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December 02, 2008

 

Golden Eagles have new look

Golden Eagles

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland-Homer’s Carl Zimmerman (right), boucing off a check against Skaneatleles last season, is among the returning Golden Easgles who open the season at Watertown IHC Wednesday.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

The emphasis has shifted for the Cortland-Homer hockey team, which opens its season Wednesday on the road against CNYSHL Division II West opponent Watertown IHC.
“As a unit, the seniors we lost last season had pretty good size and strength,” said Golden Eagles coach Don Armstrong said, his team having finished fourth in the league at 10-6 last winter and 11-14 overall after a first-round sectional loss to Whitesboro. “This season we have more speed overall, and handle the puck better.
“No one is irreplaceable, but Steve Stowell will be tough to replace and Vic Marchetti was our go-to guy on defense. He got a lot of ice time.”
Stowell centered the first line and was the team’s leading scorer with 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points. He was a first-team all-league selection, while Marchetti made the second team. Also lost to graduation were right wing Andre Coen, goalie Matt Everts, left wing Codie Garrison, left wing Clayton Law, defenseman Sean McSherry and defenseman Jack Spallone.
The top returnees are senior forward Paul Zimmerman, who was second on the team in scoring last season with 16 goals and 27 assists; senior forward Matt Porter (15-16), junior forward Carl Zimmerman (4-8), senior defensemen Nate West (1-8) and Brett Snyder and senior goalies Brett Kash (2.88 GAA in 20 games) and Nicolo Baldarotta (4.04 GAA in four games).
After Stowell, the next six top scorers from last season return, though there was a precipitous dropoff between the third (Porter, 31 points) and fourth (Carl Zimmerman, 12). “We have to have more meat in the middle, players with 12, 15, 18, 20 points,” Armstrong said. “We also want to become more versatile, so if someone has a down night someone else can step in and we won’t lose anything.
“We have a good core of returning players, with eight seniors; this is Paul Zimmerman’s fifth year on the team, while Porter, West, Kash, Sam Ferro (forward, 5-2 last season) and Matt Grimes (forward, 2-3) are in their fourth seasons, Snyder his third and Baldarotta his second after coming here last year.”
Other veterans are sophomore forward Connor Ferrito (6-3 last season), sophomore defenseman-forward Corey Gibbons, sophomore defenseman Nick Potter, junior forward Chris Broyles (1-1), sophomore forward Casie Garrison (0-2, Codie’s brother) and junior defenseman Garrett Ordway.
Paul Zimmerman, Porter and West are the captains this season.
The newcomers are sophomores Nick LaRue (defenseman-forward) and Brad Mitchell (forward) and freshmen Brandon Wood (defenseman), Casey Bergeron (forward), Aaron Zimmerman (defenseman-forward, Paul and Carl’s brother), Tim Walsh (forward), Cortland ‘Cory’ Broyles (goalie, Chris’s brother), Zack Daniels (forward), Brandon Paquin (goalie) and Leo Riley (forward).
Walsh and Cory Broyles have been the standout rookies so far, as Armstrong sees it. He also noted: “Our overall talent and skill level is a little better than last year. We had a shorter bench then, which we’re trying to stay away from.”
The top returning forwards, Armstrong noted, are Porter, Paul Zimmerman and Carl Zimmerman. “We look to them to lead the forwards, whether they play on one line or we intersperse them,” he said. “The defensive pairings we like so far are West and Ordway, Gibbons and Snyder — West and Gibbons the returnees with the most experience — and Potter and LaRue.
“Kash and Baldarotta have looked solid in goal so far, and as seniors have a certain level of maturity that has helped their play.”
When asked about team goals, Armstrong noted: “Some of them relate to how we play and approach games and practices, and how we come together as a team. The kids who are back have been to sectionals and are looking to return. I don’t see that it’s going to be any easier. It’s going to be a battle.
“Skaneateles is always near the top of the league, CBA is always going to be good, the Solvay coach is looking for his team to be better and Corcoran is always physically tough and can score. You really can’t leave any team out (in discussing the league race).”
Former Golden Eagle player Chad Totman returns as an assistant coach, while Armstrong’s other assistant — another C-H alumnus, Michael Whittaker — is new this season.