Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland goalie Abbey Steinhagen blocks a shot over her shoulder as teammate Sofia Cook, right, and Lewiston’s Toree St. Hilaire look for a rebound during a Jan. 1 game in Lewiston. The Capers have been unable to play a game since. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Depth will be a factor in determining playoff seeds as the girls’ hockey season winds down with just two and a half weeks left. Several teams have scheduled make-up games because of contests postponed by COVID-19 issues.

Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland hasn’t played a game since a New Year’s Day loss to Lewiston, but Coach Bob Mills feels his team should be healthy and rested when it finally gets back on the ice Wednesday against St. Dominic/Gray-New Gloucester/Winthrop/Monmouth.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed we can play (Wednesday),” Mills said.

The Capers (6-1-1) had to shut down for a week because of COVID protocols, then missed games when opponents were sidelined by positive cases. The team has had a handful of practices over the past week, fine-tuning systems like breakouts, forechecks, and the power play. Conditioning also has been a focus for the Capers.

Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland is in third place in the South Heal points, behind No. 1 Scarborough (5-1-1) and No. 2 Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham (8-2-1). With so many teams playing without a full roster from game to game because of COVID protocols, Mills said it’s tough to get a bead on each contender’s strengths.

Mills said he’s looking forward to the rematch with Lewiston. The Blue Devils took the New Year’s Day matchup, 7-0, a game in which the Capers played without a handful of key players.

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“It’s really hard when I look at a box score to take it at face value because I know everybody is missing players,” Mills said. “We think we have depth. We really like our chances. But are we going to be healthy and are we all going to be able to play when we get to the playoffs?”

The Capers are young, and getting good production from freshmen forwards Marina Bassett and Libby Hooper, and freshman goaltender Abbey Steinhagen.

ONE OF THE SURPRISES in Class A boys’ hockey this season has been Fryeburg/Lake Region/Oxford Hills. The Ice Cats are 6-1, the lone loss a 2-1 defeat to Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse in the second game of the season. The team went 7-10-1 in 2019-20, the last full season of high school hockey in Maine.

A 7-5 victory over perennial contender Scarborough on Dec. 17 was a confidence builder for the team, said Coach Wayne Neiman.

“Going into that game, I don’t know if our kids believed they could go to the playoffs,” he said.

Caleb Micklon (seven goals, eight assists) and Owen Galligan (10 goals, five assists) are among the top scorers in Class A. Each of the Ice Cats wins has been by one or two goals. Neiman feels winning close games is a result of the emphasis the team had placed on conditioning.

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“If we can keep games close going into the third period, we like our chances, because the third period has been our best period all season,” Neiman said.

A game scheduled for Monday was postponed because the opponent, Kennebunk, went to remote learning last week. Friday’s game against Gardiner will be the Ice Cats’ first game since a 3-2 win over St. Dom’s on Jan. 8. The team was scheduled to practice Tuesday for the first time since last Wednesday, with Neiman giving the players some time for rest and recovery from injuries.

Neiman expects the team to get a boost with the return of sophomore defenseman Myles Wooster and junior forward Peyton McMurtray. Each player has been sidelined since suffering an injury in the preseason.

THE SOUTH PORTLAND/FREEPORT/WAYNFLETE (6-1) boys carry a three-game win streak into Thursday’s big game against Scarborough. The Red Riots outscored opponents 20-5 in those three games.

What made last Thursday’s 6-2 win over Cape Elizabeth, one of the top teams in Class B, special was it was done with junior varsity goalie Avi Israel in net. Israel made 18 saves, as starting goalie Jasper Curtis and his brother and backup Henry Curtis were unavailable because of COVID-19 protocols.

“(Israel) played really well. I was excited for him,” said Coach Joe Robinson. “Jasper, he’s the backbone of our team. He’s a great goalie, a great kid.”

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A key to the Red Riots success has been getting scoring punch from the top two lines. Cullen Adams (six goals, five assists) and Tobey Lappin (seven goals, four assists) lead the team in scoring, while Brady Frank (two goals, eight assists) also has chipped in. Dylan Hannan and Hewitt Sykes have stepped up offensively in recent games, Robinson said.

SITES HAVE BEEN selected for most of the regional and state hockey championships. The girls’ regional finals will be at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland on Feb. 16, with the state championship game also at Troubh, on Feb. 19.

On the boys’ side, the Class A semifinals will be at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on March 8, with the Class A and Class B state championships also at Cross Insurance Arena on March 12. The Class B South regional final will be at Troubh on March 9. The Class B North regional final will be held on March 9, at a site to be determined.

The traditional site for the state championships has been Lewiston’s Androscoggin Bank Colisee, which became unavailable when the Maine Principals’ Association and arena management could not agree on a split of ticket revenue.


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