PORTLAND—Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ hockey team embraced the challenge and rose to the occasion and as a result, its ceiling appears limitless.

Thursday evening at Troubh Ice Arena, the Capers hosted undefeated, reigning Class B state champion Brunswick, but instead of entering the game with trepidation, Cape Elizabeth came in confident and wound up with its biggest victory of the season.

The Capers scored the only goal they would need late in the first period when senior Connor Goss finished.

Cape Elizabeth wasn’t able to build on its lead for a long time, but its defense and senior goalie Charlie Garvin frustrated the potent Dragons throughout and finally, with just 1:02 to play, senior Nick Laughlin scored an empty net goal and that brought the curtain down on an inspirational 2-0 victory.

The Capers carried play much of the night, wound up with a big shots advantage, improved to 9-2 and in the process, dropped Brunswick to 10-1-1.

“Confidence comes with preparation,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Jake Rutt. “We had good practices leading up to this game. I didn’t need to do much motivation in the locker room or on the bench. We have a great leadership group. We’re a deep team and we know how to win. This was a good team win.”


Statement made

Brunswick stole headlines a year ago as it outlasted Cheverus/Yarmouth in five-overtimes in the Class B South semifinals, upset two-time reigning state champion Greely in the regional final, then held off Camden Hills to win its first state title.

This winter, the Dragons have picked right up where they left off, defeating host Leavitt (6-1) and visiting Camden Hills (7-5) and after settling for a 3-3 home tie against Cheverus/Yarmouth, beating visiting Kennebunk (5-2), Gorham (5-2), Leavitt (6-1) and Cape Elizabeth (4-1) and winning at Kennebunk (9-2), at home over Hampden Academy (2-1) and at Thornton Academy (2-1) and Mt. Ararat (9-1)

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, started fast by downing visiting York (6-2), visiting Leavitt (3-1), host Cheverus/Yarmouth (6-1) and visiting Gorham (4-2) before being blanked by visiting Class A power Thornton Academy (2-0). The Capers opened the new year with an 8-1 win at Kennebunk, then fell at Brunswick (4-1) before downing host York (2-0), visiting Biddeford (5-1) and visiting Greely (9-2).

In the teams’ first meeting, the Dragons prevailed, but the Capers felt like they let an opportunity slip away and they welcomed the rematch.

Thursday, Cape Elizabeth started fast and never let up.


Cape Elizabeth senior Connor Goss races up the ice early in the Capers’ 2-0 win over reigning Class B champion Brunswick Thursday. Hoffer photos.

The Capers were stymied early by Luke Patterson, the Dragons’ stellar senior goalie, who denied a shot from junior Colin Blackburn and bids from Goss and Laughlin on the power play.

Each team failed on an initial power play, as on Brunswick’s opportunity, Garvin made a glove save on a blast by freshman Ethan Patterson and also saved shots from senior Brady LaForge and senior Nick Marro.

With 5:41 to go in the first period, a Marro blast ricocheted off the crossbar and the rebound was cleared.

Cape Elizabeth then went on top with 2:39 left, as Goss took a pass from senior Phil Coupe and fired the puck past Luke Patterson and in for a 1-0 advantage.

“After last game, we out-shot them 2-1, so we came in with the mindset if we could score first, we could win,” Goss said. “Lots of credit to Phil on that goal. He found the soft spot and I just had to get the puck in.”

“We got one early and it’s a lot easier to play with a lead than trying to chase,” said Rutt. “That was a point of emphasis to score first, then we could dictate play from there.


After enjoying a 10-7 shots advantage in the first period, the Capers put 19 shots on goal in the second, but couldn’t bury one in the net.

After Luke Patterson robbed Blackburn on a rush, he saved a shot from freshman Alex Mainville, but Goss appeared to bury the rebound on a wrap-around.

The goal was waved off, however, as it was ruled that Patterson had stopped the puck.

