Greely edges Cape in thrilling regional final

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Greely’s boys’ hockey team shows off the championship plaque after edging rival Cape Elizabeth, 3-2, in Tuesday’s Class B South Final. The Rangers will meet Old Town/Orono in Saturday’s state game.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

LEWISTON—It was the game everyone wanted and the game everyone expected and when all was said and done Tuesday afternoon at the Colisee, top-ranked Greely was one goal better than No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the Class B South Final.

One closely contested, somewhat controversial goal at that.

And that slim margin of difference means the Capers go home in agony, while the Rangers are one win away from a championship.

Nearly three months after their lone regular season encounter, an overtime victory for Cape Elizabeth, the Capers and Rangers were scoreless through one period before each team got their offense going in the second period.

The Capers scored first, as senior captain Alex Glidden finished a rebound, but Greely answered with a pair of strikes in a 70-second span to take the lead.

First, sophomore Jake MacDonald got the puck past Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Peter Haber (barely) to tie it. Sophomore Matt Kramlich then ripped a shot into the net for a 2-1 advantage.

The Capers answered before the period was out, making it 2-2 on a shot from freshman Gavin Simopolous.

The decisive goal would come with 9:27 to play, as MacDonald scored out of a scrum and while there was a video review to see if the net had come off its mooring prior to the score, the goal was upheld and the Rangers had the lead for good.

Greely’s defense and junior goalie Karsten Bourgoine slammed the door from there and for the first time in four years, the Rangers are regional champions, by virtue of a 3-2 victory.

Greely improved to 17-2-1, ended Cape Elizabeth’s season at 15-3-2 and advanced to meet Old Town/Orono (19-1) in the Class B state final Saturday at 1 p.m., in Lewiston.

“It was a battle,” said longtime Rangers coach Barry Mothes. “Two teams who had really good regular seasons. We were hoping to get another game with them. There’s been pressure on us, but the guys have produced. We get the best out of everybody. This is satisfying.” 

Collision course

On Dec. 16, seemingly a lifetime ago, visiting Cape Elizabeth rallied from down, 3-1, went ahead by a goal and after Greely forced overtime, the Capers got a tally from Glidden to prevail, 5-4.

It didn’t long after that for it to become clear that Cape Elizabeth and Greely were the teams to beat in Class B South and if they met again, a trip to the state final would likely be at stake (see sidebar, below, for previous stories).

The Capers won their first eight games: 3-1 at Gorham, 4-2 over visiting St. Dom’s, 5-4 in overtime at Greely, 9-1 at Maranacook, 5-4 over visiting Brunswick, 5-1 at Scarborough, 4-0 over visiting Maranacook and 7-1 at Gardiner. Cape Elizabeth’s streak ended with a 3-3 tie at Cony, but the Capers 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 beat visiting Kennebunk (6-3), visiting Yarmouth (4-1) and visiting Gorham (6-4) to finish 14-2-2, the program’s best mark since going 17-2 in 2004-05, which was good for the No. 2 seed behind Greely in Class B South.

Cape Elizabeth earned a bye into the semifinals where they dispatched reigning regional champion York, 4-2, last Friday, the Capers’ first victory in that round since 2009.

Greely was a regional finalist in 2016-17 before losing to York and as soon as that game was in the books, the Rangers started preparing to become champions this winter.

“I do remember a year ago, walking out of here after losing to York and hearing (sophomore) Andy Moore and Matt Kramlich say, ‘We’ll get it next year coach,'” Mothes said.

Greely bounced back from its season-opening 5-4 home overtime loss to Cape Elizabeth by beating visiting Brunswick (5-2), downing Falmouth in the “Dudley Cup” for the first time, 7-3, then beating host Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon (7-2) and Kennebunk (7-3), visiting Gardiner (9-2), host York (5-3), host Brunswick (6-0), visiting Yarmouth (5-1) and visiting Kennebunk (5-1). After a 3-2 home loss to Gorham, the Rangers returned to their winning ways by downing host Biddeford (6-2), Maranacook (8-1) and Gardiner (4-0), visiting Scarborough (3-0) and Camden Hills (8-2) and host Yarmouth (4-1). Greely closed by tying host St. Dom’s, 1-1, but still ended up with a 15-2-1 mark (its best since going 17-1 in 2008-09) and the top seed in Class B South.

After earning a bye into the semifinals, the Rangers defeated No. 4 Yarmouth, 4-1, Friday night to advance.

The Capers and Rangers had met eight previous times in the playoffs (see sidebar, below, for results), with Greely winning on five occasions, including each of the past five, with a 5-2 triumph in the 2014 Western B quarterfinals the most recent.

This one was supposed to be played Wednesday evening, but forecasted bad weather moved it up to Tuesday afternoon where, as expected, the rivals put on a scintillating show.

