December 27, 2008
Golden Eagles slip in first round
Canandaigua meets Frontier in final
The Canandaigua Academy hockey team overcame some adversity, and ultimately did the same to its hosts, Friday night in the opening round of the Cortland-Homer Holiday Tournament at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex.
The Braves downed the Golden Eagles 5-1 and were to meet Frontier — which had beaten Auburn 5-2 in the earlier first-round game — in today’s 2 p.m. championship contest. Cortland-Homer and Auburn will face off in the consolation game starting at 11:30 a.m.
It took Canandaigua sophomore forward Austin Wharry just 16 seconds to open the scoring Friday as he took a pass from teammate Kolby Erb, a senior forward, and found the net behind C-H senior goalie Brett Kash. Carl Zimmerman, a junior forward, equalized for Cortland-Homer with 3:32 left in the opening stanza, assisted by his senior forward brother Paul. Just less than two minutes later, Braves’ sophomore forward Mike Kablack was assessed a double minor and game misconduct for hitting from behind, meaning the hosts had a four-minute power play.
As the opening period ended, 2:13 of the Golden Eagles’ man advantage still remained, but they weren’t able to get off any shots in that stretch. C-H defenseman Corey Gibbons was whistled for tripping 4:17 into the middle period, and it took the visitors just 22 seconds to capitalize with what would prove to be the power-play game-winner. Junior forward Pat Dennis scored from close range on the left side off the rebound of a shot by senior forward Conrad Saxby, junior defenseman Cass Roberts also earning an assist.
“That was a big swing,” Golden Eagles coach Don Armstrong said, his team having fallen to 2-4-1 overall on the season. “Our power play looked pretty poor, but give some credit to them. They pressured us deep in our defensive end and gave our defensemen problems handling the puck and making decent breakout passes. We could never get any momentum going.
“We saw early on that the intensity wasn’t there. That’s one reason I called a timeout (right after Dennis scored), to get them to pick it up some,” he added. “Physically, they were a little the better of the two teams. They got the better of the physical play, and over the course of three periods that makes a difference.”
“I think Cortland-Homer was better in the first period and we were better late,” said Canandaigua coach Jim Armstrong, whose club, now 3-2-2 overall and the defending tournament champion, beat his older brother’s team for the third time in the four years it has made the trip east for the event. We hung in there and I thought we got better as the game went on. We knew that Cortland-Homer would apply lots of pressure, with hustle and forechecking, and also knew that they’ve had some trouble finishing scoring chances.
“What I said to the team between the first and second periods wasn’t too friendly. I told them that we’d come all this way, and that they’d better give their best effort. I feel for Don; I know they’re struggling.”
The winners took a 3-1 lead into the final 15 minutes after junior defenseman Keith Dueland scored with 4:04 left in the second. Junior forward Sam Post then scored twice in the third for the final margin, assisted by senior forward Kenny Ballard with 6:55 left and by senior defenseman Christian Phelps and Dueland with 3:34 remaining, to double his goal output for the season.
“They were both off good passes on two-on-ones,” Post said of his goals. “The first one I went glove side high, the second five-hole (between the legs). I thought we started out slow, had kind of a weak second period but came out pretty strong in the third.”
“Jim’s got some good players,” Don Armstrong said. “They play a disciplined style, are good at backchecking and the forwards come back to help the defense, which makes it tough to pick up rebounds and get scoring chances. Our kids didn’t quit; they kept their discipline, which I’m happy for. It was a disappointing loss, and now we play a Division I team (Auburn) in the consolation. I’m all for physical, tough games; they make us better over the long haul. They’ll continue to work to get better.”
“”We played Frontier hear last year and beat them by one goal (1-0 in the first round),” Jim Armstrong said. “I expect a one-goal (championship) game with them, maybe in overtime. That’s exactly what we need. I think it’s good to play back-to-back. We’ve only played seven games, compared to 11 or 12 for some of the other Section 5 teams.”
The winners had a 27-24 shot advantage in the game, getting 23 saves from senior goalie Brandon Graves while Kash stopped 22 shots.
Canandaigua beat Auburn 4-1 in last year’s title game after finishing third in each of the first two Cortland-Homer Holiday Classics it competed in. After losing to Utica Proctor 3-2 in overtime in the first round of the 2005 event, the Braves came back to claim the consolation 3-1 over their hosts. The next year, Canandaigua lost 4-3 to Cazenovia in a first-round shootout and then claimed third place with a 5-0 win over the Golden Eagles.
Frontier 5, Auburn 2: Auburn scored 45 seconds into the opening game but Frontier scored the next three and never looked back. Auburn closed to within a goal, 30-2, after two before the Falcons scored twice in the third, the last into an empty net, for the final margin. Junior forward Joshua Baker scored twice, while sophomore forward Matt Anticoli and senior forward Chris Gonser had a goal and an assist apiece. Senior forward Ryan Damstetter had the winners’ other goal. Forwards Connor Entemann (junior) and Reggie Townsend (senior) scored once each for Auburn, which fell to 1-8 despite a 34-26 shot advantage.
Frontier senior goalie Rob Bieber made 32 saves to 21 for Maroons junior netminder Steve Komanecky.
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