Meghan Abel of Greely/Gray-New Gloucester covers the puck as Emily Demers of Portland/Greely gets tangled with Kerry Roberts of Greely while breaking towards the net in the third period Thursday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)
PORTLAND — In a wild back-and-forth shootout, the All-State forward scored five goals.
But the game was won by the team with a girl who never played hockey before.
Greely/Gray-New Gloucester beat Portland/Deering 8-6 on Thursday night at Troubh Arena.
Emily Demers scored five goals for Portland, including three in a 1:34 span of the second period. Her fourth goal gave Portland a 5-4 lead in the third period.
The Rangers, though, rallied and held on behind first-time goalie Meghan Abel, who made 18 saves.
Not bad for someone who admittedly is shaky on skates. Greely didn’t have a returning goalie. Abel, a junior, thought about coming out.
“I was kind of on the fence about it but I figured, ‘You know what, I’ll just go for it and give it a shot.’ I don’t know how to skate but the team is very welcoming and encouraged me,” Abel said.
Abel almost knocked in the first puck that came her way.
“I thought I did,” she said, “but I looked back and (the puck) was still there.”
Abel settled down and played a full game for the first time.
“We saw some stuff from her we haven’t seen before,” Greely coach Nate Guerin said. “She made some great saves. She was focused. She was determined.”
Both teams were coming off season-opening losses Saturday. Greely (1-1) found out how tough state favorite Lewiston is in an 11-1 rout. Portland (0-2) saw a 4-0 lead vanish in a 7-6 upset to Falmouth.
Against Greely, Portland trailed 4-1 before Demers scored four unanswered goals
“The resolve we showed to come back and tie it is what I was hoping to get from the beginning,” Portland coach Tom Clifford said. “Greely, regardless of their numbers, is still the standard.”
Greely graduated most of its offense. On Thursday, Greely was paced by Madison Pelletier (two goals, two assists), Camilla Latanzi (two goals, one assist), Kerry Roberts (one goal, two assists) and Leah Walker (one goal, two assists). Linnea Koivisto and Sawyer Dusch also scored.
Besides Demers, Inez Braceras scored for Portland.
“Up and down game,” Demers said. “We have only two lines, we’re trying to connect with each other. It’s coming.”
Demers outskated her defender to score at 4:51 of the third period for a 5-4 lead.
Greely countered with goals by Latanzi, Roberts and Dusch in 52 seconds for a 7-5 lead.
“Once they got the emotions up, they started rolling,” Guerin said. “Both teams left it all on the ice.”
Demers scored at 11:25, closing to 7-6.
“Almost every time she got the puck, it was a scoring chance,” Guerin said. “She was a real handful.”
Eventually, Portland pulled its goalie and Walker scored the empty-netter at 13:51.
“We were getting nervous,” said Pelletier, the Greely forward, “but we regrouped.”
Leah Walker of Greely/Gray-New Gloucester tries to knock down the puck in front of Inez Braceras of Portland/Deering in the first period Thursday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)
Greely/Gray-New Gloucester teammates celebrate a goal by Madison Pelletier in the second period Thursday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)
Camilla Latanzi of Greely/Gray-New Gloucester celebrates with teammates after scoring in the second period Thursday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)
Meghan Abel of Greely/Gray-New Gloucester looks to stop a shot by Caroline Lerch of Portland/Deering on Thursday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)