Boys' hockey: Thornton Academy rallies to beat South Portland co-op for Class A title
Mar. 11—It was the same locker room the Thornton Academy boys' hockey team used last year at the state championship game, when they lost in double overtime to Scarborough. Trailing South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete by two goals after the first period Saturday, the Golden Trojans remembered that gut-punch feeling and felt it creeping back.
Coach Jamie Gagnon let senior captain Lucas Hubbard remind the team they had been in a similar position, and they didn't want to sit in this same room and feel that way again when the game was over.
"(Hubbard) doesn't say much, so when you have a captain who doesn't say much the rest of year, (and) he steps up and says a few words, everybody tends to react and listen," Gagnon said.
The second-seeded Trojans rallied, scoring three goals in the second period and two more in the third to take a 5-3 win in the Class A state championship game at Cross Insurance Arena.
It's the first state title since 2012 for the Golden Trojans, who completed the season with a 17-4 record. South Portland, the No. 5 seed, ends the season at 12-9.
The Red Riots took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from Hewitt Sykes and Tobey Lappin and had the momentum after outshooting Thornton 10-6 in the period.
"We go down 2-0 in the first, everyone goes into that locker room demolished," said Thornton goalie Porter Krause, who finished with 35 saves. "But we didn't give up. We fought back. They had my back."
The Trojans opened the second period with 44 seconds left on a power play. One second after the advantage ended, Gavin Pellerin scored to cut the Red Riots' lead in half.
At 7:49, Pellerin took a pass from Kyle Lesieur and stuffed the puck past goalie Jasper Curtis at the left post to tie the game.
"We have to work a lot harder than we did in the first, or we're not going to win it. Ultimately, that's what motivated us to do what we did in the second period," Pellerin said.
Jacob Marcotte's goal at 9:46, with an assist from Pellerin, gave the Trojans the lead for good.
South Portland Coach Joe Robinson thought his team let Thornton dictate play in the second period.
"What I thought happened was, you get a lead, then you start to deviate from what you were doing to get the lead. You start to look for things to happen instead of making things happen," Robinson said.
Back-to-back saves by Krause in the final minute of the second kept the Trojans ahead, and the momentum carried into the third. Shane Bergeron's goal just 17 seconds into the third pushed the lead to 4-2.
"It's really easy to play in front of Porter because he works so hard back there. It's obvious the rest of those guys get a lift when he makes one of those saves," Gagnon said.
Sykes scored his second goal at 6:05, cutting Thornton's lead to 4-3, but Evan Beaudette's breakaway goal at 10:46 capped the scoring. The Red Riots' chances for a comeback were hurt when they took a pair of penalties and spent the final four minutes fending off the Trojans' power play.
Curtis made 25 saves for the Red Riots.
"We just went into that third with a head of steam and put it away," Krause said.