Mar 03, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even though the Corcoran ice hockey team got blindsided on the big stage of the Section III Division II championship game by the state no. 1-ranked New Hartford Spartans last Sunday at the Onondaga County War Memorial, at least the Cougars got that far.
Corcoran’s entry into the championship round proved far from easy. It took a lot of resilience, combined with Jason Frier’s superb work in goal, to escape a 4-3 double-overtime classic with Cazenovia in the Feb. 25 Division II semifinal at Meachem Rink.
An overflow crowd looked on at Meachem as the Lakers, no. 3 in the state Division II rankings, jumped in front less than two minutes into the game on Brian Gara’s shot from the right point.
Derek Eccles answered less than a minute before the first period ended, setting up a pattern where every time Cazenovia would go in front, Corcoran would answer.
They traded power-play goals in the second period — Sean Cannizzaro converting for the Lakers, Andrew Jackson tying it again less than three minutes later.
Midway through the third period, Cazenovia took its third lead of the night when Ben Lewis put in the rebound. But with 1:52 left in regulation, just after the Cougars took its time-out (and just before it would pull Frier for an extra attacker), Eccles converted his second goal, making it 3-3 and forcing overtime.
And there would be lots of OT. Here, just as in regulation, Cazenovia would make long and sustained attacks. Each time, Frier stuffed them, building up his total to 51 saves, saving some of the best stops for OT to keep his team alive.
Late in the second OT, Cazenovia tried to clear the puck out of its own end — but James Cathers swooped in for a steal, then charged to the net and flung a shot past Cazenovia goalie J.R. Vecchiarelli for the game-winner.
Just like that, the Cougars were in Sunday’s finals at the War Memorial, charged with the task of trying to end New Hartford’s 15-game win streak.
As it turned out, the Cougars would not come close to the task, overwhelmed in a 9-0 defeat where the Spartans’ explosive offense made the difference.
Corcoran’s best chance came in a scoreless first period, where it controlled large portions of the game and took 13 shots — but New Hartford goalie Dylan Smith stopped all of them.
Then, in the span of a minute early in the second period, it all fell apart. Down one man in a four-on-three situation, New Hartford’s Mike Zalewski took a faceoff, skated to the net and beat Frier one-on-one to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
Just 50 seconds later, Zalewski hit again off a feed from Tom Fiorentino. On the ensuing face-off, Fiorentino won control of the puck, skated right to the net and converted again — two goals, seven seconds apart.
Flustered by the three goals that came in a 57-second span, the Cougars could not answer, despite 17 shots in that second period. And New Hartford poured in on in the final period by scoring six times. Zalewski finished with four goals, and the Spartans converted four times short-handed.