Corcoran hockey wins playoff opener

Nothing the Corcoran ice hockey team did going into the Section III Division I playoffs suggested that it would find any kind of success there.

Despite a no. 5 seed and an 8-3-2 league record, the Cougars had lost its last three regular-season games, giving up a combined 14 goals in defeats to Hamilton and Solvay in the weeks leading up to the post-season.

And now Corcoran was going south to face Cortland-Homer, the no. 4 seed, in last Friday's opening round, the same Golden Eagles squad that it had lost to 3-2 back on Dec. 20 at that same J.M. McDonald Sports Complex.

Yet despite the hostile setting, and despite a last-minute switch in the net, the Cougars came from behind to beat Cortland-Homer 3-1 and set up Wednesday's semifinal with top seed and defending state champion West Genesee.

An off-ice injury to Gavin Gretzky forced Corcoran head coach Matt Caron to insert senior Marcus Fortin into the net. Fortin had not played much this season - and the Golden Eagles tried to jump all over him in the first period.

Taking 15 shots, Cortland-Homer converted just once, Tim Walsh getting the goal, but that was all as the Cougars withstood all that pressure and only trailed 1-0 at the intermission.

From that point forward, Corcoran really took charge, earning 31 shots to the Golden Eagles' eight, and that constant pressure on Cortland-Homer goalie Cory Broyles would pay off.

Midway through the second period, the Cougars tied it, 1-1, on Dillon Brown's wrist shot from the slot. Then, just 1:51 before the period ended, Steve Young, who had just missed on a chance seconds earlier, got another clear shot off a pass from Dan Standford and beat Broyles for the go-ahead goal.

To protect that 2-1 lead, Corcoran attacked, not letting the Golden Eagles attain many chances in the third period. Young would earn the clinching goal with 1:07 to play, beating Broyles high as Andrew Jackson and Mike Downs got the assists.

Good as this was, Corcoran will need a remarkable effort on Wednesday to top West Genesee, who will be playing in front of a loud and friendly home crowd at Shove Park in Camillus for the 7:30 faceoff.

The Wildcats have shut out seven of its last eight opponents - including the Cougars in an 8-0 decision back on Jan. 24, also at Shove Park. The winner here would get the survivor of Tuesday's other semifinal, between Rome Free Academy and Cicero-North Syracuse, in Saturday's title game at Utica Memorial Auditorium.

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