll take that every time.”

It remained anyone’s game as the third period commenced and just 38 seconds in, Cheverus/Yarmouth went man-down again.

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And again, killed the penalty.

“We did a really good job on the PK,” Dave St. Pierre said. “We moved well and attacked the puck well.”

With 10:56 remaining, Swift scored an unassisted goal, skating in close before firing the puck past Crane for a two-goal advantage, but after Reidy hit the crossbar, Gorham went on the power play again and this time, took advantage, as with 8:25 to go, Sullivan rebounded his own shot past McQuarrie to cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Rams never got a look at a tying goal, however, as just 27 seconds later, Cheever, who was wide open in front, finished a feed from Swift.

Gorham wasn’t finished yet and with 2:37 remaining, Allen scored for the second time, picking up a loose puck in front and one-timing it past McQuarrie (with Reidy and Sullivan getting assists).

The Rams weren’t able to generate another look, however, and weren’t able to pull Crane for an extra attacker until roughly 30 seconds remained.

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Cheverus/Yarmouth appeared to clinch it with 10 seconds to go, when McCoy sent the puck into the empty net, but the goal was waved off due to Cheverus/Yarmouth being offsides.

Cheverus/Yarmouth then tied up the puck in the Rams’ zone and just before the horn, Cheever sent it into the net to bring the curtain down on a 6-4 victory.

“We came together as a family and played a good game tonight,” Connolly said. “We knew we were going to be fine as long as we played our game. We just kept the pressure on in their zone. They did a good job fighting to the end, but we were able to hold them off. ”

“That’s playoff hockey, they were fighting for their lives,” Dave St. Pierre said. “They have a talented team over there with some really talented players. They found a way to get the puck in the net, but we responded.”

Cheverus/Yarmouth enjoyed a 38-16 shots advantage and got a dozen saves from McQuarrie.

Crane made 31 saves in his swan song.

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“Jasper has been the backbone of Gorham hockey for four years now,” said Rams coach Shawn Sullivan.

“Credit to Cheverus/Yarmouth. They played an outstanding game. They came 100 miles-per-hour every shift and never stopped. Our guys hung in there and played hard and never gave up. We got that quick start and that was awesome for us, but we knew they’d come hard, in a home playoff game. We weathered that storm through the first period and had a good second period, but things didn’t bounce our way in the third.

“(The guys) hung in there all season and have no reason to hang their heads. They fought through a lot of adversity this year. A lot of injuries. For them to all come together and battle, it’s a credit to them.”

Gorham expects to be in the hunt again next winter.

“We do lose seven seniors,” Shawn Sullivan said. “That’s tough, but we have some very talented freshmen coming in and talented underclassmen. We’ll look to bounce back.”

Third time a charm?

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Cheverus/Yarmouth had no luck with Cape Elizabeth this winter, falling at home in the second game of the season (6-1), then closing with a 4-1 setback in the regular season finale Feb. 22.

Cheverus/Yarmouth has no playoff history with the Capers, but Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth met 10 times in the postseason between 1984 and 2020. The Clippers held a 6-4 edge, but the most recent encounter went to the Capers, 5-0, in the 2020 quarterfinals.

Cheverus and Cape Elizabeth played twice back when the Stags were a stand-alone program, with Cheverus rolling in the 1991 Western B quarterfinals (9-2) and the Capers eking out a 4-3 overtime decision in the 2020 B South semifinals.

Cheverus/Yarmouth will enter Saturday’s game with nothing to lose, hoping the old adage that it’s hard to beat a team three times rings true.

“We have to put pressure on their goalie the whole game,” said Connolly. “We hope the third time’s a charm.”

“The boys are bought in,” said Dave St. Pierre. “We played a tight game against them last time and the score got away at the end. I think we can stay with them. We’re capable. We have to commit to what we do and out-work them. They’re a very good hockey team and they’re in the position they’re in for a reason, but I’m confident in what we have.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected].

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