Nick Laughlin and Sebastien Moon had themselves a day for the Cape Elizabeth Capers.
Each player had two goals to help the Capers defeat the Messalonskee Eagles 4-3 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland and claim the 2023 Maine Class B state title.
Moon said it was a special moment since the team has been playing with each other for a while.
“We all have played with each other in some different organizations: Casco Bay (youth hockey), middle school, and we all have been friends, hanging out since elementary school,” Moon said. “The chemistry is there with all of us.”
Cape Elizabeth coach Jacob Rutt said he saw the leaders Philip Coupe, Connor Goss, Dimitri Coupe, and Laughlin take ownership of how this season would play out.
“It was really impressive to see halfway through the season; I think we lost two out of three and you can see the leaders and the captains take control of the locker room,” Rutt said. “They got everyone to buy in and we haven’t looked back since.”
After a scoreless first period, the Capers (19-2) jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the second period when Laughlin’s shot from the right circle beat Eagles’ goalie Hunter Hallee (36 saves), 2:31 into the stanza. Colin Blackburn had the assist.
Just 74 seconds later, Laughlin skated towards Hallee from the right circle and Laughlin’s shot found the inside of the far post for a 2-0 lead.
Both goals came in front of the Cape Elizabeth student section.
“That’s all my friends up there; we will be celebrating with them later,” Laughlin said.
Laughlin’s busy second period continued just past the five-minute mark when he got called for interference. His teammates picked him up when Sebastien Moon scored a shorthanded tally at the 6:36 mark.
“I saw the puck go up to their defense and I got a stick on it,” Moon said. “I was able to skate and I faked a shot and I was able to go backhand and it went right in.”
Messalonskee (18-3-1) did get a power-play goal 13 seconds after Moon’s tally when Owen Kirk’s shot beat Cape Elizabeth goalie Charlie Garvin (17 saves).
Messalonskee went 1 for 2 on the man advantage and Cape Elizabeth was scoreless on its two chances.
The Eagles built momentum early in the third period when Cape got called for too many men on the ice. Messalonskee couldn’t score on the power play but was able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for the next few minutes.
After a Garvin great save four minutes into the period, a bad turnover by the Capers’ defense sent a Will Durkee blast past Garvin and Messalonskee cut the deficit to 3-2.
Cape Elizabeth got its first power play since the first period 7:08 into the third and Rutt called a timeout to gather his troops. After a couple of good looks on the man advantage, the puck bounced to Moon in front of the crease and he stuffed it in for a 4-2 lead at the 7:59 mark.
Durkee nearly scored his second of the game later in the period when his shot hit the crossbar. The officials did look at it for a couple of minutes but confirmed the call on the ice of no goal.
In the final two minutes, Garvin stopped Durkee’s breakaway attempt.
“We were a little uncharacteristic with the turnovers and they were able to stretch the ice a little bit,” Rutt said. “I know that was their game plan, but Charlie made some big saves for us – that’s what a championship goalie does.”
The Eagles battled to the final seconds when Grayson Podey’s shot in front of the crease snuck past Garvin.
Messalonskee coach Dennis Martin tipped his cap to the Capers.
“They are a heck of a hockey team,” Martin said. “We just battled, our team is going to work and keep fighting. We kept fighting to the last second. If we had 10 more seconds, who knows?”
Laughlin admitted, in the final two minutes, when Messalonskee had the pulled Hailee, he was shooting for the open net.
“At the end, I was firing it down – I had a few of those goals this year with the empty net,” Laughlin said.