PORTLAND—They were done in by their nemesis.
Cape Elizabeth lost to York, 5-1, Saturday in the Western Class B semifinals at Portland Ice Arena.
It was the third-seeded Capers’ third loss to the second-ranked Wildcats this season.
This one was season ending.
Two first period goals, one on the power play and one shorthanded, were all York needed. A strong forecheck, a stingy defense and strong goaltending by Alex Ahrikenchikh frustrated the Capers and made the lead stand.
“They put a lot of pressure on us, making our defenseman do more with the puck,” Cape Elizabeth coach Bill Leblond said. “We had a heck of a time trying to get the puck out of the zone and that really frustrated us a lot.”
“This is (Ahrikenchikh’s) third year in the playoffs, which gives him an advantage over our guy,” Lebond added. “He looks calm and collected.”
Ahrikenchikh made 28 saves, including 12 in the final period.
At 8:41 in the first period, Cape Elizabeth junior Nick Breed was sent to the box for a crosscheck. Just 16 seconds later, Craig Decato one-timed a pass from Anthony Figlioli by Cape Elizabeth goalie Jake Rosenfield to score from the right circle.
Figlioli then scored shorthanded on a pass from Decato 11:00 into the period following a Capers turnover in the defensive end.
Cape Elizabeth had multiple chances of its on in the opening period. The Capers came up empty on two power plays and had three breakaway shots at Ahrikenchikh, two by Matt Ross and one by Brandon Negele. Ahrikenchikh shut the door on all three.
“If a few of those had gone in, it would have made things a lot easier for us,” Leblond said. “Not getting those goals certainly deflated things for us.”
Trailing, 2-0, Cape Elizabeth’s season hung on the hopes of a comeback.
“We have had a couple of games this year where we’ve gotten behind,” Leblond said. “We haven’t really been a come-from-behind team. We had one come from behind win. We don’t have the experience coming from behind.”
The Capers cut the lead in half early in the second when Nick Breed backhanded in a rebound in a scrum in front of the net. York answered, however, with a goal by Conor O’Brien 8:24 into the second and another by Decato with 33 seconds remaining in the period to make the score 4-1.
Cape Elizabeth would make no real threat of a comeback in the third. The Capers were whistled for four minor penalties in the period, all but dooming any hopes of regaining momentum. Figlioli made it 5-1, scoring his second goal of the game, knocking in a rebound with 32 seconds remaining.
York moves on to face longtime playoff rival Greely Wednesday in the Western B Final at the Colisee in Lewiston. Greely defeated Yarmouth, 4-2, Saturday in the other semifinal.
This was Leblond’s first season back coaching hockey after a 16-year absence. He last coached at Scarborough, guiding the Red Storm to a state championship
“(Cape) didn’t get into the playoffs last year,” Leblond said. “This year we made it. Our goal next year will be to get back into the playoffs and give it another go…and beat York.”