DOVER — The bond between Wayne Shaheen and Shane Maurice has remained strong ever since Shaheen last coached Maurice at Somersworth High School over a decade ago.
Wednesday night provided the first regular season opportunity for Maurice, now the third-year coach of the Somersworth/Coe-Brown boys hockey team, to match coaching wits with his mentor, who is in his second season guiding St. Thomas Aquinas.
Maurice’s Bearcats put up a fight and closed to within 2-1 of the Saints early in the third period, but Chase Gagnon’s short-handed goal a few minutes later sparked a three-goal flury to end regulation for St. Thomas in its 5-1 Division II victory inside Dover Arena.
“He’s like a son to me,” Shaheen said. “He was really fun to coach, and it’s pretty special to coach against him. He has another one of my former players (Shawn Desmarais) on his bench, so I guess that means I’m getting old.”
“They compete, their goalie played hard, but I do think our depth helped us out, particularly in the third period,” Shaheen added. “We started figuring it out, and I think that short-handed goal gave us a lift.”
Maurice even sported a cowboy hat behind the bench on Wednesday night in homage to Shaheen, of which he has made his trademark look. Maurice excelled under Shaheen until his graduation in 2006.
“Wayne is like a father figure to me, so it’s fun. ” Maurice said. “We put that hats on — we give him a hard time about his cowboy hat — but it’s nothing but respect. He took care of me and pretty much taught me everything I know.”
St. Thomas (5-1) won its fifth straight game on the strength of its special teams, and it didn’t matter if it had the upper hand or not. Will MacLean scored the first of his two goals off a power play to give the Saints a 1-0 lead nearly four minutes into the game.
After the Saints killed off two penalties in the second, Matthis Savard scooped up a loose puck and put it over the shoulder of Bearcats’ goalie Kevin Baker (19 saves) to give the Saints a 2-0 lead with 4:18 left in the second.
Somersworth/Coe-Brown (2-3-1) was granted a 5-on-3 advantage following two St. Thomas penalties at the end of the second, but Savard and an Alex Anderson played strong in front of and goalie Hannes Demegard (19 saves). Will Sawyer hit the post and Demegard stonewalled a Gage Gagne rebound attempt off a Cam Frank shot as time expired to kill the penalty.
“We were just flying to the puck and trying to get it out of the zone. They had their chances, but fortunately the didn’t score,” Savard said. “It was nice to finish off a 3-on-5 PK.”
Jake Pelletier scored three minutes into the the third to slice the deficit to 2-1, and the Bearcats were given another power play. Demegard stopped a Matt Kelly shot, and the ensuing result was an eventual breakaway short-handed goal by Gagnon to give St. Thomas a 3-1 lead with 8:29 remaining.
“I just sort of blocked the shot and it was just there and just went off on breakaway,” Gagnon said. “It was not quite where I wanted to put the puck, but it went in.”
MacLean followed with his second goal three minutes later off a Savard assist, while Paddy Vetter found Matt Barnes for the final goal with two minutes remaining.
“St. Thomas is a heck of a team, and with our limited numbers, we kept up with them until seven minutes left in the third,” Maurice said. “You saw are youth and our bench isn’t very big. You’ve got to keep on playing hard to keep up with a team like that.”
Both teams are of until next Wednesday when the Bearcats play Dover and St. Thomas travels to Windham.
“We’ve worked hard on the penalty kill and we’ve score quite a few short-handed goals, so I like what we’re doing in that regard,” Shaheen said. “Our special team are doing well. Five-on-five we’re still juggling lines and see what kind of chemistry happens.”