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South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete’s Bradley McMains celebrates a goal during the Red Riots’ 4-2 win over Cheverus in last week’s Class A South semifinals.
(Ed. Note: For the complete Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth and South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)
At press time, just one local boys’ hockey team remained in the postseason.
After Scarborough and the South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete co-op team were eliminated in last week’s Class A South tournament, Cape Elizabeth advanced to the Class B South Final.
Last winter, Cape Elizabeth dropped a painful 3-2 decision to rival Greely in the Class B South Final.
This season, the Capers finished second in the region and a pair of close calls, got back to the regional final.
Last Wednesday, Cape Elizabeth hosted No. 7 Yarmouth in the quarterfinals and after the game went to the third period scoreless, Gavin Simopoulos put the Capers ahead with 7:26 to play.
“We had a nice defensive break out,” said Simopoulos. “I was lucky enough to make a move, then I shot high on the goalie. It was a good team goal. I honestly thought it didn’t go in, but when it did, I was excited.”
Phil Tarling added an empty net goal with 15.7 seconds remaining and Cape Elizabeth advanced, 2-0. Goalie Garrett Mello made 16 saves.
“I thought we had the better of play, so I just wanted us to do the stuff we were doing a little bit better,” Cape Elizabeth first-year coach Jacob Rutt said. “Yarmouth played a great game overall. They had a game plan and they stuck to it. I just love how we were resilient and fought through.”
The Capers moved on to meet No. 6 Brunswick in the semifinals Friday in Lewiston and got pushed before winning, 6-4. Tarling, Brady Eavenson and Jonas Moon all scored for a 3-1 lead after one period, but the Dragons rallied to tie it and the game went to the third period even at 3-3. Andrew Carroll then put Cape Elizabeth on top, but again Brunswick rallied to tie. Simopoulos produced the winner with 1:48 left on the power play.
“It felt nice coming off the stick there,” said Simopoulos. “Brunswick competed really hard, and at times I didn’t think we were ready for it. We were confident coming in and we will be ready for that next game.”
Traling then clinched the 6-4 win with 26 seconds to go with an empty net goal.
“Hats off to (Brunswick) and their coaching staff, they had them geared up and ready for a great game,” said Rutt. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got the ‘W’ and we’re onto the next round.”
The Capers (15-5) battled 17-2 Greely in the regional final Wednesday night in Lewiston (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Rangers won both meetings this winter, 5-1 at home Dec. 22 and 3-1 Feb. 16 in Portland. Greely was 6-3 all-time against the Capers in the playoffs.
If Cape Elizabeth advanced to play in its first state final since winning its most recent championship in 2006, it would meet either Old Town/Orono (14-5) or Waterville/Winslow (14-5) Saturday at 1 p.m., in Lewiston. The Capers didn’t face either team this year.
Scarborough finished fourth in Class A South, but was eliminated at home by No. 5 Portland/Deering, 4-1, in its quarterfinal last week to finish the year 10-8-1. Dawson Gendreau had the goal and Sam Rumelhart had an assist.
“This year I thought we made some big jumps in the right direction,” said Red Storm coach Jacob Brown. “Going from 3-15 a year ago to 10-7-1 this year took a lot of hard and commitment from this group of guys. This year, I thought we found an identity as a team. When we played our best hockey, we pressured the puck relentlessly and made teams have to work the full length of the ice.
:We were still a young team this year with only four seniors. We have emphasized good D-zone with these guys since they entered the program, and I thought they were really committed to playing as a unit and having good D-zone structure. In 12 out of our 18 regular season games, we let up two or less goals. We battled in every game and when you show up every game and give yourself a chance to win, I think that is a sign of a good hockey team.
“This is a huge win,” said Red Riots coach Joe Robinson. “Early in the year, it was looking pretty grim, but we’ve battled back and put together some big wins. We’re playing well right now. I’m very proud.”
SP/Freeport/Waynflete then went to Lewiston for the semifinals Saturday, for just the third time in program history, to meet No. 2 Biddeford, the defending regional champion, and lost, 3-1, to finish 11-9. Andrew Burns scored the Red Riots’ goal, but they couldn’t convert on a penalty shot and fell just short.
“We gave them a game,” Robinson said. “We had our chances. We played really well. We had plenty of chances to score. If we hit that (penalty shot) and it’s 2-2 and momentum swings to us and our crowd, but their goalie (Justin Larnerd) played really well.”
Times Record staff writer Bob Conn contributed to this story.