PORTLAND—Greely High’s “Rallying Rangers” had the stage set for another dramatic comeback victory Thursday afternoon at Troubh Ice Arena, but the Cape Elizabeth Capers weren’t about to let one slip away against their rival in an early-season boys’ hockey showdown.

And as a result, the Capers earned early bragging rights in the first of three likely showdowns this winter.

Cape Elizabeth dominated possession in the first period and put 20 shots on net, but it wasn’t until the 20th, from sophomore Colin Blackburn, that it managed to take the lead, on a power play goal with just 28.7 seconds left.

The Capers then quickly opened it up early in the second period, as Blackburn scored a second power play goal and junior Dimitri Coupe added a goal for a 3-0 advantage.

But Greely is never out of a game and after freshman Rylan Haight got the Rangers on the board later in the second period, senior standout Evan Dutil scored an unassisted goal just 38 seconds into the third to make things very interesting.

Greely had a couple power play chances to score and tie it up, but came up empty, then Cape Elizabeth junior Sebastian Moon’s goal provided some breathing room and the Capers went on to a 4-2 victory.


Cape Elizabeth improved to 2-0 and in the process, dropped Greely to 1-1 in early action.

“It means a lot to win this one,” said Moon, who had a goal and an assist. “This gives us some more confidence. It was nerve-wracking knowing they’re a second and third period team and they have great players, but we did it.”

No love lost

Greely and Cape Elizabeth have enjoyed a heated, albeit respectful rivalry for decades. The teams have played in 10 of the past 16 postseasons and the Rangers beat the Capers to win the Class B South championship in both 2019 and 2020, en route to state titles.

Last winter, Cape Elizabeth enjoyed a 5-2 victory at Greely.

“Last year’s win gave us confidence we could beat them,” Moon said.


The Capers captured their opener, 2-0, at York, while the Rangers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to shock visiting Cheverus/Yarmouth, 3-2, on Dutil’s overtime goal.

Thursday, in front of a boisterous crowd, Cape Elizabeth put on a show, but the Capers couldn’t relax until the final horn sounded.

In the game’s first five minutes alone, Cape Elizabeth put eight shots on goal, but Greely sophomore goalie Keji Wiessner stopped all of them, including denying junior Connor Goss with his glove and twice saving bids from junior Nick Laughlin.

With 8:53 left in the first period, the Rangers appeared to score first, when senior Gage Cooney swatted home a rebound of a Dutil shot, but the goal was waved off for high-sticking.

Greely then went on the power play, but senior Brooks Williams hit the post.

The Capers then went back on the attack and with 5:30 remaining, 54 seconds after a first penalty, the Rangers picked up a second and Cape Elizabeth had a 5-on-3 power play, but Wiessner robbed junior Patrick Lee, junior Alex Thayer had a shot blocked by junior Matt Kennedy, Wiessner saved shots from Goss and junior Phil Coupe, then, while prone on the ice, he denied Moon.


But after another Greely penalty, the Capers finally broke through in the final minute of the first period, as Phil Coupe had a shot saved, but Blackburn was there to put home the rebound and with 28.7 seconds showing, Cape Elizabeth had the lead for good.

“We passed the puck around well and looked for rebounds,” Blackburn said. “It’s effective putting a body in front of the net on the power play and I was fortunate enough to be in the right spot. It was big to get the first goal of the game.”

The Capers had a 20-3 shots advantage in the first 15 minutes, but the win was far from secure.

Cape Elizabeth then came out strong again in the second period and opened it up.

After Capers junior goalie Will Depke denied Cooney to preserve the lead, the Capers went on the power play again and with 13:43 to go, Blackburn scored on the rebound gain, with Laughlin and Goss this time getting the assists.

“Colin brings a physical presence and when he’s skating well, he can be one of the better players in the state,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Jake Rutt. “For him, it’s just managing his emotions and playing the way he’s capable. His potential is really unlimited.”


It took all of 51 seconds for the Capers to strike again, as this time, Lee set up Dimitri Coupe in front and Coupe one-timed the puck past Wiessner for a 3-0 advantage.

