Jan 04, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Two long weeks, plenty of rest, and the last-minute revision of a weekend slate did nothing to slow down the Skaneateles boys ice hockey team, nor did it curtail its newfound, uncanny ability to deliver the big plays right when they are needed the most.
In Friday night’s opening round of the Duke Schneider Memorial Tournament, the Lakers trailed Canandaigua late in the third period, only to score twice in a span of 22 seconds to turn a possible defeat into a satisfying 2-1 victory that, by the end of the weekend, had helped propel Skaneateles to the tournament title.
The win resembled what took place on that same home ice Dec. 20, when Skaneateles, no. 9 in the latest state Division II rankings, rallied from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes of regulation and beat rival Auburn 3-2 on Patrick Major’s goal with five seconds left in overtime.
Following that, the Lakers alternated between practice and rest before suiting up for the Schneider Tournament – which ended up taking a very different shape from its original intent.
At first, Skaneateles was to face Clarence (Section VI) in Friday’s opening round after another Section VI squad, Williamsville South, played Canandaigua. But weather issues kept Williamsville South from making the trip, reducing it to a three-team field.
As a result, the schedule was changed. Now Skaneateles would face Canandaigua on Friday, with the Braves turning around to take on Clarence Saturday before a game between the Lakers and Red Devils on Sunday to close things out.
Just as with Auburn, the Lakers would find plenty of early frustration against Canandaigua. Twice in the opening period, Skaneateles picked up power plays, but did not convert either of them.
Keeping up the pressure, the Lakers harassed the Braves early in the second period, but it remained 0-0, and after it killed off a third Skaneateles power play, Canandaigua broke through with Connor Heeb’s goal with just 23.6 seconds left in the period to go in front 1-0.
Somehow, Skaneateles kept its patience in the third period, even as it got two more power-play opportunities and could not convert either of them. By this point, the Lakers had 25 shots to the Lakers’ 10, and still trailed by one, unable to get anything past Canandaigua goalie Bryce Guay.
But the Lakers kept pushing – and with 1:52 left in regulation, Raymond Falso, working his way to the front of the Braves’ net, took a pass from Major and poked home the tying goal. Owen Kuhns also earned an assist.
Before Canandaigua could even recover, Skaneateles, with its top line on the ice, attacked off the ensuing face-off and, 22 seconds later, Kuhns, taking a feed from Major, banged a wrish shot past Guay for what proved to be the winning goal.
Skaneateles returned on Sunday to face Clarence, and the game turned into a long standoff, uninterrupted by any goals in regulation or overtime and ending 0-0, the Lakers surviving the Red Devils’ challenge to finish on top of the tournament field.
Defenses would rule the day. Neither side started fast, and the Lakers were unable to capitalize on its lone power-play opportunity in the first period.
Worse yet, Skaneateles missed out on a five-on-three chance early in the second period, and saw Kuhns take a hard hit right in front of his own bench, forcing him to leave the game.
Through a tense third period, it remained 0-0, and so Skaneateles and Clarence went to overtime. During the five-minute extra period, freshman goalie Kyle Oschner made a big point-blank save to keep it tied, and it would end that way.
Even though he missed the final stages of the tournament, Kuhns still picked up MVP honors, while Tyler Strods joined him on the All-Tournament team.