Brynn McKenney of Cheverus/Windham celebrates after scoring the tying goal in the third period against the Portland/Cape Elizabeth/Deering/South Portland/Waynflete Beacons on Dec. 14 at Troubh Ice Arena. Cheverus won the game in overtime, 5-4. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

With playoffs in girls’ hockey set to begin with regional quarterfinals on Wednesday, Cheverus/Windham (15-1) is the clear favorite to repeat as state champions.

Clear favorite unless you ask Cheverus, anyway.

“The best thing we do is, we don’t play or feel like we’re the favorite. We do a really good job of just staying in the moment, playing today whether it’s practice or the team we’re playing against,” said Cheverus Coach Scott Rousseau. “We never worry about a result or the longer picture. I think that’s our biggest strength, our attitude and experience.”

Regional finals are scheduled for Feb. 14, with the South at Portland’s Troubh Ice Arena and the North at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. The state championship game is set for Feb. 17 at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

Cheverus returns most of the key players from last season’s championship team, including 2023 Varsity Maine Player of the Year Lucy Johnson, her fellow Varsity Maine All-State selections, defenseman Brynn McKenney and forward Mikayla Talbot, as well as goalie Ella Lemeiux. The Stags have a bye in the regional quarterfinals, and on Saturday will play the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 5 Biddeford/Thornton Academy/Wells/Kennebunk (8-10) and No. 4 Falmouth/Scarborough (9-9).

Cheverus closed the regular season with a 3-0 win over the Gorham co-op team on Thursday night. The win was the eighth shutout in 16 games for the Stags, who outscored opponents 88-19 in the regular season. A handful of teams have the potential to knock off the Stags in the playoffs, but it won’t be easy.


“We’re still trying to figure that out,” said Rams Coach Mary Vaughan. Gorham/Bonny Eagle/Massabesic/Fryeburg Academy/Lake Region/Westbrook (12-6) advanced to the regional finals last season before falling to the Stags.

“We have to play our best hockey, which we know we’re capable of. We haven’t really seen it a whole lot this year, but hopefully playing tough teams to end the regular season, Cheverus and Penobscot, will hopefully give us an idea of the kind of teams we’ll see in the playoffs.”

Goalie Lexi Wiles of Yarmouth/Freeport pushes aside a shot by Gabriella Harrigan of the Portland/Cape Elizabeth/Deering/South Portland/Waynflete Beacons during a game Saturday at Troubh Ice Arena. The Clippers won, 5-2, to finish the regular season at 14-4. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Yarmouth/Freeport (14-4) was the lone team to beat Cheverus in the regular season, 2-1, on Jan. 13. Coach Dave Intraversato said his team learned from its 3-2 loss to the Stags in the state championship game last season. A key is preventing Cheverus from attacking on shift changes, and locking down their wings to prevent wide passes, he said.

“And you need a lot of traffic in front of the net and Ella Lemieux,” Intraversato said.

The Clippers depth can make them a dangerous playoff opponent. Intraversato likes his team’s ability to roll three lines and five defensemen, making Yarmouth/Freeport fresher in the third period when other teams might be skating with heavy legs.

Yarmouth/Freeport will be the top seed in the North, with the Penobscot co-op (14-4) the No. 2 seed and Brunswick (9-9) third. After watching Brunswick’s 5-4 win over the Portland co-op on Thursday, Intraversato thinks the Dragons (9-8) are playing as well as any team in the league.


Brunswick Coach Chris Ledwick said his team played a tough schedule this season by choice. A 5-3 loss to Cheverus on Jan. 22 showed Ledwick his team can skate with the top contenders if it works hard. Thursday’s win over Portland was a reminder to the Dragons that they have to bring that same intensity to each playoff game.

Brunswick’s Gillian Countway slips a shot past goalie Emily Beal of the Gorham co-op team during a Jan. 25 game at the USM Ice Arena. Gorham won, 6-4. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“In hockey and in life, it’s not about talent. Talent gets you through skating through the cones and the drills. It’s one of those sports, if you just work hard, you can beat teams that have a little more skill,” Ledwick said.

“We have some skilled players, for sure, but we also have a lot of girls who just go hard. We take a lot of pride in that we’re the only single town team in the state. These girls all see each other in the halls every day. They’re playing for each other, and that means something.”

Two opponents took Cheverus to overtime before falling this season, the Portland/Cape Elizabeth/Deering/South Portland/Waynflete Beacons (10-8) and Penobscot. Each of those games occurred in the first of two meetings this season against the Stags. Cheverus won the rematch over Portland, 5-2, and defeated Penobscot, 7-2, the second time around. Both will have to get through at least one tough opponent to set up a possible third game against the Stags. Rousseau said every game against the Beacons is tough, acknowledging they have two of the best players in the state.

“Marina Bassett and Jane Flynn give them a puncher’s chance every night that they play. It’s a rivalry game by nature, and that makes everything closer,” Rousseau said.

At Gorham, Vaughan hopes the experience the Rams earned reaching the regional finals for the first time last season gives the team confidence entering the postseason. After all, you can’t act like you’ve been there before unless you’ve been there before.

“Last year when we made our run in the playoffs, we’d never been there before, and it was very overwhelming and pretty intimidating,” Vaughan said.

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