YARMOUTH—The Clippers bounced the Rams 5-1 from the postseason on Tuesday evening, Feb. 27. Gorhamite Trevor Gray scored his boys’ lone goal midway through the second, and the team trailed just 2-1 at the start of the third. That, then, is when the game got away from them.
“They’ve got some good offensive players,” Gorham head coach Jon Portwine said. “And every time we play Yarmouth, whether it’s here or at home, [Clippers goalie Dan Latham] does his job. In two years, he may have let up three goals against us. I don’t know what it is, but the kid’s got it on me. He played a hell of a game.”
The action in the first unfolded evenly. Gorham pressured early, but couldn’t convert; when they incurred a pair of penalties in close succession – Peter Richards picked up two minutes for hooking and Alex O’Connor two minutes for elbowing – Yarmouth seized the opportunity to grab a little momentum.
Play evolved into a back-and-forth, the teams taking turns foraying up-ice while otherwise tying one another up in the neutral zone. Neither side, though, could manage to find the back of the net.
Late in the period – with maybe 10 seconds to play before the break – the Rams, looking momentarily a little disorganized, either got caught on a defensive line change, or simply let a Clipper slip through.
Gorham netminder Garrett Babineau saved the ensuing shot, but a faceoff with 1.7 left on the clock resulted, and that – that! – is when Yarmouth capitalized. Clipper Cooper May won the draw, shoveling to Dom Morrill, who fired off a successful blast. 1-0 Yarmouth after one.
The Rams went man-down again near the start of the second, and the Clippers pressured heavily. Babineau, though, stood stalwart through the entire biscuit barrage. Five minutes later, Yarmouth infracted, Sam Marjerison heading to the sin bin for interference.
“I thought a lot of calls could’ve been overlooked, and then there was some calls that could’ve gone our way,” Portwine said, asked about his boys’ surplus of penalties, “but that’s the game of hockey…I just think the guys worked hard, and we ran into a good Yarmouth team. We knew it was going to be a battle, coming in.”
Less than a minute into the Clippers’ penalty kill, May churned up the rink for a shorthanded one-on-one with Babineau. Babineau poke-checked – an effort that looked sufficient – but another Ram simultaneously tripped May up from behind, delivering Yarmouth a penalty shot.
Clipper Kurt Heywood took the try. From center ice, Heywood broke into a slow approach; Babineau skated forward for a meet-and-greet. Seconds later, Heywood won the duel, firing past Babineau glove-side-high: 2-0.
Resilient, Gorham got on the board maybe 45 seconds later, notching a powerplay goal on a quick transition push. Gray, as mentioned, did the honors, beating Latham right-side, pad-high.
While Yarmouth ultimately outshoot the Rams, it wasn’t by much. “I don’t know what it is about this kid, Latham,” Portwine said, asked what, if anything, his boys could’ve done to generate more goals. “And maybe he does give other coaches fits, but for some reason, when he plays Gorham, he really plays well. And that makes it tough on us.”
The sides fended each other off through the remainder of the second. In the third, though, Gorham stumbled while Yarmouth picked up steam. The Clippers climbed on top 3-1 on a two-man rush with 10:33 to play when May dished through the Rams’ slot to John Decker. At first, it appeared Decker wouldn’t be able to hold onto the pass – but he did, he managed to maintain control, and in a fell swoop, swept the puck past Babineau.
Portwine took a moment to praise Babineau, who, despite giving up five, nevertheless repelled a nagging battery of enemy fire. “I’m proud of the way he played all year,” Portwine said. “He got us here. We rode him to this game.”
Gorham, to their credit, kept on keeping on, and logged several strong chances as the final period unfolded. They couldn’t quite capitalize, though, and the Clippers sailed to 4-1 on a Morrill tally (assist by May) at 6:36, then 5-1 on a Heywood strike (assist by Aidan Miller) roughly a minute later.
The Rams didn’t feature any single superstar this season; top-to-bottom, they merely comprised a solid group of hockey players. Beyond Babineau, Portwine lauded in particular a couple of his elder statesmen. “Defensively, I thought our two seniors played well,” he said, “Ben Eichner and Jack Richards. Jack’s been solid all year, and Ben has too – Ben just hasn’t shown up on the stats sheet as much.”
Finally, Portwine nodded to his lead attackers: “Our first line played well,” he said, “Trevor Gray, Lucas Roop and Cole Perreault.”
Gorham retires till next year at 9-10. The Rams started slow this season, going 2-7 through the first half of their regular schedule. Then they finished strong, however, developing a chemistry and going 7-2 through their last nine games to enter the playoffs ranked fifth in B South.
When Gorham met the Clippers – the four-seed – back on Jan. 15, they succumbed 1-0.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Gorham goalie Garrett Babineau thwarts would-be Yarmouth scorer Cooper May.
Cole Perreault curls through the Yarmouth zone, attacking for Gorham.
Gorhamite Nick Gray chases the action.
Jack Niles pushes forward into Yarmouth territory for the Rams.
Trevor Gray scored Gorham’s lone goal vs. Yarmouth, Tuesday last.
Lucas Roop has played a critical role for the Rams this winter.