Maine Hockey Journal

Horton gave South Portland plenty of motivation

Portland, ME – Playing for a fallen teammate, South Portland used their stored up emotions to storm past cross town rival Portland, 4-1, at Portland Ice Arena on Thursday night.

South Portland was playing without junior defenseman Brendan Horton, who was watching his teammate’s bus head to the rink from his window in the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Horton, who scored the only goal in a 2-1 loss to Falmouth was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.

But, the team made him a part of the game by hanging his jersey on the player’s bench.

“We’re playing for him,” said forward Zach Griffin. Going out there getting (the win) for him, it’s definitely motivation. He’s a big part of the team and someone we miss.

The first two periods of the game were fairly even with both sides managing to create some offensive opportunities.

With 3:32 left in the third, South Portland’s Tommy Ellis threw a puck down deep in the zone. Robert Hannigan won the battle for the puck and found an open Ellis in the slot, who snapped a shot top-shelf past Portland goalie Jon Gatti.

Portland came out in the third, needing only 35 seconds to tie the game, 1-1, after Mike Fuller won the battle in the corner, sending the puck to captain Eddie Apon, who found the back of the net.

That goal was the motivation, if they didn’t have enough motivation before the game, to retake the lead which they did a little over four minutes in the third period.

Josh Cribs ripped a low liner from the blue line past a screened Gatti, giving South Portland the lead.

At 7:17, South Portland went up 3-1 when Griffin cleanly won the faceoff to Ellis, at the point, firing a slapshot through traffic by Gatti.

Griffin added an empty net goal with less than a minute to play in the game, giving South Portland a 4-1 lead

“In the third, and in all honesty, that period was probably the best we’ve played all season,” South Portland Coach Joe Robinson said after the game.

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