GORHAM—Gorham couldn’t quite get it done vs. visiting Scarborough on Wednesday night, Dec. 20. The Rams posted a flurry of goals at the start of the second – and even seized the lead on Tyler Weeks’s contribution – but the Storm surged back soon enough, retaking control on a Luke Levesque penalty shot and ultimately clinching a 4-3 triumph.
The opening period belonged to Scarborough, who notched two goals during the stretch. Less than three minutes in, Patrick Clonan tallied the first (assisted by Wyatt Plummer) on a powerplay; nine minutes later, Ethan Jasa put up the second (unassisted) on another man-advantage.
Clearly, Gorham’s inability to keep clear of the sin bin hurt them through those uphill 15 minutes. The team logged four penalties all told: Dom Lorello pulled two minutes for tripping, Alex O’Connor two minutes for elbowing, Holden Edwards two minutes for cross-checking and Peter Richards five minutes for boarding.
“Extremely disappointed with the first period,” Gorham head Jon Portwine said of his boys’ mass of infractions at to begin the contest. “It’s not part of our gameplan, it’s not what we set out to do. The guys know how to play the game. The major, I didn’t see…the other penalties, we shouldn’t have taken them. Open-ice hits, hits to the head. There’s no place in the game for it, and it’s certainly not what we’re teaching.”
“Anytime we play Scarborough, the guys get ramped-up. Maybe they were a little over-anxious,” Portwine said. “Still, they’re old enough to keep things in check. I’ve got all juniors and seniors; there’s a lot of varsity experience. I don’t have young kids. I can’t use any excuses for the way we played in the first period.”
Interestingly, Gorham ran an aggressive penalty kill almost from the get-go – and did a respectable job at it. It wasn’t entirely by design, though Portwine does have faith in his leaders. “Unfortunately, in the preseason, we had to kill a lot of five-minute majors,” he said. “There are some individuals I put out on the penalty-kill that are aggressive and I trust to be aggressive. And there are some who will play passive. Our system is passive, but there are some guys I’ll give a green light to.”
Gorham charged onto the ice (evidently) refocused to start the middle period, scoring thrice inside nine minutes to jump out front. Edwards ignited the push, punching one home barely a minute and a half in on an assist by Jack Niles. Cole Perreault struck next, besting Scarborough keeper Brandon Wasser with a sharp redirect in close. Finally, Weeks converted on a Trevor Gray feed with 6:35 to play before the break.
“I wouldn’t want you to quote me on anything I said in the locker room between the first and second periods,” Portwine said ominously. “But I was not happy. We didn’t make any systems adjustments or play adjustments; it was just a wake-up call. They needed it, they seemed to respond to it.”
“I hope I don’t have to do what I did between the first and second periods every time I go in the locker room to get these guys to play well,” Portwine said. “But we did play well for a stretch there; that was encouraging.”
But the Storm had no intentions of checking out early, and balanced the scoreboard again at 2:07. Plummer did the honors, assisted by both Clonan and Jacob Brown. Then, with a mere 37 seconds to play before the break, Levesque nearly – nearly, but not quite – escaped the pack for a breakaway confrontation with Rams netminder Garett Babineau. Instead, a Rams defender, hot on Levesque’s heels, dove, and threw his stick. The play disrupted Levesque’s advance, sure. It was also illegal.
Levesque lined up for a penalty shot, crunched away from center ice, and picked up steam toward Babineau. He shot backhand, top-shelf, left side – and scored. Scarborough were back on top, 4-3.
The third period unfolded tautly: The teams played each other hard, but neither could score again. In the end, then, the Storm emerged victorious. 4-3.
“We seemed a little flat when we came out for the third,” Portwine said. “We certainly didn’t come out with that [fire].”
“This team has the ability,” Portwine said. “I don’t know what the recipe is for success with this group. I don’t know what motivates them, I don’t know what gets under their skin. I’m still trying to figure that out. After coaching them for four years, you’d think I would know. But this group – this group is different. I’m still looking for answers. I’m going to continue looking for answers. Whatever the best mix of guys is for this group, that makes us successful, I’ll find, by the end of the season.”
Gorham slipped to 0-4 on the loss. The Rams’ schedule was certainly frontloaded with tough opponents, though: The team has also fallen to Cape Elizabeth (No. 1 in B South) and Edward Little (No. 2 in A North), for instance. Gorham hosted a holiday tournament in the days following Christmas. Their next countable game is currently slated for Jan. 6, when they host Gardiner.
Scarborough, meanwhile, advanced to 2-2 on the win. The Storm travel to South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete on Thursday the 28th.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Cole Perreault drives forward for the Rams vs. the Storm.
Gorham’s Lucas Roop works the puck in the neutral zone.
Ben Nault shuttles the puck cross-ice.
Gorham’s Jack Niles stick-handles, keeping his body between the puck and Scarborough’s Nolan Matthews.
Ram Joe Curesky cuts through the neutral zone.
Gorham’s Tyler Weeks races a Scarborough opponent along the boards.
Trevor Gray pushes up-ice for the Rams.