Perfect Storm gets a scare, but dispatches Capeflete
PORTLAND—Wednesday afternoon, for the first time all season, the powerhouse Scarborough girls' hockey team found itself tasting adversity.
So much adversity in fact that the Red Storm's undefeated mark was suddenly in jeopardy.
Facing the dangerous host Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete co-op squad at the Portland Ice Arena, Scarborough fell behind early on a patented breakaway goal from Capeflete junior Kathryn Clark and after being foiled time and again by Capeflete junior goalie Lily Jordan, the Red Storm found itself trailing, 2-0, when Capeflete freshman Hannah Bosworth scored on the power play with 7:41 left in the second period.
With junior standout Alyssa Hulst sidelined by injury, the Red Storm needed someone to step up offensively and fast and luckily, not one freshman, but two were waiting and willing to do so.
With 6:30 left in the second, Scarborough finally got off the schneid as freshman Sami Shoebottom scored. Then, nine seconds later, classmate Lizzy Gross did the same and finally, the Red Storm had come to life.
Before period's end, Shoebottom had put her team ahead to stay and Gross added a power play tally for a 4-2 lead. A third Shoebottom goal in the third period provided the punctuation mark and Scarborough went on to a 5-2 victory.
The Red Storm improved to 11-0, extended its two-year regular season win streak to 19 games and dropped Capeflete to 4-5 in the process.
"The girls were all freaking out, so I told them that this was a good reality check," said Scarborough coach Caitlin Cashman. "It's good for us to know what it feels like to be down. It keeps it in perspective and brings us down a couple notches. They responded the way I hoped."
Scarborough has been playing with a single purpose ever since losing last year's state final (1-0) to Greely in an overtime heartbreaker.
The Red Storm came into the 2013-14 season viewed as the team to beat and has it ever lived up to billing. Scarborough opened by winning at York, 6-0. It then handled visiting Leavitt/EL (2-1), Falmouth (4-1), Capeflete (6-0), Cheverus (11-1), York (9-0) and Biddeford (8-1), then won at Portland/Deering (11-3), handled visiting Lewiston, 3-0, and won at Biddeford Saturday, 5-0.
Capeflete, meanwhile, has been a pleasant surprise a year after winning just four games and missing the playoffs, overcoming a slow start to the winter to interject itself into the discussion of top contenders.
Capeflete opened with a 5-0 loss at Leavitt/Edward Little, fell, 5-1, at home to Yarmouth/Freeport, then was blanked by host Scarborough, 6-0, but the season turned around with a 6-5 come-from-behind win over visiting Falmouth. Capeflete then won, 10-1, at Portland/Deering and 4-3 at Cheverus before losing a hard-fought 3-1 decision at Yarmouth/Freeport. Capeflete bounced back with a 4-0 win at Winslow.
Scarborough has dominated Capeflete over the past five-plus seasons, winning all 12 meetings by a composite margin of 79-19, which includes a 6-2 Red Storm win in the 2009 playoffs and the meeting earlier this season. The only time Capeflete had even came close was a 4-3 overtime loss to visiting Scarborough Dec. 3, 2011.
Wednesday, form held, although it took awhile.
After Jordan twice denied Gross early, Clark gave Capeflete the jump, breaking free behind the Red Storm defense before beating senior goalie Devan Kane for a 1-0 lead, just 2:12 into the game. Bosworth was given an assist on the play.
The rest of the first period saw Scarborough pressuring to answer to no avail.
The Red Storm would outshoot Capeflete, 18-4, in the first 15 minutes, but simply couldn't solve Jordan, who denied Shoebottom on a breakaway, fended off a Gross wraparound, turned aside a Shoebottom bid after a turnover and denied Gross on a breakaway. Capeflete killed a pair of Scarborough power plays and heightening the Red Storm's frustration, Gross hit the post with 9 seconds showing, keeping the score 1-0.
Jordan made 12 saves in the first period alone.
"Lily was our best player," said Capeflete coach Bob Mills. "We knew we'd spend a ton of time in our defensive end, but there's only so much a goalie can do."
Early in the second period, Scarborough went on the power play again and a good look from Gross went wide. Gross then fired a shot which Jordan saved and a rebound was sent wide.
With 9:25 left in the stanza, Capeflete went on the power play and after Kane made a glove save on a bid from junior Julia Ginder, the underdogs broke through, as Bosworth redirected a feed from freshman Eliza Connolly past Kane for a stunning 2-0 advantage with 7:41 to go in the second. Ginder was also credited with an assist.
Yet just when images of a seismic upset were dancing in Capeflete's heads, reality struck.