“We’ve been working on trying to generate more offense,” Rutt said. “We’ve been getting the puck to the net, but we just have to be a little more productive and be a little sharper around the net to bury those. Getting that cushion was huge. We were able to manage the game a little differently with that lead and were able to keep them at bay.”

“We came out with a good first shift in the second period and then, we were pulling a couple pucks out of the net,” lamented Greely coach Barry Mothes. “To (Cape’s) credit, they were opportunistic and hungry on pucks down low. They put us under a lot of pressure. We struggled to make clean plays coming of our zone, through mid-ice and even in our offensive zone. That’s a problem against anybody, but especially a team with a lot of speed and attacking instincts like Cape.”

The Rangers refused to roll over and quickly got back in the game.

After Depke saved shots from Williams and Dutil, Haight scored on a rebound with 10:17 to go (sophomore Sean Allen and freshman Ezra McDuffie got credited for assists) to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Later in the second period, Cape Elizabeth killed off a penalty to take a two-goal lead to the second intermission.


Greely trailed Cheverus/Yarmouth by two goals entering the third period in the opener before rallying for a dramatic win and the Rangers threatened to do it again, when Dutil got free 38 seconds into the final stanza and ripped a shot past Depke to suddenly make it a 3-2 game.

But the Capers wouldn’t buckle.

Greely went on the power play with 11:12 to go, but Depke robbed Cooney 21 seconds later to preserve the lead.

Then, with 9:04 left, Moon got free, knocked the puck away from a defenseman, then beat Wiessner to make it a 4-2 contest.

“It was a 2-on-1 and I got a lucky bounce off a defender,” Moon said. “The puck bounced our way tonight.”

“The kid’s tenacious,” Rutt said, of Moon. “He’s a huge leader, the center of our first line. He leads by what he does on a consistent basis.”


The Capers killed off one more power play and Depke denied shots from senior Mitchell Parent, Williams and Dutil and when the clock struck zero, celebrated their 4-2 victory.

“It’s a big confidence booster for us,” Blackburn said. “We ramped it up in practice. We knew it was a big game coming in.”

“The rink was buzzing and the boys are having fun competing at this high level,” Rutt said. “We obviously have quite a history with (Greely). They’re a really good team and we had to play our best to compete with them. We weren’t nervous. We have a tenured group here that knows how to manage a lead. We didn’t sit back on our heels. We managed pucks in the neutral zone and the boys got it done. We stuck to the game plan.”

Depke made 16 saves to help close out the victory.

For Greely, Wiessner made 40 saves, but this time, the Rangers couldn’t completely dig out of a hole.

“A lot of of things didn’t go well for us today,” said Mothes. “We’re not too deep to begin with and we’re a little undermanned right now. We scrambled to get combinations going and we took too many penalties. It was a good effort to get that goal back in the second and lo and behold, it was a one-goal game in the third. We had a couple power plays, but unfortunately, some of our decisions on the power play were rushed at times. We took shots from bad angles. That’s not ideal. We were a little panicky at times and they defended well.


“It’s great to have this game early. Obviously, Cape is a team that will be battling for a top spot in our league. We like to think we’ll be too and this gave us a measure of where we stand. Credit to them for playing a faster, stronger game today.”

Challenges continue

The teams square off again Feb. 17 in Cumberland and both squads figure to look dramatically different in two months time.

In the meantime, Greely hopes to bounce back from this loss when it goes to another Class A contender, Thornton Academy, Saturday.

“We’re playing good teams and we’re going to try and learn from this,” said Mothes. “We have another tough one Saturday. We’ve got a lot of young guys in new and elevated roles. We need a lot out of them and a lot out of our veterans. We just have to dig down. If we take care of the puck better, we won’t get in as many holes.”

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile faces yet another stern test when it plays at Falmouth Saturday.

“We just need to keep skating hard in practice and not let our egos get the best of us,” Moon said.

“We’re just looking to try and get better,” Rutt said. “This is a good win, but now, we’ll look to Falmouth. In order to be the best, you have to play the best teams. We have a good, challenging schedule. I’m excited to see what these guys can do.”

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

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