January 24, 2009


No one can kid Zimmerman now

Scores late goal to carry CHS-Homer past Solvay


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland-Homer’s Tim Walsh (18) works the puck at center ice in the first period against the Solvay defense at the J.M. McDonald Complex Friday night, where the Golden Eagles skated to a 3-2 victory.

Staff Writer

Paul Zimmerman has a talent for scoring goals while falling. He’s been ribbed about it by his coaches and teammates on the Cortland-Homer hockey team.
Friday night those same coaches and players were singing a different tune after the senior center found the back of the net while heading toward the J.M. McDonald Center ice near the top of the right-wing circle with 1:05 left in the game, giving the Golden Eagles a crucial 3-2 CNYSHL Division II West win over second place Solvay.
“They say that the harder you work, the luckier you get, and that was about as lucky as you can get,” Zimmerman said with a grin about his game-winner, his second goal of the game and team-high 18th of the season. “I thought I had the defender beat, but I got tripped up. I just reached for the puck and hit it as hard as I could.
“I didn’t know at first that it went in. I was face-down on the ice. Then I heard all the noise and was being picked up by my teammates. It was exciting,” he added.
“Sometimes quick shots like that don’t allow the goaltender to be set,” C-H coach Don Armstrong said. “We’ve given Paul grief over how many goals he’s scored while falling. At that point, with the time winding down, you already knew it was going to be a one-goal game.
“Close games are a test of character, with how you handle adversity,” Armstrong continued. “These kids show great resiliency, and a tremendous amount of heart and desire. There’s no quit in them, and Zimm is at the head of the class in that regard.”
One sweep of Zimmerman’s stick sent the puck past a surprised Bearcats freshman goalie Ryan Bonk, chest high and to his left. It provided the deciding turn in a roller-coaster game that it looked like Solvay would at least get a tie out of, duplicating the 3-3 deadlock the two teams played to at the State Fair Coliseum Dec. 17.
The Bearcats trailed 2-0 before finally getting one past C-H senior goalie Brett Kash with 1:45 left in the middle stanza, and tied the score one minute into the third. The two teams traded offensive opportunities, and Kash and Bonk traded saves, until the decisive tally. The visitors had a brief power play after the Golden Eagles were whisled for a penalty with 10 seconds left, but were unable to get off a shot before the final buzzer.
The contest also matched the hottest two teams in the CNYSHL Division II West. Solvay came in having gone 6-1 in league play since that tie and the Golden Eagles are now 6-1-1 against fellow league members since opening the season with a pair of setbacks. Solvay is in second place at 8-2-1 (12-5-2 overall), while Cortland-Homer is fourth at 6-3-1, one point behind third-place Skaneateles, and is 8-7-1 overall.
Also going against each other were what both coaches said were the top two lines in the league, Zimmerman, his brother Carl (junior right wing) and senior left wing Matt Porter for the hosts against Solvay’s deadly senior trio of Tim Burgess (Section 3’s leader in goals, with 35, and points, with 58), Josh Ginestro and Ryan Chapman.
“Solvay is an excellent team,” Armstrong said. “Our first line did a good job offensively (Paul Zimmerman with the two goals and an assist and Porter with an assist), and also did a good job against them defensively. The kids were aware of (Burgess and the Bearcats’ offensive talents). I asked them to be unselfish and play defense, and they did that. As coaches, we can’t say enough about them. They listen and try to adjust their play in accordance with our coaching, and you can’t ask for more.
“John (Campbell, Solvay’s head coach) does a great job with his guys. It was a great game with nothing cheap going on, kids just trying to play to the best of their abilities.”
“I’d say this game matched the best two goalies in the league,” Campbell said. “We took it to Kash, and he kept them in the game.”
Kash collected 26 saves to 18 for Bonk, as the Bearcats had a 28-21 shot advantage.
“I think our first line is number one with theirs very close behind, with great passing. I felt we outplayed them and lost, and with both teams having three powerful lines (overall) and only five goals being scored, there was great goaltending,” said Campbell. “With so many great shots, for the game to end like that was pretty amazing. That was a great play at such high speed; their kids are athletic, and so are ours.”
Neither team scored in the first period, though Bonk did stop C-H junior forward Chris Broyles one-on-one with 45 seconds left. Zimmerman opened the scoring just 27 seconds into the second from close range deep in the slot, tipping home a shot from the top of the left-wing circle by senior defenseman Nate West. Porter also earned an assist on the play.
Zimmerman returned the favor, taking a shot from the same area high on the left-wing circle that West steered home from close range on the right side with 5:03 left in the second to give C-H a 2-0 lead.
Chapman scored from the right-wing circle 3:48 later after a cross-ice pass from Burgess, who subsequently came from behind the net on the left-wing side to poke a loose puck home a minute into the third to tie the score.
Then came what Campbell called the decisive moment of the game, as Solvay senior defenseman Nick Downs was whistled off for both trippping and hitting from behind with 10:51 left and was also assessed a misconduct that kept him out of the game for all but the final 51 seconds.
“Nick’s a senior captain, and to lose him in the third period hurt,” Campbell said. “He would have been on the side of the ice the winning goal was scored from. It was a tough break.”
Kash noted that once the Bearcats had tied the score, he had to look ahead. “When we get a lead, we have some young kids who get big-headed,” he said. “We started scrambling and got away from all our systems. After the tying goal, I just said ‘No more goals can go in.’ I’ve worked on being able to put things like that behind me. The second goal was a bad turn of events, with a bad bounce of the puck. I just tried to put it behind me as fast as I could.”
“They had momentum going for them, but we battled and kept in it the whole game,” Zimmerman said. “Kash made some great saves. We had to finish, and caught a break.”
Cortland-Homer visits Cicero-North Syracuse Tuesday in a non-leaguer, then has league games against fourth-place Syracuse CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt (5-6, 6-10) on consecutive nights Friday (at the Onondaga Nation Rink) and at home a week from today in a 7 p.m. start.

Cortland-Homer 3, Solvay 2
By periods:
Solvay 0 1 1 — 2
Cortland-Homer 0 2 1 — 3
Goals-Assists: Solvay- Tim Burgess 1-1, Ryan Chapman 1-0. Cortland-Homer- Paul Zimmerman 2-1, Nate West 1-1, Matt Porter 0-1.
Shots: Solvay 28, Cortland-Homer 21.
Penalties: Solvay 7 for 10:30 (plus 10-min. misconduct), Cortland-Homer 6 for 9:00.
Power Plays: Solvay 0-for-4, Cortland-Homer 0-for-4.
Saves: Ryan Bonk (S) 18, Brett Kash (C-H) 26.