Jan 05, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Less than a second of time on the clock separated the Skaneateles boys ice hockey team from a defeat to Cortland-Homer in the first round of its own Duke Schneider Memorial Tournament on Friday.
Somehow, the Lakers escaped that predicament and, by Saturday afternoon, was skating away with the first-place trophy after beating Canandaigua 3-1 in the title game at Allyn Arena.
It was quite a journey, and coming in the wake of a 2-2 tie against Auburn earlier in the week, may serve as a turning point, should Skaneateles end up doing something special later this winter.
Cortland-Homer, from the Division I ranks, proved quite stingy in that opening-round game. Through the first two periods, all of the Lakers’ shots were turned away as Golden Eagles goaltender Gage Eldred was on his way to a 29-save night.
Yet the Lakers matched Cortland-Homer’s defensive effort until a goal in the second period put the Golden Eagles in front, 1-0. Even when Connor Hill got the Lakers on the board in the third period off a feed from Owen Kuhns, Cortland-Homer maintained a 2-1 lead as Nick Burton and Matt May earned their goals.
As regulation time wound down, Skaneateles pulled goalie Ethan Kupp for an extra attacker. Applying all-out pressure, the Lakers were about to see that effort come up short.
But 0.5 seconds before the horn, Tyler Strods, taking a pass from Hill, poked the puck past Eldred and into the net, tying the game 2-2 and sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
It also sent the game to overtime, which resolved nothing. Skaneateles and Cortland-Homer would need a shoot-out to settle matters.
Through five rounds, each side had only one goal, Kupp and Eldred making four saves apiece. But in the sixth round, the Lakers converted, and the Golden Eagles could not, and Skaneateles was in the finals.
Now the Lakers had to turn its attention to Canandaigua, who had beaten Williamsville South 4-1 in the other half of the opening round.
The Braves, like Cortland-Homer, would score first, going ahead 1-0 on Luke MacNeil’s power-play goal. From that point forward, though, the Lakers completely controlled the flow of play, eventually taking 30 shots to Canandaigua’s 10.
Owen Kuhns tied it, 1-1, scoring on the power play 9:08 into the first period as Hill and Jake Cooney earned assists. Then, 4:48 into the second periods, Kuhns, off a pass from Patrick Major, flung a wrist shot from the left side that flew through a screen and into the net for the go-ahead goal.
Staying on the attack, Skaneateles still nearly saw its 2-1 lead disappear. Midway through the third period, Canandaigua got another power play, and Danny Phelps struck a slap shot from the point that clanged hard off the left post and went 20 feet in the air.
The Braves never got that close again, and Cooney added an empty-net goal with 3.6 seconds left. Strods’ clutch goal earned him tournament MVP honors, with Kuhns joining him on the All-Tournament team.
Skaneateles, one point behind Oswego in the Division II standings, takes a 9-1-2 record into Tuesday’s game at Fulton and is back home Friday to face Whitesboro.