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PORTLAND—For three games, the Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete co-op girls’ hockey team was showing signs of improvement, but had no victories to show for it.
That all changed in a big way Saturday afternoon at Portland Ice Arena.
Capeflete was down, 3-1, to Falmouth early in the second period and appeared destined for frustration, but its offense roared to life.
After pulling within 4-3 after two periods, Capeflete tied the score, 4-4, on freshman Hannah Bosworth’s goal just eight seconds into the third. When junior Julia Ginder backhanded a shot into the net with 8:18 to play, Capeflete had its first lead, but Falmouth, as it did all afternoon, took advantage of a power play opportunity to tie the score, 5-5, courtesy sophomore Martina St. Angelo.
On this day, however, Capeflete wasn’t to be denied.
With 1:55 showing, junior Allison Mills rebounded a shot from Katie Ewald into the cage to put her team on top to stay. Capeflete held on for dear life from there and improved to 1-3 on the young season with a scintillating 6-5 victory, dropping the Yachtsmen to 0-2 in the process.
“It was a big game,” said Capeflete coach Bob Mills. “It’s a huge victory for the program. It’s good for our psyche. The girls anticipated we’d have a game like this. We’ve been building up to this point.”
Capeflete went 4-11-3 last year and failed to make the playoffs. This season, it opened with a 5-0 loss at Leavitt/Edward Little, fell, 5-1, to vastly improved visiting Yarmouth/Freeport, then was blanked by host Scarborough, last year’s state runners-up, 6-0.
Falmouth, meanwhile, has been a top contender since the Maine Principals’ Association started sanctioning girls’ hockey in 2008-09. Last winter, the Yachtsmen finished 11-8 after a 3-2 loss to York in the West Region semifinals. This season, they opened with a 4-1 setback at Scarborough.
Prior to Saturday, over the past five years, Falmouth held a 6-1-1 advantage in the rivalry. Capeflete did win at the Yachtsmen last year, 2-1.
This time around, Falmouth appeared headed for a win, but Capeflete saved its best for last.
Early on, Capeflete junior goalie Lily Jordan stood tall, denying Yachtsmen freshman Caroline Proctor point blank, then robbing sophomore Sarah Hutcheon on a breakaway and kicking away a rebound bid from freshman Evie Clement.
Falmouth finally broke through with 7:28 to play in the first period, 11 seconds after going on the power play, as sophomore Camden Carrier assisted a goal by Proctor for a 1-0 lead.
It took all of 43 seconds for the Yachtsmen to strike again, as they scored their lone even strength goal of the game. This time, Hutcheon finished (Clement was credited with the assist) and Falmouth appeared to be in good shape.
Capeflete then awakened thanks to a power play tally of its own.
With 3:57 left in the first period, senior Gretchen Stevens banged home a rebound of freshman Kate Ginder’s shot and the hosts had life.
Late in the frame, Jordan saved a point blank bid by St. Angelo and senior Lucy Meyer sent the rebound just wide, keeping the score 2-1 heading for the second period.
There, Falmouth went on the power play 43 seconds in and 33 seconds later, another Capeflete player was sent off, giving the Yachtsmen a 5-on-3 opportunity, which they quickly converted.
It would be St. Angelo finishing, skaing through the defense before beating Jordan for a 3-1 lead.
With Capeflete’s confidence wavering, the hosts needed a spark and got one when junior speedster Kathryn Clark was checked hard into the boards. Capeflete howled for a penalty, but none was called and the hosts retaliated by coming to life offensively.
With 6:40 left in the second, Mills finished a feed from junior Kate Bosworth to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Falmouth immediately went back on the power play, however, and restored a two-goal cushion when Carrier rebounded St. Angelo’s shot into the net with 4:16 remaining.
With 1:13 to play in the period, Stevens scored her second goal and Capeflete took momentum into the break prior to the fateful third, trailing only by one, 4-3, and knowing that if it could stay five-on-five, it’s chances for victory were excellent.
“Three of their goals we were short-handed and two we were five-on-three,” Bob Mills said. “Between the second and third periods, we talked about playing with focus and intensity and staying out of the penalty box.”
Whatever Capeflete discussed in between periods worked, as it took all of eight seconds to draw even.
It would be Hannah Bosworth doing the honors, finishing a feed from Stevens (Clark was also credited with an assist) and the game was deadlocked, 4-4.
After Capeflete failed to convert on a power play, it turned again to Jordan to hold the fort, as the goalie denied Clement twice in seven seconds on the doorstep.