It quickly became evident that both teams wanted to put the puck on net as often as possible, regardless of the distance, but both goalies were equal to the task for most of the first period.

Just 15 seconds in, MacDonald had a good chance, but Haber made the save.

The Capers then tested Bourgoine, but he denied senior Gus Frankwicz, junior Jackson Woods and senior Ryan Collins.

After Greely freshman Chris Williams shot wide on a rush, MacDonald took a pass from Jackson Williams, but was robbed by Haber.

Greely almost struck first at 5:49, but after spinning away from a defender, Kramlich hit the far post.

After Bourgoine denied Glidden and Simopoulos, Haber stopped a Kramlich shot with his pad, then turned aside bids from senior Matt Dubbert and Moore.

Frankwicz and junior Stephen Murray both tested Bourgoine, only to be denied, and after Moore missed just wide after deking Haber out of position, Moore’s shot from the blue line was saved by Haber.

In the final minute, Cape Elizabeth senior Sean Agrodnia had a shot saved in front and the game went to the first intermission scoreless.

The Capers had a 12-9 shots advantage in the first 15 minutes.

The offense finally showed up in the second period.

In the first minute, Cape Elizabeth had a couple good looks, but Bourgoine saved shots from Agrodnia and sophomore Ben Payson.

Then, with 12:25 to go in the period, the Capers struck first, thanks to heads-up plays from two of their stars.

First, Collins, while falling to his knees, managed to put the puck on net and after Bourgoine stopped it, but left the rebound, Glidden banged it home for the game’s first goal.

Cape Elizabeth had a chance to go up by two, but Bourgoine didn’t let it happen, stopping bids from Glidden, junior Phil Tarling and junior Alec Riggle.

Greely then wrested momentum away, tying the score at 7:20 of the second, as Jackson Williams got the puck to MacDonald, who fired a shot which Haber slowed, but couldn’t stop completely, and the puck slid over the line to make it 1-1.

“We knew we had to throw pucks on net and crash the net because Haber’s a good goalie,” MacDonald said. “I saw the puck sitting on the goal mouth and I was hoping and praying it would go in.” 

The Rangers needed just 70 seconds to go on top for the first time, as Kramlich eluded a defender before rifling a shot over Haber’s shoulder, top shelf, for a 2-1 advantage at 8:30.

Back came the Capers, who tied the game, 2-2, at 10:20, as Simopolous sent the puck off Bourgoine’s right skate and in from a tough angle.

Down the stretch, Bourgoine denied senior Derek Allen, Tarling and Glidden and Haber made saves on shots from sophomore Caleb Duff and Duff again, to send the game to the second intermission deadlocked, 2-2.

In the third period, only one goal was scored and Greely got it.

After Glidden had a shot saved early, the Rangers began to tilt the ice and while Kramlich was denied three straight times by Haber, the goal eventually came.

With 9:27 on the clock, Moore missed just wide with a shot, but Jackson Williams kept the puck alive and MacDonald managed to ram it home for a 3-2 advantage.

“I came off the goal line, flipped it and it went off (Haber’s) shoulder and went in,” MacDonald said. “I didn’t see the goal come off.”

Cape Elizabeth coach Matt Buotte felt that the goal frame had come loose before the score and that that the goal should have been waved off, but after a video review, it stood.

“I thought the net was off, but (the officials) told me it was off after the puck went in,” Buotte said.

“I was confident (it would stand),” said MacDonald. “It really got the bench going and gave us momentum.”

“I didn’t get a good look,” Mothes said. “I’m just glad we scrapped at the top of the crease on a loose puck. History shows that playoff hockey games often get decided by plays like that. I’m glad we found away to get the puck across. Jake is a clutch player. He loves big games. He showed that last year as a freshman. He rose to the occasion again. Hopefully he has another one in him.”

The Capers tried to answer, but Allen had a shot saved by Bourgoine, Simopolous had a shot blocked and a Simopolous redirect of a shot from Riggle was saved as well.

With 1:30 remaining, Buotte pulled Haber for another attacker, but Riggle was called for tripping 19 seconds later, negating that advantage.

Haber came to the bench again with 35 seconds to go and with 6 seconds on the clock, Greely senior Ben Kennedy came off for tripping, but Cape Elizabeth couldn’t control the puck on the ensuing faceoff and at 5:44 p.m, the Rangers celebrated their 3-2 victory.

“It’s unreal to come out with a win,” Bourgoine said. “The team played really hard and we just played simple. We didn’t want to end our season now. Especially the seniors.”

“It’s amazing, something special,” said MacDonald. “Last year (against York), we had a lead, but we didn’t finish. This year, we knew if we had a lead that we had to finish. Holding them off was tough. We had to pin the puck against the boards and cycle it down low.”

