Feb 07, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A whole lot was on the line when neighbors Skaneateles and Auburn had their latest ice-hockey showdown Thursday night at Casey Park, most notably first place and a possible league title in the Division II American Conference.
Yet what the Maroons had going for it was something the Lakers could not match – home ice, a large home crowd cheering them on, and revenge on the mind.
All of these factors came into play, especially in the decisive second period, when Skaneateles saw a scoreless duel turn into an Auburn surge that, this time, the Lakers could not answer, leading to a 4-0 defeat.
Everyone on both sides remembered what had taken place Dec. 20 at Allyn Arena. In that game, Auburn carried a 2-0 lead deep into the third period, only to see the Lakers roar back and tie it in the waning minutes of regulation and then win it 3-2 seconds before the overtime period ended.
So as the Maroons bounced back from that disappointment and back into league title contention, it had not forgotten the pain of that defeat and eagerly awaited the rematch with the Lakers, who entered the game no. 10 in the state Division II rankings.
After a 24-hour postponement Wednesday’s large snowstorm, things cleared up a night later. It was Senior Night for Auburn, so pre-game festivities marked the occasion before the first-place showdown could commence.
When it did, neither side could break through in a fast-paced, 0-0 first period with few whistles. Skaneateles took eight shots to Auburn’s six, but none of them got past Maroons goalie Brandon Entenmann, and the Lakers couldn’t capitalize on the lone penalty in that period.
Fueled by that stop, Auburn went on the power play early in the second period and, at the 5:19 mark, took a 1-0 lead as Danny Entenmann found the net off a feed from Mike Gentile.
When Skaneateles was unable to convert on a second power play, Auburn again made them pay for it. At the 10:45 mark, amid a battle in front of the Lakers’ net, Sean Lattimore powered the loose puck past Jarrett McDonald, making it 2-0.
This was, of course, the exact same scenario as the first meeting, so the Lakers weren’t too discouraged. But that feeling changed with 1:41 left in the second period as Danny Entenmann returned to deliver a second goal amid a scramble similar to Lattimore’s tally.
Now trailing 3-0 going to the third period, the Lakers saw a third power-play attempt go dry, and the Maroons sealed it when Nick Netti found the net with an unassisted goal. None of the Lakers’ 28 shots got past Brendan Entenmann, while McDonald made 23 saves.
What made the result more difficult to take for Skaneateles was that, even if it beat Clinton Sunday to tie Auburn for the league title, the Maroons have the tie-breaker to get the top seed for the Section III Division II playoffs. Thus, the Lakers would finish second and only be guaranteed one home sectional playoff game late next week.
But at least it went into that Clinton game feeling good following Friday night’s tense 2-1 victory over the Division I Syracuse Cougars at Allyn Arena.
Neither team could score in the first two periods. Then, in the final period, Skaneateles broke through as Patrick Major and Raymond Falso each scored, with assists from Reece Eddy, Briggs Carter, Tyler Strods and Trey Wirth.
That negated a goal by the Cougars’ Sean Eccles, which was all that a stingy Laker defense would allow as Kyle Oschner, taking his turn in the net, recorded 21 saves.
When the game at Clinton did get played on Sunday afternoon, Skaneateles was ready for it – especially Major, who took a central role as the Lakers rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Warriors to earn a share of the league title with Auburn.
The Lakers wasted little time, grabbing a 2-0 first-period lead as Major and Strods scored, with Eddy and Devin Callahan earning assists. Then, in the second period, Falso assisted on Major’s second goal, and minutes later, off a feed from Kuhns, Major completed the hat trick.
Skaneateles had little trouble from there, only surrendering the shutout when Clinton’s Ben Owens scored in the third period. Otherwise, Oschner turned everything away and finished with 19 saves.
As it turned out, though, the game was just one long dress rehearsal. Since Skaneateles finished second in the American division and Clinton was third in the National division, the Lakers and Warriors will have a rematch Friday at 7 p.m. at Allyn Arena in the opening round of the Division II playoffs.
The winner will get Oswego or Whitesboro in next week’s semifinals, with the title game Feb. 22 at Utica Memorial Auditorium.