Then, with 8:18 left, Capeflete took its first lead, 5-4, as Julia Ginder stole the puck and beat Falmouth senior goalie Hillary Nash with a backhanded shot.
A minute later, Falmouth went back on the power play and with 5:43 to go, the Yachtsmen drew even, courtesy St. Angelo, and it was a brand new game, 5-5.
“(The power play’s) something we’ve worked on the past couple weeks,” said Falmouth coach Rob Carrier. “We know man advantage will determine a lot of games. We want to spend special attention to making sure we have things running on all cylinders.”
As the clock wound down, it was as if “sudden victory” had arrived early as the next goal was likely to be the winner.
First, Falmouth bid for the lead, but freshman Devon Sarazin’s shot was denied by Jordan.
Clark then had a couple looks for Capeflete, but Nash stopped both.
Then, with 2:03 left, Capeflete went on the power play and a mere eight seconds later, after Nash saved a shot by Ewald, the puck deflected to Mills at the far post and with plenty of open net at which to shoot, Mills buried it for a 6-5 lead.
“It was a rebound,” Mills said. “It bounced the goalie’s right pad and I just shot it in. I just put it home. It felt really good.”
Capeflete appeared primed to ice the win when it went on the power play again with 1:34 to go, but eight seconds later, a Capeflete penalty gave Falmouth a final chance.
The Yachtsmen pulled Nash and pushed for the tying tally, but their last good chance resulted in a Clement shot going wide and Capeflete ran out the clock on its 6-5 victory.
“We’re very proud,” said Allison Mills. “We worked very hard. We wanted it. Every game we’ve gotten better. We stepped it up a notch. Coach told us to stay calm and do what we know how to do, play the game clean and fair while working hard. It was very stressful at the end. It helps having Lily. We all trust her. This definitely helps us. We have big games coming up and this should fuel us to keep it up.”
“It feels amazing,” said Jordan, who unofficially made somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 saves. “We’ve worked so hard our first few games. Now, we have our whole team and it feels really good to get the win. We tried to keep our focus and stay in it. Every time we scored a goal, our morale went up more. (The end) was pretty stressful. I worked on focusing and made sure I made the saves.”
“This is the second game in a row we’ve actually had a full team,” Bob Mills added. “The girls are exhausted with two lines that are varsity ready, but we’ve talked about playing with heart and playing with passion and they really showed that today and they’re very excited.”
Falmouth didn’t expect to start 0-2, but knows that better days are ahead.
“We got a little undisciplined in front of our own net,” said Carrier. “I think all six of their goals came within 15 feet of the net. That’s something we’ll have to work on going forward. We didn’t take that next step forward after playing Scarborough. I think having 10 days off really hurt us. We have three games next week, so we’ll get ready for those teams and hopefully have better results.”
The teams meet again Jan. 9 in Falmouth, but both squads have ample work to do in the meantime.
The Yachtsmen look to get in the win column Wednesday when they go to Brunswick. After visiting Portland Thursday and York next Saturday, Falmouth closes the 2013 portion of its schedule with home games versus Gorham and Biddeford. After battling two-time defending state champion Greely in the “Dudley Cup” New Year’s Night, the Yachtsmen make a trip to Lewiston.
Falmouth knows that it will be heard from before all is said and done.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Carrier said. “We’re too good of a team to get down because of one or two losses early in the season. We’ll be a good team come February. The journey it will take to get there will be a little rough, but hopefully it pays dividends at the end.”
Capeflete looks for back-to-back victories for the first time in exactly a year’s time Tuesday at Portland/Deering. After playing at Cheverus, Capeflete closes 2013 at Yarmouth/Freeport.
The fun is just beginning for this group.
“We’re looking really strong,” Jordan said. “We want to make the playoffs this year.”
Capeflete junior Kathryn Clark races down the ice.
Capeflete junior goalie Lily Jordan robs Falmouth senior Lucy Meyer.
Falmouth sophomore Sarah Hutcheon plays the puck.
Cape Elizabeth freshman Kate Ginder defends Falmouth sophomore Martina St. Angelo.
Falmouth freshman Evie Clement wins a race to the puck.
Falmouth sophomore Martina St. Angelo is hugged by freshman Devon Sarazin after a goal.
Capeflete junior Allison Mills tucks home a rebound for the winning goal.
The Capeflete girls’ hockey team celebrates its 6-5 win over Falmouth Saturday afternoon.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.