Feb 22, 2012 Kris Russell Uncategorized
Skaneateles took Cazenovia’s best early shot, survived, and eventually wore down their fellow Lakers, 5-2, Tuesday night in the Section III Division II ice hockey semifinal at Allyn Arena.
The win earned no. 2 seed Skaneateles (13-2-6) a berth in Saturday’s title game at Utica Memorial Auditorium. Top seed Oswego will be the opponent after the Buccaneers defeated CBA/J-D 5-3 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Cazenovia (12-8-2) looked the team more likely to take the drive down I-90 the way the game started. The defending Division II state champions swarmed the hosts early, and got their reward when Jeff Stowell’s slapshot was tipped past Skaneateles goalie Trevor Diamond at the 4:14 mark.
Then Cazenovia went looking for more, but got caught on a counter 42 seconds after Stowell’s goal. Connor Hill neatly completed a 2-on-1 rush to tie the game at 1-1.
The visitors continued to create better chances, and once again took the lead. David Marshall got the goal at the 8:17 mark, banging home a rebound.
Yet again, Cazenovia couldn’t turn its territorial edge into another goal. And yet again Skaneateles made the visitors pay as, at the 12:15 mark, Mitchell Jones cruised into the slot, took a pass from Jon Rogalia, and ripped home a wrist shot.
The teams went to their locker rooms tied 2-2. Cazenovia outshot the hosts, 14-8, but both coaches said the score didn’t accurately reflect what happened on the ice.
“We knew the toughest period was going to be the first,” Skaneateles coach Mitch Major said. “I would say they had the better of the play.”
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work in your favor,” Cazenovia coach John Davignon said. “I think we were the better team but we didn’t get some bounces and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Skaneateles found a better pair of skating legs in the second period, and took advantage the way Cazenovia failed to earlier.
Brendan Major took a nice pass out front from Jake Cooney and zipped home the eventual game winner at the 6:37 mark. Hill then popped home his second, converting a Thomas Bronk pass with just 1:15 left in the period to make it 4-2.
Mitch Major credited his players with sticking to the game plan. “We were able just to mentally stay tough which meant win the 50/50 (situations), play physical, and we were going to get our turnovers,” he said.
Any thought Cazenovia had of getting back into the game were wrecked by Cooney just 50 seconds into the third period.
Cazenovia had a power play but Cooney paid no mind. The senior wing took a pass from Brendan Major, fought his way around a Cazenovia defenseman, and slipped a low backhand into the net.
“It was just pretty,” Mitch Major said. “He’s just a warrior. He played like a warrior tonight. He told me when he came off the ice he never, ever pulled that move off. He willed that into the net.”
A three-goal cushion was more than enough for the excellent Diamond, who finished with 23 saves. Cazenovia goalie Joey Vecchiarelli stopped 17 shots.
Sunday’s final is the rubber match between Skaneateles and Oswego. The Buccaneers won a 4-2 decision in Skaneateles in December at Allyn Arena. The Lakers returned the favor, coming away 3-2 winners at Oswego on Feb. 2.
“It’s just nice to be in the sectional championship,” Major said. “It’s a goal of ours to get back to Utica. It’s a special place for us.”
The Lakers last trip to the Aud was a successful one. Skaneateles defeated Whitesboro, 5-2, to capture the 2008 Section III title.
Cazenovia’s state title run concluded, as ultimately it could not overcome the personnel losses from its magical 2010-11 run. Now, Vecchiarelli, Brian Gara and Alan Baldwin depart, but there’s far more returning talent for 2012-13 as, together, the likes of Marshall, Connor Cannizzaro, Jeff Stowell, Jake Stowell and Joe Colligan lead the way.