GORHAM – Spencer Shields put up a pair of points for Bonny Eagle/Massabesic/Old Orchard Beach vs. visiting Westbrook/Windham on Saturday night, Jan. 21. The narrow battle between friendly rivals kept spectators on tenterhooks until the very final seconds, when W/W pulled within one, then gave themselves a solid opportunity to force overtime. They couldn’t quite capitalize, though, and folded 4-3 in the end.
The MOB struck twice in the early going: Just 61 seconds in, Alex Demers beat W/W goalie Sean White for 1-0, and 75 seconds later, Shields added his first when White lost track of the puck in the crease behind him and Shields tucked it home for 2-0.
W/W’s Dylan Francoeur soon answered, however, powering in close to the MOB net and shoveling a rebound off a Logan Heckman shot past keeper Kyle McKay.
“We had a great first period,” said MOB head coach Loren Blair. “We came out, executed everything very well. They have a good goalie; we gave him a lot of shots in that first period…It’s always good to get that momentum going. It takes a little bit of wind out of their sails, gets your guys fired up.”
“Slow start,” said W/W head coach Greg Leclair. “They got a couple goals that I think Sean would like to have back. That immediately put us behind the eight ball and we’re fighting an uphill battle…We recovered, but we were inconsistent throughout the game. That cost us, when it mattered.”
The action leveled out after Francoeur struck, and seven-plus minutes fell off the clock before either team spoke up again. When that happened, it was the MOB once more, Ajay Cates putting his boys back up by two at 3-1.
Keegan Pock notched another for W/W shortly after the start of the second, assisted by Chris Lekousi, but the team needed more than just a goal to really siphon off the MOB’s head of steam. They also needed to ramp up their defense and cease allowing the MOB to pepper White with shots. They did just that, shutting the MOB down for the entire period and giving up just six stabs at White.
“We didn’t play our best,” Leclair said of W/W’s efforts in the first. “We came into the locker room and had a little talk about what we needed to do better, and we were much better in the second period. I thought we actually controlled the second period.”
“We come out in the second period and fell apart,” said Blair. “We couldn’t make any good passes, a lot of penalties again. We’ve got to do better than that, than five shots in a period.”
The MOB reopened their two-goal advantage midway through the third, Shields tallying his second of the night. The team then successfully killed seven of the last seven and a half minutes, looking like they’d sewn the victory up. But that’s when things got interesting: Derek Corbett hashed one for W/W with just 31 seconds to play.
4-3, and the puck dropped at center ice; it slid back under MOB control, but the team’s pass attempt forward flew off the into their bench, stopping play again and resulting in a faceoff in their zone. A battle ensued. The MOB managed to punch a long shot up the ice toward the empty W/W net – by now, White had vacated his post and Leclair had dispatched a sixth attacker. But the shot slid wide: icing.
“We wanted to be sure the guys that were going to be on the ice were all going to be on the same page about how we were going to play it,” Leclair said of the waning moments. “Right after a goal, center ice faceoff, we’re not going to pull the goaltender right then. We wanted to get the puck down deep; as soon as the puck gets over the blue line, then we pull our goaltender off. Then, this person is going here, here’s who we want to be down in front of the net; know the score, there’s 30 seconds left – you can be patient, but you’ve got to get pucks to the front to get chances to score.”
Play returned, with 5.6 seconds remaining, to the MOB’s end. W/W needed to execute perfectly, getting a shot off and past McKay, if they wanted to force OT. They pulled off the first part of their plan, winning the faceoff and drawing the puck back to their defense for a blast from out near the point. The shot sent the puck through a crowd of bodies – but McKay was there to make the stop, and the clock expired on a 4-3 result.
“Unfortunately, they won a couple puck battles,” Leclair said, “and got the puck over the blue line, and we weren’t able to get back in until five seconds left, when we force another faceoff. A couple years ago, we had a game against them where, late in the game, we called a timeout, offensive zone faceoff, worked the faceoff play, and got the goal. This time, it didn’t work out. That’s the game.”
Blair was happy with his boys’ output against W/W. His senior Captain and leading standout, Tanner McClure, was off the ice for the game, and his other sharpest weapon, Brandon Caron, was on defense for the night and didn’t find the back of the net – but the team’s four goals came from three different players, an encouraging sign.
“These kids stood up. I think our third line got two of them goals early,” Blair said. “They’re playing well. They’re playing our system, they’re buying into it. It’s nice when you go out there and let everyone know, ‘Perform and you’re going to play.’”
Blair praised his defense his well. “The last four or five games, defensively, we’re not giving up many shots. So that’s part of our game plane. Defensively, we’re playing great. All five [defenders] we played tonight contributed. Obviously Brandon plays probably half the game for us, he doesn’t leave the ice, and I’ve got two freshmen that’ve been playing the whole season, Kurtis Morin and Alex Demers.”
“It’s going well,” Blair said of the program’s development. “Like I said, we’ve got a lot of young guys. It’s great to have the guys want to do well and want to play. They’re working hard at practice.”
No. 8 in A South, the MOB moves to 4-4 on the result. The team hosts Portland/Deering on Saturday the 28th.
For their part, No. 8 (in A North) Windham/Westbrook goes to 3-7. The squad travels to Gray-New Gloucester/Poland/Oak Hill/Leavitt on Wednesday the 25th and Noble/Wells on Saturday the 28th.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Tommy Lekousi cuts away from the boards vs. the MOB on Saturday night.
Ben Griffith makes for the MOB net on the attack Saturday night.
Windham/Westbrook’s Derek Corbett slides along the boards vs. the MOB on Saturday night.
Brandon Caron, one of the MOB’s chief offensive weapons, manned a defensive post on Saturday night vs. Windham/Westbrook.
Spencer Shields tallied two for the MOB vs. W/W on Saturday night.
Alex Demers added the MOB’s first of four goals on Saturday night.
Cam Morrison blasts the puck ahead in the offensive zone for Windham/Westbrook.
Cam Roy tracks the action vs. Windham/Westbrook on Saturday night.
Dylan Francoeur drives forward on the attack for Windham/Westbrook on Saturday evening.
Chris Lekouis pulls the trigger vs. the MOB on Saturday night.