Women’s hockey: Scarborough running out of numbers, but off to a quick start
GORHAM – The puck is moving fast as the Scarborough High women’s hockey team begins training at the University of Southern Maine.
Band to band. TIC Tac. TIC Tac.
Skate fast. Go quickly. It is as much a conditioning exercise as anything else. And the Red Storm needs all the conditioning it can get.
The Scarborough women’s ice hockey team has just 13 players: 11 skaters and two goalies.
âOur biggest battle this year will be conditioning and hockey legs,â said coach Taylor Fowler. âYou can never condition them enough for such a small bench. “
This is a big drop from the 2019-20 season, when the Red Storm had 20 skaters and a goaltender in a team that went 15-1-2 in the regular season and s’ is qualified for the regional championship game, or even last year’s shortened pandemic. season when they had 18 skaters and a goalie on a team that played three games.
But it also reflects a growing trend in women’s hockey: Since the 2017-18 season, when the sport peaked in Maine with 457 girls competing, the numbers have steadily declined. In the 2019-20 season – the last for which attendance figures are available – only 384 girls participated.
As small as Scarborough’s roster is, the Red Storms are off to a quick start. At 4-1, they’re the top-ranked team in the South, on a four-game winning streak that includes last week’s 4-2 victory over Lewiston, the top-ranked team in the North.
âI think it really boosted the confidence,â said senior center Evelyn Boardman, who leads Scarborough with nine goals, including two in the Lewiston game. âAnd that will give us a mentality that we need to go into other games and come out with a win. It showed how we can really play.
Scarborough trains and plays its home games at USM Ice Arena, with Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena serving as a secondary training site. The team’s only loss came in their first game, a 6-1 decision over Cheverus / Old Orchard Beach / Kennebunk / Windham.
âThe first game, I think we had a bad mentality,â said senior goaltender AJ Swett, who recorded two shutouts. âI don’t think we were mentally prepared for what was happening to us. After that we got a lot more humble and saw ourselves as a bit of an underdog. “
Boardman and Swett are among nine seniors on the list, which was filled when they recruited four sophomores. They’ve pretty much spoken to every teammate they’ve had on other sports teams in Scarborough. âWe asked ‘Do you want to play hockey?’ Said senior wing Meagan Donovan, who leads the Red Storm in scoring with 11 points (five goals, six assists).
These sophomores, who include three hockey players for the first time, have improved considerably. âNew players show a lot more confidence which helps us be successful,â said Fowler.
And she attributes part of that to the elderly. âThey’re all very good at coaching young players,â said Fowler. âQuite often during training you will see (the seniors) taking them aside. “
Having a short bench means short shifts, smart games, and few penalties. Scarborough has received just nine penalties in its first five games. âWe’re not less aggressive, but smarter,â Donovan said. âWithout retaliation. We have been told that since the beginning of the year.
At times, Swett will tie the puck on a rebound to give her teammates a break. Elder Lillian Finley, one of three defensemen on the team, said it’s important to drive the puck deep into the offensive end, so defenders can breathe. Forwards Donovan and Boardman say quick passes save strides and keep legs cooler.
Most important, Finley said, is that you look out for each other.
âIf you’re out for more than a minute, we know you’re going to need a longer recovery time,â Finley said. “And when someone is tired, we tell them to give you a minute, breathe a little, and then do whatever you can to help the team.”
The specter of next year already hangs over this team. With just four returning players, it’s possible this will be the last season the school plays as a free-standing team. Of the state’s 16 women’s ice hockey teams, only five are one-school teams: Lewiston, Brunswick, Greely, Falmouth and Scarborough.
While this will be the last year as a standalone school, the seniors want to make sure it is a season to remember.
âWe’ve all thought about it,â Swett said. âWe want to make sure we leave it in the right place and we’re proud of what we’ve left behind. “
But athletic director Mike LeGage said it was far too early to start thinking that way.
âFrom my experience, you don’t know what’s going to happen from year to year in high school track and field,â he said. âSo we’re taking it step by step with this. â¦ We certainly hope to be able to continue as we have been and the younger ones will step up and continue.