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Cape Elizabeth senior Ryan Collins (19) celebrates his go-ahead goal with junior Phil Tarling as Yarmouth senior goalie Dan Latham looks on in dismay during the Capers’ 4-1 victory Saturday night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—With the postseason right around the corner, both the Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth boys’ hockey teams learned something about themselves when they squared off Saturday evening at Troubh Ice Arena.
The Clippers discovered that they still have work to do if they’re going to make a run at a Class B South title.
The Capers, meanwhile, reaffirmed that they just might have what it takes to go all the way.
On its Senior Night, Cape Elizabeth fell behind early, when Yarmouth senior standout Cooper May scored at 4:45 of the first period, but the Capers drew even on a goal from junior Alec Riggle at 10:31 and with 11.8 seconds on the first period clock, senior Ryan Collins scored to put Cape Elizabeth ahead to stay.
The game remained 2-1 after two periods, thanks in large part to the heroics of Clippers senior goalie Dan Latham, but in the span of 29 seconds in the third period, the Capers scored twice to put it away.
With 7:58 left, senior Sean Agrodnia scored on a rebound and with 7:29 remaining, junior Brenden Goss added an insurance tally and Cape Elizabeth went on to a 4-1 victory.
The Capers got goals from four different players and improved to 13-3-2, dropping Yarmouth to 9-5-2 in the process.
“Against Yarmouth, a 2-1 lead is not safe, 3-1 is not safe and at 4-1, I was still sweating bullets because that team just does not quit,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Matt Buotte. “I’m proud of the guys for staying focused and not having a letdown.”
As has been the case often in recent years, both Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth have been top contenders this winter.
The Capers opened with a 3-1 victory at Gorham, then downed visiting St. Dom’s (4-2). A key overtime victory at Greely (5-4) kept the good times rolling and Cape Elizabeth then won at Maranacook (9-1), at home over Brunswick (5-4), at Scarborough (5-1), at home over Maranacook (4-0) and at Gardiner (7-1). The Capers’ win streak ended with a 3-3 tie at Cony, but they got back in the win column, 10-1, at Kennebunk. After a 5-1 home loss to Edward Little, Cape Elizabeth handled visiting York by an 8-1 margin. After a 5-1 loss to Class A South power Cheverus, the Capers handled host South Portland (9-1), settled for a 3-3 tie at Yarmouth, then last Saturday, beat visiting Kennebunk (6-3)
The Clippers lost their first game, 6-1, at home to York, then edged host Gorham in overtime (3-2), lost in overtime to visiting Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon (6-5) and after a 7-1 home win over Maranacook, opened the 2018 portion of their schedule with a 3-3 tie at Portland/Deering. Yarmouth then turned it up a notch, edging visiting Waterville (4-3, in overtime) and Gorham (1-0) and host Gardiner (3-2). After a 5-1 loss at Greely, the Clippers lost at St. Dom’s (2-0), beat host Brunswick (5-1), tied visiting Cape Elizabeth (3-3), then won at Kennebunk (5-0), at home over Camden Hills (3-0) and at Edward Little (2-1).
In the first meeting, the game was scoreless into the third period, where both teams scored three times. Freshman Gavin Simpoulos scored for Cape Elizabeth with 24 seconds to go to forge the tie.
Entering play Saturday, since the start of the 2001-02 season, Cape Elizabeth had won 24 of 32 meetings (see sidebar, below), while Yarmouth had seven victories and another game ended in a tie.
Last year, the Capers won the two regular season meetings: 4-3 in overtime at home and 3-2 on the road, but the Clippers had the last laugh with a 4-1 quarterfinal round playoff upset.
Saturday, the Capers honored seven seniors and their families, then went out and took care of business.
Cape Elizabeth came out strong and 35 seconds in, got a good look from senior Alex Glidden, but Latham made the stop.
After May shot wide and senior Dom Morrill had a shot saved by Capers senior goalie Peter Haber, May gave the Clippers a 1-0 lead when he took a pass from senior Matt Sanborn, skated in and fired a shot past Haber with 10:15 left in the first period.
After Haber kept his team in it by denying Morrill twice, May once, then stopping a shot from junior Kurt Heywood, Cape Elizabeth drew even with 4:29 remaining, as Riggle took a pass from Collins and fired a shot from up top that eluded Latham to tie the score, 1-1.
After Yarmouth killed one penalty, the Capers went on the power play again and with 11.8 seconds left, Collins, sitting in front, took a pass from junior Phil Tarling, and sent the puck past Latham for a 2-1 lead which held into the first intermission.
