Charged with both intensity and emotion, the CBA/J-D ice hockey team set out to accomplish, in the opening round of the Section III Division II playoffs, what no one else has done this winter - namely, win at Auburn.
And the no. 5 seed Brothers pulled it off, edging the no. 4 seed Maroons 3-2 Friday night at Casey Rink with a combination of strong early offense and tenacious defense in the late going.
As a result, CBA/J-D will get a chance to avenge two regular-season losses to top seed Skaneateles in Tuesday night's Division II semifinal at Allyn Arena at 7 p.m. The winner there gets New Hartford or Oswego in next Saturday's sectional final at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
All week long, CBA/J-D head coach Mike McKie dealt with a heavy heart. His father, David McKie, died on Tuesday at age 84, just one day after his fiancee's father, Pat Murphy Jr., passed away.
So it was assistant coach Shaun Norfolk and the rest of the staff, plus the players, that had to work hard all week as McKie dealt with his family issues. Their task involved topping an Auburn team it lost to, 2-1, when it went to Casey Rink early in the season, but beat 4-0 in the rematch at Onondaga Nation Arena Jan. 4.
Instead of scoring flair, CBA/J-D used grit and determination to land both of its goals in the first period, twice slipping rebounds past Auburn goaltender Jeff Gardner as it slipped into a 2-1 lead. Ryan Durkin and Scott Firman got the goals.
Another rebound goal in the second period, where Lucas Relkin made his way to the front of the net and snared the puck from Gardner after he couldn't contain Durkin's initial shot, made it 3-1. Relkin, Firman and Durkin also earned one assist apiece as Sam Mueller and Kane Alletzhauser got credit for assists, too.