In the form of the Red Storm's dynamic freshman tandem.
With 6:30 left, Shoebottom ended the drought, taking a pass from Gross and beating Jordan and the sleeping giant had been awakened.
"Before we went out for that shift, (teammate) Meghan (Doak) told us to just take a deep breath and that settled us down," said Shoebottom. "My coaches were telling me to choke down on my stick more. I did and it worked out."
"We have a really young team, but we put it together," Cashman said. "I knew it would come eventually. I knew all we needed was one. We needed to get out of our own heads."
A mere nine seconds later, off a faceoff win, it was Gross' turn, as she beat Jordan (Shoebottom got the assist) and just like that, a 2-0 deficit had disappeared and the game was tied, 2-2.
"When we went up, 2-0, that's when our emotions got a little too elevated," Mills lamented. "We talked about playing with focus, but keeping our emotions in check. That's a learning experience for us. (Scarborough's) a very, very good team. They have a lot of depth and really highly skilled players. We have to learn how to win and keep our emotions in check."
The go-ahead goal came with 2:48 to play in the second and this time Shoebottom made it happen, with an assist from Doak, in more ways than one.
As Doak was being stood up in a collision with a Capeflete player, she got the puck forward to Shoebottom, who outraced the defense and with a delayed penalty looming, she managed to beat Jordan to put her team on top for good, 3-2.
Clark almost tied the score 39 seconds later, but Kane made the save.
Scarborough then went back on the power play and with 1:18 to play in the second, Gross (with junior Kristen Murray getting the assist) tickled the twine and the Red Storm had some breathing room.
Entering the third period, Capeflete hoped to rally, but its best chance, 41 seconds in, a shot from junior Katie Ewald after a Scarborough turnover, was denied by Kane (15 saves).
The Red Storm got additional breathing room with 10:39 to play, as Shoebottom (assisted by Gross and Brenna Kent) sent a backhander past Jordan for her first high school hat trick.
"That was a good feeling," said Shoebottom. "We had to settle down and play our game and be consistent. I just wanted to win. I wanted to get some goals to get us going. I haven't had a hat trick in a high school game. It's exciting."
"Sami rocked it today," said Cashman. "She really did. She's that type of player. She and Lizzy just love the game."
Scarborough carried play from there and went on to the 5-2 victory.
"I thought we could pull through because I know the team that we are," Shoebottom said. "We knew we were the better team and we just had to show it. (Capeflete) came out a lot stronger this time and we maybe weren't expecting it. It took us awhile to get going."
While Hulst will be welcomed back with open arms (likely this weekend), the Red Storm proved yet again that its depth is undeniable.
"Alyssa's a great player, but we're a 20-man team," Shoebottom said. "We can't depend on one player."
Scarborough finished with a 45-17 shots advantage, but Jordan stole the show for Capeflete with 35 saves.
"I'm proud of our effort, heart and commitment, but it's a tough when you know you lost because of your own mistakes, not to take anything away from Scarborough," Mills said. "Being in the penalty box a lot didn't help us either."
Capeflete (fourth in the West Region Heal Points standings) is right back in action Thursday with a tough test at Falmouth. York pays a visit Saturday and Wednesday of next week, Capeflete hosts Portland/Deering. A first winning season and playoff berth since 2008-09 are within reach if this team finishes strong.
"We have Falmouth tomorrow, so we'll move on to that, as that's another tough game," Mills said. "I really like where the team is right now. We continue to improve. The girls feel more confident. Probably more than we ever have before. Playoffs are definitely the goal."
Scarborough (ranked first) has its share of heavy lifting to come. Saturday, it goes to dangerous Leavitt/EL. After hosting Gorham/Bonny Eagle in a makeup game Monday, the Red Storm finally gets a crack at Greely Wednesday of next week, on Scarborough's home ice. Games at Falmouth, Lewiston, Cheverus and Greely (Jan. 29) wrap up the regular season.
The Red Storm won't settle for anything but a first state championship (at least in the Maine Principals' Association-sanctioned era, as it did win a Tier II title in 2007-08) and you have to like its chances.
Scarborough sure does.
"We have a really good goalie, really good defense, really good offense," Shoebottom said. "I think we have a really good chance. We have to work on playing all three periods. This was an eye-opener."
"Our schedule is good," Cashman said. "In years past, we had a weaker schedule at the end and it's harder to get fired up for the playoffs. Now we have Leavitt, Falmouth and Greely. We were so close last year. It's a huge drive for the girls. We know how it feels to lose. We've been there. We're using that to motivate us. I'm hoping we can take that last step. Finally."