“We’ve practiced that countless times all year,” said Collins. “It’s just a give-and-go with me and Phil. He’s behind the net and I one-time it.”
The Clippers had their chances to pull even in the second period, as they twice went on the power play, but Haber denied both May and Morrill and stopped a bid from sophomore Spencer King as well.
Late in the period, Cape Elizabeth went on the power play, but Collins was denied and Latham stopped a rush from senior Derek Allen.
In the final minute, Latham stopped a breakaway attempt from Tarling, then kicked away a promising shot from Allen to keep the score 2-1 heading for the third period.
There, the Capers finally put it away.
May nearly tied the score with 11:56 to go, but Haber robbed his back-handed bid.
Seconds later, Morrill had consecutive good looks, but Haber stopped those as well.
After Yarmouth killed a penalty, Cape Elizabeth brought a quick end to the competitive phase of the contest.
With 7:58 left, Agrodnia’s rebound tally off a shot from sophomore Jonas Moon made it 3-1.
Just as soon as that goal had been announced, Goss scored unassisted and the lead with three.
Haber made one more key save on May and the Capers went on to a 4-1 victory.
“It’s huge for us,” Collins said. “It means a lot to the seniors to beat a rival like Yarmouth. I was expecting a battle, but we have full confidence we’re the better team.”
“We just continued to press,” Buotte said. “Once we got the third goal, we smelled blood in the water. We’ve built toward a game like that. Often on Senior Night, the message is to win it for the seniors, but tonight, I knew the seniors were going to win it for us. All seven of those guys wanted to go out on top tonight. Pete was unbelievable tonight in net. Agrodnia had a big goal. What more can you say about Glidden and Collins? They’re phenomenal.
“Tonight doesn’t mean anything in truth. It’s a good win, but at the end of the day, it’s a regular season win against a team in our conference, but it’s what we’re supposed to do so we can’t get too excited. We beat them twice in the regular season last year and it didn’t mean much. At the end of the day, it’s Heal Points and nothing more.”
Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance.
“(Cape) wanted it more than we did,” St. Pierre said. “I can’t be more disappointed in our effort tonight. It wasn’t the hockey we wanted to see. It was a playoff atmosphere and we didn’t show up. Credit to (Cape). They outworked us in every facet of the game and they earned that victory. We did what we were supposed to do at the beginning, then we went back to bad habits and made poor decisions with the puck. You can’t do that against a team like that because they’re going to capitalize. Dan is our senior leader back there. He keeps us in games, but when other guys don’t show up, it’s hard to keep the puck out of the net.”
Yarmouth finishes with home games against Greely Monday and Gardiner Thursday of next week. The Clippers were third in the Class B South Heal Points standings at press time.
“We have to learn from this,” St. Pierre said. “We have a lot of thinking to do or we’ll end up in the same place.”
Cape Elizabeth (second in the region at press time) has one game remaining, Thursday at home versus Gorham. If the Capers wind up first or second, they’ll go directly to Lewiston for the semifinals.
“We have one more regular season game, then it’s playoffs,” Collins said. “But we treat each game now as playoffs. That started a few games back. We want the bye. Tonight makes it that much more likely. I think we’re closer this year. We have a strong bond that I haven’t seen in my three years. Our level of confidence is high. I think we know we can be the best team in Class B.”
“I think we’re ready for the playoffs,” Buotte said. “Everyone is hungry this time of year. The guys give me everything I ask for. They’re showing up every day and they have their sights set on playing hard at the end. Whether or not we get there, I know we’ll give whoever we play the best game we can.”
Cape Elizabeth senior Alex Glidden and Yarmouth senior Matt Sanborn fight for the puck.
Yarmouth senior goalie Dan Latham robs Cape Elizabeth junior Phil Tarling.
Yarmouth senior Cooper May tries to get through Cape Elizabeth sophomore Matthew Laughlin (14) and junior Alec Riggle. May had the Clippers’ lone goal.
Cape Elizabeth senior Ryan Collins races in and has a shot saved by Yarmouth senior goalie Dan Latham.
Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Peter Haber denies a shot from Yarmouth junior Alec Morton.
Yarmouth senior Dom Morrill tries to get to a loose puck in front.
Yarmouth 7 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 5 Yarmouth 3
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 5 Yarmouth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 5
Cape Elizabeth 8 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 0
Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 5 Yarmouth 2
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Yarmouth 1
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
Cape Elizabeth 7 @ Yarmouth 1
Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 3 (OT)
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1 (OT)
Western B semifinals
Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 3