GORHAM—Shots-wise, Gorham more than doubled-up on the visiting Kings on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 9, and all that peppering earned them a goal, an Aiden Enck strike. But goals-wise, the Kings tripled-up on their hosts, ultimately earning themselves a nice, 3-1 W thanks to contributions by Reece Collins, Austin Taylor and Trent Vaillancourt.
“We gave up too many odd-man rushes, especially early on,” Gorham head coach Jon Portwine said. “They converted on two; they probably had four or five chances that they could have converted on, on odd-man rushes. We were being a little aggressive towards the beginning of the game, pinching on pucks that we maybe should have backed out on.”
The Kings put up the first two goals of the day barely more than a minute apart: Collins punched the first home, past Gorham goalie Guiseppe Brown, with 5:24 remaining in the opening period on an assist by Spencer Berube; Taylor punched the second home not long after, unassisted.
Over the course of those 15 minutes, the Rams outshot their guests something like 10-7, and with just over a minute to play before the break, Enck scored with a little help from teammate Trevor Gray. Otherwise, though, Kings netminder Xavier Michaud stood strong.
Michaud, in fact, stood strong for the remainder of the game. Portwine elaborated on his performance. “All you can do is hope that you get some traffic in front of him, he doesn’t see it, he gives up a rebound, where we happen to be in the right place to bury that rebound. You know, it seemed like he was going to stop everything that he saw tonight…Those pucks that are scrums in front of the net, they can go 50/50. And tonight, none of them went our way.”
The Rams outshot the Kings by a still-greater margin in the second – 12 shots to two – and continued to badger Michaud in the third, 10 shots to four. But the only other point scored that afternoon was an empty-netter in the late third, thanks to Vaillancourt.
“We haven’t been the type of team that moves a puck in front of the net all that much and hits the back door guy,” Portwine said of his boys’ offensive work, “or crosses the puck in front. But we’ve got to figure out a way to score. When…we’re getting that many pucks to the net, it’s on us to be able to get it by him.”
In part, the Rams’ owed their offensive pressure to the sheer number of penalties the Kings incurred. (A couple of these came on questionable calls, though it’s also worth noting that both sides seemed to get away with a chippy play here and there as well). The team notched six minor infractions in three periods. Still, despite Gorham’s outstanding offensive-zone control during those two-minute intervals, they could never capitalize.
“In the second period, I told them not to shoot the puck unless we had somebody in front,” Portwine said. “Unless somebody was setting a screen in front and the kid couldn’t see it, hold the puck. Because they did give us some room in the offensive zone. One thing that I’ve been preaching with these guys all year and really, my whole coaching career, is offensive zone control, and we did a very, very good job with that tonight. 45 minutes, we had the puck in their zone for 38, 39 minutes of the game.”
The Kings advance to 10-5-1 on the win; Gorham slips to 7-7. Worth noting: The Rams have dropped five of those seven losses, according to Portwine, by one goal or one goal plus an empty-netter, as they did against the Kings. Among their narrow defeats is a 3-2 result vs. No. 1 Greely.
“Goalscoring is a problem for us and has been all season,” Portwine said. “We don’t have a whole lot of guys that can score; we got a lot of guys that are good hockey players, that hustle and can get the puck turned over and play physical, big bodies, that skate hard and are fast.”
“We’re not a team is going to score a lot of pretty goals,” Portwine said. “We never have been. I don’t think told any of those guys that’s the way we’re going to score goals. We have to score dirty goals – rebounds, screens, those kind of things.”
The Kings close out their regular schedule with a Feb. 16th home bout vs. Yarmouth (7-6-2) and a Feb. 21st road bout vs. Greely (12-2). The Rams, meanwhile, have four games left. Next up for them is away vs. Maranacook/Winthrop/Madison/Spruce Mountain (1-12) on Feb. 11, and then away vs. Gardiner (7-7) on Feb. 14.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Trevor Gray slices through the corner.
Cole Perreault scoots forward for the Rams.
Nick Gray skids to a stop in the corner.
Jonah Bird unwinds into a slapshot.
Tanner Garand carries for the Rams.
Gorham’s Aiden Enck and the Kings’ Aiden Gonzalez face off.
Sam Tibbetts covers his post for the Kings.
Andrew Topham tracks the action.
Guiseppe Brown, in goal for the Rams, tracks a shot by King Nate Marcotte. (The puck would miss wide.)
Gorham’s Aiden Owens cuts through the corner.
Nolan Gava works behind the net.