After a long summer of preparations, the Cape Elizabeth Capers varsity boys' hockey team took to the ice for the first time on Saturday night with abounding optimism and anticipation. Unfortunately for the Capers, Gorham's senior goaltender Noah Bird had other ideas as he turned away 36 of 37 shots to backstop the Rams to a victory in their home opener.

The Capers got off to a promising start in the first frame, with all four lines buzzing in the Gorham end and creating several quality scoring opportunities. Bird had turned aside seven Cape Elizabeth shots before the Rams would register their first shot on goal, when a stroke of misfortune ominously foreshadowed the evening ahead for the visitors. Rams junior Jack Niles would push the puck to the front of the Cape Elizabeth net, where Capers defenseman Gus Frankwicz would inadvertently kick the puck into his own net with 5:58 to play. Lucas Roop was credited with the lone assist.

The Capers would immediately take to the attack again, creating several impressive scoring chances that saw Bird robbing Capers forward Alex Glidden in the high slot and senior Evan Concannon on the doorstep. After a heavy spell of Cape Elizabeth pressure, Gorham senior Carter Landry found himself streaking through the neutral zone untouched before unleashing a laser that beat Capers goaltender Peter Haber and pushed the Rams to a 2-0 lead with just 2:12 to go in the first. The play was unassisted.

The Capers seemed destined for a comeback in the second period as a fast start built more pressure around Bird's goal. The visitors would finally break through at the 5:38 mark, with Concannon banging a rebound over Bird's shoulder for his first varsity goal, halving the deficit to 2-1. Ethan Gillespie would notch the only assist on the goal. The Capers would then carry the balance of play for the rest of the period, holding a 21-10 shot advantage after two frames despite trailing by one.

As the task of beating Bird seemed increasingly insurmountable, the Rams delivered a staggering blow to the Capers comeback hopes just 2:52 into the third. Landry again found himself in space, taking the puck wide into the Cape Elizabeth zone before beating Haber to his blocker side and extending the hosts' lead to 3-1. Niles would pick up an assist on the play for his second point of the night.

The story of this contest was Bird, however, who kept the Capers potent offense at bay throughout the entire third period, turning aside 16 shots in the final stanza alone. The Capers barrage continued right until the final buzzer, but with just over a minute to play Dominic Lorello would ice the cake for Gorham, sliding the puck into an empty net with Haber pulled for an extra attacker. Niles would add his third point of the day with the primary assist, with Jordan Gaudreau picking up the secondary.

In total, Bird made 36 saves as Cape Elizabeth outshot the Rams 37-16. The two teams will next meet on January 12th at Troubh Ice Arena.

NOTES: The Capers are now 1-3 at Gorham since the Rams joined Class B, the lone victory coming on December 23rd, 2015 in a 5-1 Cape Elizabeth victory. Gorham went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Cape Elizabeth was 0-for-1; the Capers had just 1:16 of power play time in the contest. Haber made 12 saves on 15 shots in defeat. 
The Cape Elizabeth Capers JV proved victorious in a topsy-turvy affair Friday night at Casco Bay Arena. The teams, playing in the league's debut of a "parity round" to ensure the best competition for all teams by the end of the season, showed there was plenty of parity between them as the game was decided by the narrowest of margins.

Cape Elizabeth got off to a strong start in the first period. With an offensive zone face-off in the Windham zone, Chris Laprade won the face-off back to freshman defenseman Ben Payson, who was playing in his first high school game. Payson collected the puck and unloaded a perfect wrist shot high over the goaltender's blocker to edge the Capers in front just two minutes into the game.

Laprade would figure into the second goal as well with a brilliant individual effort. Laprade beat a Windham defenseman one-on-one before making a deft move on the Windham goalkeeper to put the visitors in front 2-0. 

Windham would fight back, however, eventually tying the game at two before the end of the first frame. The game would ebb and flow throughout the second period, with another Caper striking for his first high school goal. Freshman forward Jonas Moon found himself open in the slot, one-timing a perfect pass from none other than Chris Laprade, his third point of the night. 

With the game squared at three late in the second, sophomore Spencer Sprague put the Capers ahead for good. Sprague muscled his way to the front of the net and tapped home a loose puck to edge Cape Elizabeth ahead 4-3. Sprague erupted in celebration, sending the crowd into delirium.

The third period remained scoreless with teams trading scoring opportunities. Windham pulled their goalkeeper with just under a minute to go, but Garrett Mello stood tall in net for Cape Elizabeth, while Stephen Murray and Brendan Goss had several key plays on defense down the stretch to secure the two points for the visiting team.

Cape Elizabeth will try to make it two straight when they square off with Yarmouth next Friday, December 9th. Puck drop is at 6:50 p.m. at Casco Bay Arena.