December 3, 2013
Veteran Golden Eagles skating in new division
There will be a a new league and lots of the same faces for the Cortland-Homer hockey team, which opens its season Wednesday at Auburn.
The Golden Eagles have gone from Division I to Division II this season due to state enrollment rule changes, and will be in the American Conference along with Auburn, Skaneateles, Syracuse CBA and Whitesboro. The National Conference consists of Cazenovia, Clinton, New Hartford, Ontario Bay and Oswego.
Teams will play each team in their division twice and go against the teams in the other division once each for a total of 13 league games. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the Division II sectionals.
“CBA, the defending state and sectional Division II champion, looks to be strong, Skaneateles is always a battle and Oswego has a strong youth program so I expect them to be good,” C-H coach Don Armstrong said. “I think we have a good shot to finish strong and get a good sectional seeding.
“The goal is 20 games,” he added. “We have 17 in the regular season so that’s three in the post-season, which this program hasn’t had in quite some time.”
As for the same faces, a total of 14 of the 21 players on last season’s roster return for the Golden Eagles, who were fifth in Section 3’s Division I West at 5-9-1 and wound up 6-13-2 overall. The season concluded with a first-round sectional loss to top-seeded Rome Free Academy in a game that came about because Fayetteville-Manlius was disqualified for playing one too many games.
Heading up the returnees are the team’s top two scorers last season, senior center Victor McCutcheon and junior left wing Danny Turck. Each finished with 22 points, McCutcheon on 14 goals and eight assists and Turck on 13 goals and nine assists. Both were also honorable mention all-leaguers.
Also back for what is still a young Cortland-Homer squad are seniors Zack Cornish (right wing; 3 goals-6 assists) and Luke van der Veur (left wing, 0-1-1) as well as juniors Matt May (center, 6-2-8, tied for sixth); his twin brother Mike May (right wing, 1-3); John-Morgan Burhans (defenseman, 1-7); Mike Gibbs (defenseman; 0-1); Brian Ordway (left wing; 0-2) and Tyler Wallace (goalie; 252 saves and a 4.14 goals-against average in 11 games).
Sophomore goalie Ryan Gabriel (160 saves and a 4.01 GAA in seven games) also returns, along with classmates Josh Button (forward), Sean Sullivan (forward-defenseman) and Clayton Larson (defenseman). In addition, junior forward Bailey Wood is back after taking last year off.
McCutcheon, Turck and Burhans are the captains this season.
The key graduation loss was defenseman Nick Burton, (3-9, third in scoring), who was earned all-league first-team honors. Also lost in June were defenseman Matt Condit (3-7), center Mike Lavere (4-4), left wing Alex Rosato (3-3), defenseman Casey Dailey (2-4) and right wing Alex West (4-1).
This winter’s rookies are junior forward Julia Brazo, sophomore forward Nick Johnson and freshmen defenseman Jared Berry and frosh forward Cole Compagni.
“The overall development of the junior class will be a key for us,” Armstrong said. “With 11 juniors on our 19-player roster, they provide the breadth and depth of the club. How the juniors go dictates how the team goes. The ones who didn’t see that much playing time last season will have to prepare for their new roles as quickly as possible, and how they react will be a big factor for us.”
As for lines and defensive pairings, Armstrong noted that McCutcheon will center the first line, with the wing slots to be divided in some fashion between three players. Turck will be the right wing and Cornish the left, and if van ver Veur is on the line he’ll play right wing and Turck left wing. Cornish and van der Veur will also be prime penalty killers when they’re not on the first line.
Matt May will center the second line between Mike May on the right side and Sullivan or Wood on the left. Button is the third-line center, with Compagni, Johnson and Brazo in the mix for the wings spots. Armstrong noted that van der Veur and Cornish could also see time as third-line wings.
Burhans and Ordway are the first defensive pair, Gibbs and Larson the second and Berry and Sullivan the third. Armstrong noted that Wallace and Gabriel should both see substantial playing time in goal.
Armstrong’s assistants this season are the returning Chad Totman, who works primarily with the forwards, and newcomer Steve Komanecky, an Auburn native who is a student at SUNY Cortland and will be the goalie coach.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe