Cape Elizabeth freshman goalie Will Depke (40) is mobbed by his teammates after the Capers’ 3-2 win over Scarborough Monday. Michael Hoffer photo

PORTLAND—Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ hockey team was in need of a big victory and what the Capers got Monday evening was a big victory on a big sheet of ice.

“Hosting” Scarborough in a makeup game at the Cross Insurance Arena, Cape Elizabeth demonstrated that it’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters most and the end result was a statement win.

The Red Storm struck first at 8:55 of the first period, when junior Collin Wallace scored on the power play.

Three minutes later, junior Cory Schuler finished in front for a 2-0 Scarborough advantage heading to the first intermission.

Cape Elizabeth began the second period on the power play, but couldn’t convert. Late in the period, however, the Capers finally roared to life, as a power play tally from sophomore Quinn Gordon produced a spark and with 26 seconds to go, senior Matt Laughlin finished a gorgeous individual effort to tie the contest heading for the third period.

There, with just 38 seconds remaining, senior Jonas Moon skated in and scored and Cape Elizabeth held off a last-ditch Red Storm rally to prevail, 3-2.

The Capers won their third game in a row, improved to 5-8, earned some valuable Heal Points and in the process, handed Scarborough its third consecutive defeat and dropped the Red Storm to 7-4-1.

“It’s definitely our biggest win,” said Moon, who sported a “game chain” afterwards as his teams Most Valuable Player in the contest. “It was kind of a mental thing. We knew we had to pick it up in the second period and it all clicked at the end.”

Take two

This game was originally scheduled for Jan. 16 at Troubh Ice Arena, but bad weather moved it to Monday and with ice time at a premium, it was moved across town to the Cross Insurance Arena.

Scarborough entered the contest as a top contender in Class A.

The Red Storm opened the year with a 4-1 home win over Gorham, then after a 5-1 loss at Lewiston, beat visiting Edward Little (4-3), visiting South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (6-2) and host Portland/Deering (8-2). After a 1-1 home tie against defending Class B state champion Greely, Scarborough rolled at Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon (9-1) and beat Thornton Academy twice: 7-4 in Saco and 3-0 at home. Last week, the Red Storm hosted the top two teams in Class A and lost to them both, 4-3 to St. Dom’s and 3-1 to Lewiston.

The Capers, meanwhile, started with losses at Brunswick (3-1), at home to Thornton Academy (6-2) and at home to Greely (6-1). After a 6-2 home win over Leavitt, Cape Elizabeth fell at home to Presque Isle (7-2) and at Cheverus (6-3). After a 5-2 win at York, the Capers fell at South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete in overtime (3-2), at Kennebunk (3-1) and at Yarmouth (3-2), before bouncing back to down Portland/Deering (5-4) and visiting Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon (5-1).

The teams didn’t play last winter.

Monday, Scarborough hoped to beat Cape Elizabeth for the first time since Feb. 4, 2016 (5-2), but it would be the Capers celebrating at the final horn.

The Red Storm came out firing and Capers’ freshman goalie Will Depke was up to the task initially, denying sophomore Sam Rumelhart on a rush, junior Nate Cusson, senior Nolan Matthews with a pad save and Rumelhart on a rush.

Cape Elizabeth had a couple looks as well, but Scarborough junior goalie Peter O’Brien saved bids from Moon and junior Gavin Simopoulos.

After going on the power play for the first time, the Red Storm grabbed the lead, as senior Ethan Jasa set up Wallace for a blast from just inside the blue line.

Laughlin then nearly pulled the Capers even, but O’Brien stopped him cold in front and at 11:51 of the first, Schuler, camped in front of the net, took a pass from junior John Valente and finished to make it 2-0.

With 21 seconds to go in the period, Cape Elizabeth went on the power play and carried it into the second period, but came up empty, as O’Brien robbed Simopoulos, then saved a bid from Moon and denied Laughlin in front.

The Red Storm couldn’t add to the lead and that loomed enormous when the Capers suddenly rediscovered their offense late in the period.

After going on the power play with 2:30 remaining, Cape Elizabeth was initially flustered when senior Andrew Carroll had a shot saved, but junior Jack Pellechia set up Gordon for a shot that eluded O’Brien and with 2:15 on the clock, Scarborough’s lead was cut in half.

The Capers then pushed hard for the equalizer, only to see O’Brien deny freshman Nick Laughlin, Moon, freshman Philip Coupe and Nick Laughlin again, but just when it appeared the Red Storm would take the lead to the second intermission, Matt Laughlin raced up the left side, eluded a defender, skated in on goal, then sent a backhand flick past O’Brien to tie the game, 2-2, with 26 seconds remaining.

“That was a confidence builder,” Moon said. “We built off playing well that period.”

“I’m really proud of the effort we brought in the second period,” said Capers’ coach Jake Rutt. “I thought we played pretty well in the first period too, but there were a couple things we needed to tighten up. Our margin of error is very thin, so we need everyone to win. Everyone played their role.”

Things then went from bad to worse for Scarborough five seconds later, as it picked up a penalty, allowing Cape Elizabeth to start the third period on the power play.

The Capers didn’t take advantage of that man-advantage, however, as O’Brien saved bids from freshman Jackson Hooper, Matt Laughlin and Carroll.

With 12:27 remaining, the Red Storm threatened to retake the lead when senior Dawson Gendreau skated in unencumbered, but Depke cut off the angle and Gendreau’s shot hit the outside of the goal.

After Depke denied freshman Will Marcotte twice, Cape Elizabeth went on the power play again, but couldn’t convert, as O’Brien saved a bid from Nick Laughlin and Simopoulos sent the rebound wide.

After Depke saved a shot from Brown, then covered the rebound, Scarborough went on the power play with 3:07 remaining.

The Red Storm couldn’t even muster a shot, however, before taking a penalty of their own with 1:55 to play.

After the Capers’ penalty expired, they went on the power play again, but as the clock dwindled under a minute, it appeared overtime was imminent.

Until Moon played the hero.

Collecting the puck along the boards in his zone, he skated up the left side, caught a break when a Scarborough defender slipped, then went one-on-one with O’Brien before firing the puck past the goalie for a 3-2 lead with just 38 seconds remaining.

“I guess it was just a lucky play,” Moon said. “The puck found me and I snuck it by the goalie. The ice opened up and I just took my chance. It felt good.”

“We spend a lot of time on special teams,” Rutt said. “Down the stretch, that’s usually what decides games. Our PK (penalty kill) was tight and our power play scored when we needed it. Jonas just poked the puck free, got his legs going, got the goalie moving one way, then shot the other.”

The Red Storm weren’t finished, however, and nearly tied it with 3 seconds on the clock, but a shot from Jasa sailed just wide and Cape Elizabeth ran out the clock and celebrated its 3-2 victory.

“Our goalie saved us a few times and we got desperate toward the end and that’s what it takes to win these games,” Moon said.

“We knew they’d push at the end,” Rutt said. “We grinded it out and did what we needed to do.”

The win meant a little more to Rutt, a one-time Red Storm standout, who is in his second season as Cape Elizabeth’s coach.

“It’s a little bittersweet because I have ties to Scarborough,” said Rut. ” I’d rather beat them then lose to them.”

The Capers finished with a 37-20 edge in shots and got 18 saves from Depke.

“Will is really developing into a really good goaltender, getting some confidence,” Rutt said.

The Red Storm got 34 saves from O’Brien, but surrendered two power play goals.

“I thought we had a good start,” said Scarborough coach Jake Brown. “I thought the first and third periods were pretty good, we just couldn’t get the puck in the net in the third period. We’re as good as our work ethic and that second period, I hoped we’d learned from the St. Dom’s game and playing strong with the lead, but we didn’t make efforts to get to the net. We took too many penalties and other than our first power play, we didn’t capitalize on their penalties. We didn’t have urgency to get pucks on net or get second or third shots. Credit to Cape.”

Two weeks to fine tune

Scarborough (which is third behind Lewiston and St. Dom’s in the Class A Heal Points standings) plays again Tuesday at Lake Region. After hosting Biddeford Thursday, the Red Storm visit Marshwood Saturday, then go to Falmouth, host Falmouth and welcome Bangor to finish up the regular season.

“We’re back at it tomorrow,” Brown said. “Lake Region works hard, so if we don’t work hard, they’ll beat us too. It’s all about learning from losses. We have to realize we have to bring it every night. It’s a tough league to win in. We played like we had something to prove earlier in the year, but I didn’t see that today.”

Cape Elizabeth (which moved up to sixth in Class B South by virtue of the victory) is back in action Thursday at home versus Yarmouth. After going to Biddeford, the Capers host Kennebunk and Gorham, then close at Greely.

“Confidence-wise, this shows us how good of a team we can be the rest of the season,” said Moon.

“We just have the mentality that the next game is the most important,” Rutt said. “We need every win we can get. We’re playing good hockey. We just need to button up a few things and hopefully, we can keep it going.”

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

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