December 4, 2012
New look to Golden Eagles
The Cortland-Homer hockey team is going to need contributions from some new sources to be successful in its 31st season, which opens Wednesday with a visit to Syracuse — the Corcoran High squad that is now combined with the former Solvay program — for a Section 3 Division I West game at Meachem Rink.
That’s because coach Don Armstrong’s Golden Eagles lost players who accounted for 15 of their 32 goals and 34 of their 75 points last winter, as well as both goalies who started on a rotational basis for a squad that went 3-7-2 in league play. CHS-Homer finished sixth out of seven teams, missing out on sectionals, and 6-11-3 overall.Goalie Cory Broyles was a first-team all-league netminder last winter, when he had a goals-against average of 2.64 and stopped 253 shots for a save percentage of .910 with one shutout in 10 games against top opponents. Brandon Paquin also appeared in 10 games with a GAA of 2.55, 278 saves and a save percentage of .917 and two shutouts.
A trio of players tied for the team lead in scoring, and two of them, forwards Casey Bergeron (6-4-10) and Leo Riley (4-6-10), are gone, along with forward Zach Daniels (4-2-6), forward Aaron Zimmerman (1-5-6), and two players, forward Tim Walsh (0-1-1) and defenseman Brandon Wood, who dealt with injuries last winter.
Among the returnees, senior defenseman Nick Burton was a second-team all-league selection, while sophomore forward Danny Turck (6-4-10) joined Bergeron and Riley atop the team’s scoring list. Other veterans include seniors Mike Lavere (forward, 2-6-8), Matt Condit (defenseman, 1-3-4), Casey Dailey (defenseman, 0-2-2), Alex West (forward, 0-2-2) and Alex Rosato (forward, 0-2-2), and juniors Victor McCutcheon (forward, 2-5-7), Zack Cornish (forward, 0-1-1) and Luke van der Veur (forward).
Sophomores Tyler Wallace (goalie, 3.17 GAA, 13 saves, .867 save percentage in limited playing time), Gage Eldred (goalie), John-Morgan Burhans (defenseman), Mike Gibbs (defenseman), Matt May (forward) and Mike May (forward, Matt’s twin brother) are also back from last season.
Burton is the captain this season, with Lavere, Condit and Dailey the assistant captains.
Varsity newcomers for 2012-13 are sophomores Brian Ordway (forward), Clayton Larson (defenseman) and Sean Sullivan (forward), and freshmen Josh Button (forward) and Ryan Gabriel (goalie).
“We lost a lot of seniors, but the group of six seniors we have this year has shown pretty well,” said Armstrong, starting his 11th season of coaching the squad in a second stint after being in charge for its first three years as a varsity squad. “How the seniors go is how our team goes, to a large extent. We have three very experienced senior defensemen in Burton, Dailey and Condit, and they’ll be our mainstays.
“At the same time, we have to get more offensive production to help the defense. We were third in Division I in goals-against last season, which is going to be tough to do again with new goalies. We’re going to have to play real strong team defense and apply more pressure at the other end of the rink. Our three scrimmages were low-scoring, but there was some spark on the offensive end. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far.”
Armstrong said that Lavere will center the first line, with West at right wing and Rosato at left wing, while the second line will have McCutcheon at center, Cornish at right wing and Turck at left wing. Matt May will center the third line, with the other two spots on that line and all three fourth-line slots up for grabs between Mike May, van der Veur, Ordway, Sullivan and Button.
Dailey and Burton are the first defensive pairing, with Condit and Burhans the second and Gibbs and Larson the third. The pecking order among the goalies hasn’t shaken out, according to Armstrong, who said that Wallace, Eldred and Gabriel all showed well in the Golden Eagles’ scrimmages.
“West Genesee is always at the top of the food chain, so to speak,” Armstrong said of the Division I West outlook, “and Syracuse is stronger as well, with more depth than they’ve ever had.” As mentioned, the Corcoran team absorbed Solvay’s when the latter folded, picking up a selection of players from that school as well as Westhill, Marcellus, Jordan-Elbridge and Bishop Ludden.
“We hope to fare well and be right in the league mix,” Armstrong said. “It will be a tough battle, and we look forward to that. This year, instead of playing each team in Division I once, we play each one in the West twice and each team in the East once.”
The other teams joining the Golden Eagles in the West, along with West Genesee and Syracuse, are Baldwinsville, Fayetteville-Manlius and Liverpool. The East is made up of Central Square, Cicero-North Syracuse, Ontario Bay, Rome Free Academy and Watertown IHC.
“We want to focus on trying to get better every day,” Armstrong said. “We’ve had three scrimmages while most teams have played a regular-season game or two; it’s been a good opportunity to lay down a foundation. We have the six seniors, but also a lot of youth. ”
Chad Totman is back to assist Armstrong for a 10th season, joined by new assistant Kevin Ayer. Both are former Cortland-Homer players, Totman a 2000 Homer Central graduate and Ayer a member of the Cortland High class of 1993.
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