Corcoran reaches Division II hockey final

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.

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