November 29, 2011
Golden Eagles look to contend
Last year’s youth means this year’s experience for the 2011-12 Cortland-Homer hockey team, which opens play Wednesday by visiting Cicero-North Syracuse at the Cicero Twin Rinks in a non-leaguer that starts at 7:30 p.m.
Only four players graduated from last year’s Golden Eagles squad, which went 9-3-1 in Section 3 Division I, 9-4-1 in CNYSHL Division IB play and finished 9-9-1 overall after a first-round playoff loss to Corcoran.
Key among them were all-league second-teamers Casie Garrison, a forward who led the team in scoring with nine goals and eight assists for 17 points and defenseman Nick Potter, who was fifth on the team in scoring (3 goals-8 assists). Defenseman Nick LaRue and forward Brad Mitchell, each of whom had two assists on the season, also graduated.
The returning veterans are headed up by senior goalie Cory Broyles, who earned second-team all-star laurels with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 11 games. A trio of senior forwards who finished 2-3-4 on the team in scoring last year — Tim Walsh (8-8-16, all-league honorable mention), Aaron Zimmerman (3-12-15) and Zack Daniels (8-5-12) — bring experience to the offense.
Also back are a pair of seniors who tied for sixth on the Golden Eagles in scoring, forward Leo Riley (3-5-8) and defenseman Brandon Wood (2-6-8). Other returning seniors are defenseman Casey Bergeron (2-2-4) and goalie Brandon Paquin (3.26 GAA and .899 save percentage in nine games).
Returning juniors are defensemen Matt Condit (1-4-5), Casey Dailey, and Alex Rosato (0-1-1) and forwards Nick Burton (2-3-5), Alex West, and Mike Levere. Sophomore forward Zach Cornish is also back, as are freshman forward Danny Turck (5-2-7, eighth on the team) and freshman goalie Tyler Wallace.
Broyles and Zimmerman are the captains, with Daniels the assistant captain.
Newcomers to varsity hockey this season are sophomore forwards Luke Van der veur and Victor McCutcheon and six freshmen — forwards Matt May and Bailey Wood (Brandon’s brother), defensemen Mike May (Matt’s twin brother), Mike Gibbs and John-Morgan Burhans and goalie Gage Eldred.
Armstrong, while stressing that situations are still tentative, noted that Zimmerman, Bergeron, Burton and Levere will be vying for slots on the top two lines, with Daniels and Walsh on one line and Riley on other. The remaining forward after those lines are established will join Brandon Wood, Condit and Dailey on defense, he said, adding that Zimmerman and Levere are the top candidates at this point. Armstrong also said that Turck, Van der veur and McCutcheon look to be a good third line.
“We have an abundance of forwards and not that many experienced defensemen,’ Armstrong said. “We’re blessed with two solid goaltenders in Broyles and Paquin. They were a big, big part of our team last year and will be again this year. We were third in the league in goals against and eighth in goals for last season; hopefully we can maintain the goals against and improve on our scoring.
“This will be our second year in Division I. We had some success last year with some of the principles we used when we were in Division II. Last year we snuck up on some people, which won’t happen this year, but hopefully we’ll be more prepared this season and set the pace so other teams will have to work to stay with us.”
Division I of the CNYSHL has been split into two separate leagues again this year, with Baldwinsville, Corcoran, Fayetteville-Manlius, Liverpool, Solvay and defending sectional champion West Genesee joining the Golden Eagles in Division I West.
“All of the teams have experienced coaches and are looking to improve,” Armstrong said. “Every game will be a battle. Overall things have tightened up a bit more. It will be a lot like last year, and maybe a little tougher. Hopefully we’re a bit improved, too.
“This is a senior-dominated team — we have eight — and we’re looking for a lot of solid leadership from them. They’ll steer the ship.”
Chad Totman and Mike Whittaker return as Armstrong’s assistant coaches.
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