Rangers roll to 5-1 victory over rival Cape Elizabeth
By Michael Hoffer
FALMOUTH — After stewing for four days, the Greely hockey team made the most of its opportunity to avenge one of its few down moments of the 2008-09 season Saturday night.
The Rangers, who lost 3-1 to Cape Elizabeth in the non-countable Fix Cup Final Feb. 2, got another crack at the Capers. This time Greely rode two goals apiece from senior Jesse Shavel and freshman Brian Hart during a 5-1 victory at the Family Ice Center that reminded everyone which team is the gold standard in Western Class B – and perhaps all of high school hockey.
“It’s a good effort against a good team and a big rival,” said longtime Greely coach Barry Mothes. “The guys were all a little disappointed the way Monday night went. We had four days to work on it and think about it. I’m pleased with the way they brought a lot of focus and energy tonight. We needed more than we had Monday. It’s hard to beat good teams if you don’t leave it all out there. I thought we hustled and had good energy and played smart tonight.”
SUBHEAD-Season of memories
Greely has been knocking on the door of a Class B championship since 2004, but no previous contender has enjoyed this much success this far along in the season.
The Rangers took a 13-1 mark into Saturday’s game, a record that included victories over Western A contenders Biddeford, Kennebunk and Scarborough. Greely’s lone countable loss came way back on Dec. 10, a 6-3 home loss to Class A Thornton Academy.
The Rangers had beaten their previous 10 Class B foes by an average of over six goals. Greely edged Cape Elizabeth 5-4 back on Jan. 5 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on senior Brian Allyn’s game-winner.
This time, the Rangers needed no such heroics.
Just 2 minutes, 24 seconds in, Shavel redirected a pass from senior Kyle Selig past Capers junior goalie Phil Jordan for a 1-0 lead.
“It was very important to score first,” Shavel said. “The first goal is always a big momentum switch.”
Cape Elizabeth drew even with 5:24 to play in the first when junior Zack Labbe beat Greely sophomore Matt Labbe on a rebound goal. But with 1:02 left in the period, the Rangers went on top to stay when Shavel eluded a defender before feeding Selig for a tough-angle wrister that beat Jordan for the 2-1 lead.
Hart got his first goal 4:18 into the second period, skating in and firing a slapshot into the net for a 3-1 lead.
Moments later, the Rangers were in deep trouble as penalties gave the visitors a 2-man advantage for 42 seconds. Cape Elizabeth wasn’t able to capitalize, however, and Greely extended its lead to 4-1 when Hart scored again.
Hart took a pass from his brother, senior Kevin Hart, the Western Class B Coaches’ Association January Defensive Player of the Month, before beating Jordan with 4:32 to play in the second.
“My brother set me up,” said Brian Hart. “He did all the work. It was good to kill (the two-man advantage) off, then score right after.”
“I thought the people we had out there did a heck of a job,” added Mothes. “We disrupted their flow a little and Matt made some good saves. We fought our way through, then we got another goal. It was a big shift for us.”
The Capers played hard in the third. They nearly cut into the deficit with 6:26 to play, but senior Sean Eubanks’ bid hit the post. Greely then iced the victory with 37.5 seconds left when Shavel got his second goal, a tally tying him with Eubanks as the top scorer in the region. Shavel grabbed a loose puck behind the net, skated around the cage and fired a shot off Jordan into the net.
That brought the curtain down on the Rangers’ 5-1 triumph.
“It’s a pretty big win, especially after the Fix Cup,” said Shavel. “We’d never been so pumped up before a game. We were fired up. We changed up our whole routine before the game. Everyone was yelling.”
“I was pleased how we focused on this game one period at a time, one shift at a time,” added Mothes. “We won all three periods. It was a good, solid effort to lift our spirits heading into the final stretch of the regular season.”
Once again, Greely’s offensive depth and prolific scoring ability carried the day.
“We have three good lines going right now,” Hart said.
“(The first line) had three goals tonight,” Mothes added. “They had really good energy and better rhythm.
“Brian was banged up for a stretch there. He’s been a little up and down getting back in the groove. Tonight, I thought was one of his best games. I thought he was good with the puck and played a really strong game.”
The Rangers ended with a 25-23 edge in shots. Labbe, the Western Class B Coaches’ Association January Goaltender of the Month, made 22 saves.
Jordan had 20 saves.
Cape Elizabeth was 0-for-4 on the power play. Greely went 0-for-1.
“Greely played a nice game,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Jason Tremblay. “Hats off to them. The second period killed us. We had some power play chances. We have to do a better job than that. They got a couple goals and that was pretty much it. I thought we outplayed them in the third. We were right there with them. The score was not indicative of what the game was like.”
SUBHEAD-Best team yet?
Greely has posted its share of impressive records and has enjoyed deep playoff runs over the years. However, it’s possible this squad could go down as the best one in the program’s history.
“Record-wise I would say so,” Shavel said. “I think so too. We’ve had some big wins against Class A teams. It gives us confidence as a team. It’s really big for us seniors. We’re leading by example out there.”
“I’m pleased with what we’ve accomplished so far,” added Mothes. “I think we still have a lot of work to do. When all is said and done, I’ll have the luxury of sitting back and comparing.
“I think they’re excited to come to the rink. I hope the seniors sense the urgency of their last few games. We have high expectations and we know we have to work really hard. I’m trying to enjoy every practice and every game, I can’t believe there’s only a few weeks left. It’s flown. We’ll have to keep working hard. We have some challenging games coming up.”
Greely hosts Yarmouth Thursday, visits Leavitt Saturday and closes the regular season Monday at home against Falmouth. The Rangers have the top seed in Western B, but they have bigger aspirations.
“We have to work hard everyday,” Hart said. “We have Falmouth coming up. We’ll look forward to that before we look forward to playoffs. We’ll work hard and try and get it done.”
Greely will have a bye into the regional semifinals. Everyone expects the Rangers to meet up with Cape Elizabeth one final time in the Western B Final March 4.
“I think it would be a good situation for both teams,” Tremblay said. “Both of us have to take advantage of the rest of the regular season. We’ll refocus. We look forward to another matchup, hopefully.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com