“Being (ranked) first gave us last (shift) change and helped us a bit tactically,” Mothes added. “Their first line is extremely potent. They’re a dangerous team. We knew we’d have to play a defensive game. It was tough to get time and space. There were ugly, scrappy goals for the most part.”

Greely was outshot, 30-29, but got 28 saves from Bourgoine.

“I just focused on the game and didn’t let them get in my head,” Bourgoine said. “I just had to stay positive. I did a lot of training this summer and focused on hockey. The defense helps me a ton.”

“Karsten has done so much this year,” MacDonald said. “He’s worked hard and it’s paid off.”

“Karsten’s had a solid season,” Mothes added. “He worked really hard starting last March, April. He went to camps and clinics and lived at the rink. He improved his game. He’s got a great attitude. We believe in him. I’m happy he’s gotten his chances to play in games like this.”

One goal short

Cape Elizabeth got 26 saves from Haber in his swan song and only took one penalty all game (as did Greely), but its quest for a first regional title in 12 years came to a frustrating end.

“If we lost this thing, I didn’t think it would be 3-2,” Buotte said. “I thought it would be more like 7-6. We’re two teams who go all out and score goals. It wasn’t a tight-checking game, the pucks just weren’t going in. We had a few really good chances. We locked it down more defensively. We did a good job creating and generated rebounds. They shut down the third and fourth chances we like to generate. The puck just didn’t go in.

“This one really stings. We’ve come up before and played (poorly) and didn’t deserve to win, but not tonight. The tough thing about high school hockey is in a lot of respects, it doesn’t matter what you do for three-and-a-half months, you have to do it for 45 minutes. Unfortunately, tonight, they got the extra bounce. 

“Two of the top five high school teams in the whole state played tonight. High school hockey needed this game. (It’s too bad) someone had to lose and (it’s too bad) it’s us.” 

Cape Elizabeth graduates Agrodnia, Allen, Collins, Frankwicz, Glidden, Haber and Ethan Gillespie and they’ll be tough to replace.

“This group of seniors, all seven of them, were three-year varsity players, some of them four,” said Buotte. “There are no platitudes I can give to explain what these guys did for the program. They were role models on and off the ice. Our locker room was so good. It was just a family. These guys spent four-plus hours together every day and they’re a band of brothers. I really wish we could have won for them.”

The Capers will return a group that should again be in the hunt. One of these seasons, Cape Elizabeth will kick the door down.

“This was a good building experience for the underclassmen,” Buotte said. “We have a good core coming back. Class B South is always interesting. You never know who will be the top dog. We have 12 months to try to make it us.”

Forty-five minutes to glory

The Rangers have no playoff history with Old Town/Orono, which has clearly been the best team in Class B North all season. The teams didn’t meet this winter.

Greely plans to come back to Lewiston and do what it does best and hope the end result is a fourth state championship.

“We just have to keep it simple, nothing fancy,” MacDonald said. “We’ll go and grind.”

“It’s fun to have a couple more practices and stand here on the final Saturday,” Mothes said. “We’ll try to keep doing the good things we’ve been doing. We still have things to tighten up. We’ll try to win three periods. I’m sure it will be a really challenging game.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Greely senior Quinn Molloy skates with the puck.

Cape Elizabeth senior Peter Haber makes a save on Greely sophomore Andy Moore.

Greely junior goalie Karsten Bourgoine makes one of his 28 saves.

Greely sophomore Andy Moore carries the puck into the offensive zone.

Cape Elizabeth junior Jackson Woods fires the puck.

Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Peter Haber doesn’t like what he sees as Greely sophomore Matt Kramlich beats him for a 2-1 second period lead.

Greely junior goalie Karsten Bourgoine and Cape Elizabeth senior Alex Glidden each reach for the puck in vain.

Cape Elizabeth freshman Gavin Simopolous carries the puck as Greely freshman Chris Williams gives chase.

Greely sophomore Jake MacDonald celebrates a goal.

Greely’s student section turned out in force.

Cape Elizabeth’s student section showed up and made noise as well.

Previous Cape Elizabeth game stories

Season Preview

Edward Little 5 Cape Elizabeth 1

Cheverus 5 Cape Elizabeth 1

Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 1

Previous Greely game stories

Season Preview

Greely 5 Yarmouth 1

Previous Cape Elizabeth-Greely playoff results

2014 Western B quarterfinal
Greely 5 Cape Elizabeth 2

2013 Western B semifinal
Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 2

2009 Western B Final
Greely 6 Cape Elizabeth 3 

2008 Western B semifinal
Greely 6 Cape Elizabeth 1

2007 Western B semifinal 
Greely 4 Cape Elizabeth 0

2006 Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1 (OT)

2005 Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 2

1986 Western B semifinal
Cape Elizabeth 10 Greely 2

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.