AUBURN — A regulation hockey game is three periods long, and being the better team in two of the three doesn’t guarantee success.
Edward Little had advantages in shots and possession in both the first and third periods, but a power-play goal for Yarmouth in the second was the difference for the Clippers in a 2-1 boys’ hockey victory at Norway Saving Bank Arena on Monday.
“We had some opportunities, and the difference in the game is we didn’t score and take advantage of our opportunities,” EL coach Norm Gagne said. “They capitalized on the few mistakes that we made and got goals out of it, and we didn’t on their’s.”
The Clippers (9-4-2) wasted little time taking the initial lead. Matt Sanborn’s lofted shot from the point — Yarmouth’s first shot on goal of the game — eluded EL goalie Gavin Toussaint just before the three-minute mark.
“That was a blown coverage,” Gagne said. “There was nobody in that area to challenge that shot. And it seemed like we all got caught below the dots. And for some reason or another, Gavin, I don’t think ever saw that shot.”
The Red Eddies (9-6-1) soon tilted the shots in their favor, and they tied the game just over two minutes later. Ben Lane-Robichaud took a feed from Alex Landry and went left-to-right in front of Yarmouth goalie Dan Latham before beating him for the tying goal.
EL finished with a dominant 11-3 advantage in shots on goal in the first, but went into the first intermission still tied 1-1.
“I thought they did definitely carry the play in the first period,” Yarmouth coach David St. Pierre said. “I thought Dan, our goalie, did a really good job of holding them at bay. And then we talked between periods about shoring up our defensive zone. We were losing one of their forwards high in the zone, and we kind of tightened that up and made sure that that was under control, and I thought that helped us kind of regain some of the balance in the game that we were looking for.”
A game of revolving penalty-box door tag in the second eventually led to the Clippers going ahead again. With 1:25 left in the period, and one minute into a power play, Kurt Heywood’s persistence at a loose puck was the third-time-charm the Clippers needed to get it past Toussaint and make it 2-1.
“I thought (Gavin) was going to cover it, and we had nobody pushing guys out of the way,” Gagne said. “They must have got 20 whacks at it before they put it in.”
The teams combined for seven penalties and two completed power plays apiece in the second. A late EL penalty gave the Clippers almost an entire power play to start the third.
“We took some dumb penalties in the second,” Gagne said. “We’re a good team when we play 5-on-5, and here we are at the end of the season and we still have guys that are taking penalties in the offensive zone or getting their hands up where they know they don’t belong.”
The Red Eddies again had the edge in shots on goal in the third, putting 10 on frame the the Clippers’ five. But none went in for either team.
“I think it was just a matter of kind of playing good, strong defensive-zone hockey, and then being able to move the puck well in the neutral zone and get pucks deep into their corners to make them have to go the whole way,” St. Pierre. “It was just basic, strong defensive hockey — working hard, battling for each other, and making sure we had good support behind the puck.”
Latham stopped 29 of 30 shots, while Toussaint made 19 saves.
The loss hurt the Red Eddies’ chances of creating separation for the No. 2 spot in Class A North from St. Dominic Academy and Bangor.
“Our destiny was in our hands, and now we got to hope for somebody helping us out along the way,” Gagne said.
St. Pierre called the win a “big” one for his team.
“Beating any Class A opponent — we’re a small, little Class B school — it’s always good to beat Class A teams. We try to schedule some tough crossover games to make us ready for playoffs,” St. Pierre said. “So this is a big win for us. They’re worth some points for us, and coming up here and winning on the road is a nice win for us.”