Despite the disappointment, Cape Elizabeth kept the pressure on only to see Patterson rob senior Dimitri Coupe point blank, deny Goss twice, Blackburn, Laughlin and Blackburn again.

With 6:12 left, Garvin stopped a shot from senior AJ Wolverton, then saved a rebound from senior Zach Stern-Hayes.

Thirty-five seconds later, Garvin robbed Marro.


Down the stretch, Luke Patterson kept the game within hailing distance by saving shots from Phil Coupe and two more from Blackburn, sending the game to the third period with the Capers clinging to a 1-0 advantage.

Early in the third, Brunswick tried to pull even when sophomore Avery Tatham had a good look, but Garvin made the save.

With 10:54 to go, Blackburn was sent to the penalty box for two minutes, but the Dragons couldn’t take advantage, as Stern-Hayes missed wide and Garvin saved shots from Marro and senior Kennedy Eddy.

The score remained 1-0 until Patterson was pulled with 1:30 to go.

With an extra skater, the Dragons looked to pull even, but Wolverton’s wrister sailed just high.

Laughlin then won the puck behind the net, turned and fired it up the ice where it slid true right into the net for an insurance goal.


“I was trying to score,” said Laughlin. “I saw the puck going down the middle of the ice and it felt good.”

“When the puck is on Nick’s stick, I know something good will happen and I knew then the game was over,” Goss said.

“Nick’s got a knack for finding the net,” Rutt added. “It was nice to see Nick and Phil play tonight. Their defensive game is really rounding out. They can contribute offensively, but you can see their sacrifice as defensemen.”

Cape Elizabeth then ran out the clock and celebrated its 2-0 victory.

The postgame celebration.

“We always battle against Brunswick,” Laughlin said. “I thought it was our best defensive game so far. We didn’t let up many opportunities and Charlie played really well. We had to stick with what we did best on defense.”

“We really don’t try to think about the score, so we just kept playing like we were playing,” Goss said.


“We tried to take away their time and space,” Rutt said. “We had to be physical with their goal-scorers.”

Cape Elizabeth enjoyed a 39-16 shots advantage and got 16 saves from Garvin.

Brunswick got 37 saves from Luke Patterson, but tasted defeat for the first time.

“Luke’s a very good goalie,” Rutt said. “We knew what we needed to do to get a couple by him. He made some really good saves to keep them in it. That’s what good goalies do.”

“We knew Cape’s a physical team and they played their game,” said Dragons coach Michael Misner. “We just missed some opportunities. If we hit on a couple of those, it could have been a different game. We just had to get more shots on net. We didn’t have enough. We needed to use our speed a little more.

“We want to win every game, but it’s been a long time since we’ve felt like this, going all the way back to last year (a 3-0 loss at Camden Hills Jan. 22, 2022). It’s been a good accomplishment and we’ll learn from this.”


Playoffs near

The Dragons (who are still ranked first in the Class B South Heal Points standings) look to return to form Wednesday of next week, but they’ll be tested at red-hot Cheverus/Yarmouth.

“We know we have the horses and we’re ready to go,” said Misner. “We’re already preparing for our next game.”

Cape Elizabeth (a close second to Brunswick in the Heals) is idle until Tuesday, when it plays at Gorham. The Capers then visit Camden Hills Wednesday of next week.

Cape Elizabeth wouldn’t be surprised to see the Dragons once more in the postseason.

“We just have to keep working as hard in practice as in games,” said Goss. “We know we’ll have to go through Brunswick to get to where we want to go.”

“This is a big confidence booster for us, but we have to keep grinding,” Laughlin said. “It’s a mindset for us. We have a lot of seniors and a lot of skills and we want to win.”

“We have to continue to work on conditioning and get stronger,” Rutt added. “We can get better in the neutral zone. We have to work on our puck movement and put more pucks in the net. It’s about getting better at the right time. We have a few more weeks until playoffs. We’re a confident bunch, but very far from a finished product. We just have to get to the playoffs, then hopefully play the game we want to play. I anticipate seeing (Brunswick) again.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected].

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