PORTLAND—Derek Corbett powered up-ice and beat Cheverus keeper Jason Halvorsen early in Windham/Westbrook’s road bout at the Stags on Saturday evening, Jan. 20, giving his boys a quick, heartening lead over A South’s No. 2 team. But W/W couldn’t hang on: Down just 2-1 at the start of the third, they soon gassed out, gave up four goals and ultimately succumbed 6-1.
“Our kids, for the first two periods, did everything we asked them to do,” said Windham/Westbrook head Greg Leclair. “We know Cheverus is a talented team, we know they’ve got as many seniors as we have freshman in the lineup, and our kids worked hard.”
For the first five minutes, W/W – eighth-ranked in A North – looked almost the Stags’ match. Corbett’s strike came at 11:38: Unassisted, he crashed the length of the ice, ducking around a Stags defender and pounding the puck past Halvorsen for 1-0. But Cheverus soon settled in and began applying increased pressure. The Stags forced the action back into W/W’s zone and largely held it there.
“We were coming in a bit overmatched, but we wanted to win the game in five-minute battles,” Leclair said. “Five-minute increments. We won the first five, they won the second five…From there, we made them work.”
Luckily, between the pipes for W/W this year is Sean White, easily the team’s rock. Cheverus peppered White with shot after shot, but White stood strong, delivering a number of spectacular saves – at 9:02 he tracked, for example, a close-on, lightning-fast Stags one-timer, turning in a save on a shot many goalies wouldn’t realize had happened at all, not until their lamp lit up and the ref’s whistle blew.
“Everything begins and ends with him,” Leclair said, asked about White’s contributions. “He’s able to set the tone for our team; if we’re not playing well, he can keep us in it – and for two periods, he did. In the first period, he made one of the most ridiculous glove saves I’ve seen in a high school game in a long time, on a two-on-one where I’m pretty sure the kid who shot the puck was celebrating before it left his stick.”
“It’s really too bad the score looks like it did at the end of the game,” Leclair said, “because it really doesn’t tell the story of how Sean played tonight…We’re being competitive because of him. ”
But even White was bound to buckle eventually. Cheverus balanced the scoreboard midway through the first on a Luke Church feed to Colby Anton, who tallied on a breakaway. Less than a minute later, the Stags generated another breakaway, but White refused to be fooled a second time, following Alex Brewer’s every move and making the save.
Early in the second, W/W gave up a man to the penalty box, and the Stags capitalized – Marco Giancotti shoveled to Cam Dube, whose shot ricocheted off a W/W stick; the deflected puck found a higher angle and eluded White for 2-1.
“To be down 2-1 after two,” Leclair said, “I was pleased with it. We got a bad break on the second goal – it went off one of our guy’s sticks and deflected in, otherwise the puck was going wide.”
That score would’ve sufficed to secure Cheverus the game, in the end. But they maintained their momentum in the third, notching four more: Barely 1:30 in, Giancotti assisted Anton on 3-1; 45 seconds later, Brewer and Jackson Wilson assisted Dube on 4-1; with 3:13 remaining, Brewer assisted Mike Hatch on 5-1; and with 2:35 to go, Brewer assisted Dube on his hat trick, the 6-1 cherry-on-top.
“Third period, we just ran out of gas,” Leclair said. “Their experience, their strength, their size rose to the top, and we’ve got a bunch of guys that are punching up out of their weight class a little bit.”
The win bumped Cheverus to 6-2-1. The Stags traveled to Lewiston (first in A North at 10-0) on Wednesday the 24th; they visit Cape Elizabeth (second in B South at 9-1-1) on Saturday the 27th.
W/W, meanwhile, slid to 2-6. The team hosted Gorham (sixth in B South at 2-7) on Wednesday, and travels to Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse (seventh in A North, 3-7) on Monday the 29th.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
W/W’s Robert Maynard and Cheverus’s Jackson Header clash.
Windham/Westbrook netminder Sean White denies a breakaway attempt by Stag Alex Brewer.
Derek Corbett shovels a puck past Cheverus keeper Jason Halvorsen early in the teams’ matchup.
W/W’s Holden Anderson follows Cheverus’s Mike Hatch behind the Stags’ goal.
Ben Griffith takes control for W/W.