PORTLAND—Greely’s boys’ hockey team rolled to the Class B state championship a year ago.

And the scary news for the rest of the state is that the Rangers might be even better this winter.

Thursday evening at Troubh Ice Arena, Greely quickly dashed any upset hopes of host Cape Elizabeth by scoring three first period goals and rolling to a convincing victory.

Sophomore Brooks Williams struck less than three minutes in and sophomore Evan Dutil and senior Andy Moore added goals to set the tone.

In the second period, the Rangers made it 5-0, as junior Chris Williams and Dutil each found the net.

The young Capers broke through with 6:48 to go, on a goal from junior Gavin Simopoulos, but sophomore Gage Cooney answered for Greely and the defending champs went on to an emphatic 6-1 victory.

The Rangers got goals from five different players, improved to 3-1 on the young season and in the process, handed Cape Elizabeth its third setback in as many games.

“We’re still hungry,” said Moore. “This year, we’re defending a state championship, but other than that, nothing’s changed in our locker room. We’re focused. We love the competitiveness of the league toward us. We’re ready for whatever comes our way.”

Fast start

Greely beat almost all comers en route to the Class B title a year ago and the Rangers don’t appear to have slipped much as a new season dawns.

Greely started by handling visiting Brunswick, 8-1, then, after a 4-2 home loss to Class A juggernaut Lewiston, the Rangers blanked visiting Yarmouth, 2-0, in their last outing.

Cape Elizabeth, a two-time regional finalist which has some holes to fill this winter, began falling at Brunswick (3-1) and at home to Thornton Academy (6-2).

Last year, Greely won all three meetings: 5-1 at home, 3-1 at Cape Elizabeth and 9-4 in the Class B South Final.

Thursday, the Capers sought their first win over the Rangers since Dec. 16, 2017 (5-4, in overtime, in Falmouth), but instead, Greely started fast and went on to its fifth successive victory in the series.

After failing to get anything going their first couple of shifts, the Rangers went on top to stay with 12:18 to go in the opening period, as Brooks Williams scored an unassisted goal.

“I didn’t think our first couple shifts were great,” said Greely coach Barry Mothes. “I give Cape credit for coming out strong off the opening faceoff. We settled in and got a puck on net and got a break to get the lead. Then, we got into our game better.”

The second goal came with 10:23 remaining, as Dutil finished a feed from freshman Matt Kennedy.

Then, after Rangers junior goalie Jared Swisher twice denied Simopoulos, Moore took a pass from sophomore Ryan Moore and beat Cape Elizabeth freshman goalie Will Depke on the backhand with 2:03 left in the first (junior Zach Dubbert was also credited with an assist).

“It was great to score early,” Moore said. “Some of our lines did great things to get the puck in the net. It’s awesome that we’re deep. Everyone wants to play and everyone takes advantage of their opportunities.”

The second period was more of the same.

Greely went on top by four with 11:25 remaining, as on the power play, Ryan Moore had a shot saved by Depke, but Chris Williams was there to tip it home (Andy Moore was also credited with an assist).

After Swisher robbed Capers senior Matt Laughlin in front, then denied another Simopoulos shot, the Rangers got a second power play goal at 10:36, as Dutil did the honors, with junior Tyler Grasky and senior Ricky Walker getting assists).

“Big chunks of the first and second periods had good energy,” Mothes said. “We’ve worked on smart puck possession and it led to a couple goals in ways that were nice to see.”

Cape Elizabeth fought hard to the end and was rewarded in the third period.

After Swisher denied shots from both Simopoulos and senior Andrew Carroll, the Capers pulled within 5-1 with 6:48 to go, when Simopoulos finished unassisted.

Greely would score once more, however, as with 2:30 to play, in transition, Andy Moore set up Cooney for a shot which beat Cape Elizabeth freshman backup goalie Charlie Garvin for the goal which accounted for the 6-1 final score.

“We hold ourselves to high expectations, so winning and scoring goals was big for us,” Andy Moore said.

“It was nice to get to six goals,” Mothes said. “We’ve struggled a bit to score. We got a bunch of different people on the score sheet. Our line of (sophomore) Alex Wallace, Evan Dutil and Tyler Grasky had probably their best game of the year. They moved the puck quickly and got space. It was nice to see them contribute. The third period probably wasn’t our best. It was sloppy, but I’m glad we got one back on the rush. Cape’s a young team and they’ll get better as the season goes on.”

“(The Rangers) have a lot of firepower,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Jake Rutt. “You have to give credit where it’s due. We’re a young team and we’re continually getting better. I don’t think the score dictated how the game ended up. We’re looking for little victories to move us in the right direction. We tied them in the third period and we’ll take that momentum. Greely has a nucleus that knows what to expect and I dressed 11 freshmen who are still learning me, our coaching staff and their teammates. Nothing is won in December. All I care about is  how we play at the end of the year.”

Looking forward

Cape Elizabeth will try again to earn its first win Saturday, when it hosts Leavitt. A home game versus Presque Isle Dec. 28 closes the 2019 portion of the schedule.

“Game experience is the big thing for us,” Rutt said. “I want everybody to get better.”

As for Greely, the Rangers travel to Kennebunk Monday, then battle Falmouth in the “Dudley Cup” New Year’s Day.

“We can’t get complacent,” Andy Moore said. “We have to have the mindset that we want to get better as players and as a team.”

“It’s still early,” Mothes said. “We have some guys who have been in big games and some guys who are new, so it’s a nice mix. We have three games now between now and the Dudley Cup, Kennebunk, then two (exhibitions) up in Canada. We want to take advantage of these games to get better. We have to keep pushing hard.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

 

 

 

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