December 29, 2007


Auburn, Canandaigua skate for title —

Golden Eagles shut down by Maroons in first round

Golden Eagles

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland-Homer Golden Eagle Carl Zimmerman (6) brings the puck down the ice past Auburn’s Matthew Festa in the first period of Friday’s tournament contest at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex. Auburn blanked the Golden Eagles 2-0.

Staff Writer

Goals were at a premium on the J.M. McDonald Complex ice Friday night during the first round of the Cortland-Homer Christmas Hockey Tournament.
Strong goaltending performances highlighted the night’s action. Unfortunately for the host Golden Eagles Auburn junior Tommy Trowell turned in one of them, stopping all 29 shots he faced as the Maroons beat coach Don Armstrong’s team 2-0 in the second game.
The opener saw Canandaigua, coached by Armstrong’s brother Jim, shade Frontier 1-0 despite racking up a 28-11 shot advantage.
“I know the kids are disappointed, but the coaching staff isn’t in terms of effort,” Don Armstrong said, his Golden Eagles 5-6 heading into this morning’s consolation contest against Frontier.
“You could see they were getting a little frustrated with not being able to score early in the third,” he added, a minor flare-up at that time sending two players from each team off for roughing. “But they responded well and finished out strong. They continued to channel their energies towards putting the puck in the net, and stayed with it until the end, with two or three chances in the last minute.
“Overall, the kids played well to create scoring chances. Sometimes you’re not going to convert those, and their goalie played a heck of a game. You can’t argue with a goose egg,” he added.
The Division I Maroons, who improved to 4-6-1 with the victory, got the only goal they would need early on by taking advantage of a 2-on-1 involving two sophomore forwards as Matt Festa scored from the right-wing circle off a cross-ice feed from Robert Gage.
The only other goal of the game came with 8:29 left in the middle period, as freshman defenseman Brad Murdoch scored from the top of the right-wing circle off a feed from senior forward Brendan Lewis. C-H junior goalie Brett Kash was sharp in his own right, stopping 17 shots on the night and helping keep the hosts within striking distance.
“Cortland-Homer stayed after us the whole game and created some nice scoring opportunities for themselves,” Auburn coach Mike Lowe said, his team set to take on Canandaigua in today’s 2 p.m. championship game. “Tommy made some good saves. There were a couple of times when he wasn’t so sharp on rebounds. But if he hadn’t made a couple of the saves he did, who knows how the game would have ended?”
One sequence in particular during which Trowell was sharp occurred with Cortland-Homer on a power play late in the opening stanza. He got a little help from the crossbar, which the Golden Eagles’ top scorer, senior center Steve Stowell, hit with a slap shot from the slot shortly after the power play began, and made three more saves in rapid succession to keep his team in the lead as time expired in the period.
“That was a big penalty kill,” said Trowell, who recorded his second shutout of the season. “We all did what we had to do. They had some good sequences, and to come out of the period with the lead was pretty big.
“I was a little rattled during warm-ups because our backup goalie missed the bus, so I knew I couldn’t get hurt,” added Trowell. “I had a little trouble with a couple of rebounds in the first period. Our defense did a good job of moving the puck up to the forwards, and this was a good team effort for us. We came in unbeaten, at 2-0-1, in our last three games, and so were pretty confident, but not cocky. We wanted to keep the streak going.”
“We’ve played a tough schedule earlyand have had some injuries, but are getting healthy again,” Lowe said, Shenendehowa, Albany CBA, Potsdam, Canton and Ithaca among those early foes. “Hopefully it will all help us play with confidence against our division in the second half of the season.”  
Armstrong had similar hopes for the Golden Eagles, noting: “There were a lot of good things to pull from this game. I think we’re continuing to improve, which is what we’re looking to do. As for Frontier, they played well against a good team in Canandaigua, and their goalie looked pretty good. We’ll have to be on our game offensively.”
Canandaigua 1, Frontier 0: Canandaigua junior forward Kolby Erb scored the only goal of the first game out of a scramble in front of the net at 8:51 of the second as the Braves, who were Division II state finalists last season, improved to 8-0 on the season.
Sophomore goalie Mitch Collum stopped 11 shots to earn the shutout, while Frontier net-minder Nick Tuttle, also a sophomore, made 27 saves as his team fell to 1-6.
“Their goalie was outstanding,” Jim Armstrong said in praise of Tuttle. “We don’t play good teams like that a lot; in our eight-team league, only two of the teams are strong. To play a tam that’s big and strong like that is something we need.
“We have 16 of our 24 players back from last season, but seven of the eight that we lost played big roles for us. We’re finding our way with new guys, and this was our third game against very good competition.”
“Nick played well, but we just didn’t have any jump to our step on offense,” Frontier coach Bob Klimowicz said. “We have to start working and playing as a team, and not as individuals. We didn’t do that for the first two periods tonight. We did in the third, but it turned into a penalty-fest, which took away any flow.
“Canandaigua is a hard-working team that puts pressure on you and they outworked us tonight, which shows in the shots,” he added, that advantage 28-11 for the Braves. “Give them credit. They played well in their defensive zone. I thought that Mark Smerka and Chris Burke were strong on defense for us.”