December 29, 2009
Gibbons goal in OT nips Frontier, 3-2 —
Golden Eagles reach final
The Cortland-Homer hockey team won a battle of state-ranked teams Monday night to reach what lately has been unfamiliar territory in its own Holiday Tournament.
The Golden Eagles scored a 3-2 win over Frontier Central from Section 6 on a power-play goal by senior defenseman Correy Gibbons with 1:38 left in overtime at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex’s Suit-Kote Arena. Coach Don Armstrong’s club, now 7-1, came into the game ranked seventh in the state among Division II teams, while the visiting Falcons are ranked fourth in Division I and fell to 5-2 with the loss.
C-H thus made the finals of the tourney for the first time since 2004, and was to face Auburn — a 5-3 winner over Cazenovia in yesterday’s other first round contest — for the championship at 8 p.m. today.
Frontier and Cazenovia were to meet in today’s consolation contest at 5:30 p.m.
“We carried the play as far as shots, but could have let down,” Armstrong said, CHS-Homer with a 27-17 shot edge. “We’d score, and they’d come back and tie it up. But these kids don’t quit, and we never trailed against a strong team that admittedly was down a bit with injuries. We got scoring chances, and took advantage of one at the end. That’s how games are won and lost.”
The Golden Eagles had to kill off a penalty two minutes into the extra session, sophomore goalie Cory Broyles making two huge saves, off a point-blank shot from the right-wing side and again from a tangle of players in front, to keep things tied. C-H then was got a 5-on-3 advantage as Frontier was whistled for two penalties (for two many men and hitting from behind) in a 30-second span. It took 46 seconds after the second infraction was called for Gibbons to notch the game-winner from the top of the left-wing circle.
“I took the pass from Carl (Zimmerman) on the tape, shot it and hoped it went in,” Gibbons said of his game-winner. “A guy was screening (Frontier junior goalie Jonathan Hamilton) in front, so it was perfect. Once we got the five-on-three, we figured it was just a matter of time.
“We had the momentum after the first period, then got down a little when they tied it up twice. We picked it up a little when we killed off our overtime penalty, then were able to put it away. It feels great to beat such a good team; we just wanted it more, I guess.”
THE ELATION ON the hosts’ side was matched by disappointment and anger on the part of Frontier coach Bob Klimowicz and his squad.
“The refs blew the game,” he said afterwards. “We were called for being in the crease for what would have been the winning goal (with 2:20 left in regulation). We’re down three players due to injury — which is no excuse — and our kids played their hearts out, then had that goal disallowed.
“I also thought that the puck was offsides (outside the zone) at the end just before they scored, but they wouldn’t call it. On the too many men, we had two guys close to the bench with the play down in the opposite corner. It seemed that things that should have been called weren’t, but then they’d call cheap ones. On the positive side, we had some young kids step up and show us good things. I was very happy with that.”
Cortland-Homer got the only goal of the first period with just 19 seconds left, Carl Zimmerman scoring from deep in the left-wing circle off a pass from the slot by his brother Aaron, a sophomore forward. Sophomore right wing Tim Walsh had started the play by hitting Aaron Zimmerman with a pass from the right wing.
Frontier tied the game with 7:42 left in the middle stanza on a shot from the top of the right-wing circle by junior defenseman Chris Button that went between Broyles’ legs. Casie Garrison converted a pass from Gibbons 2:04 into the third, beating Hamilton with a hard shot from the left-wing circle on a power play to make it 2-1. The Falcons again knotted the score with eight minutes left in regulation as junior forward Louis Wagner batted the puck past Broyles from mid-air on a rebound, junior forward Ryan Petrick with the assist.
“If I was in his shoes I’d be frustrated with a disallowed goal, too,” Armstrong said of Klimowicz. “But the ref was right there on the call, and from my vantage point it was the right call. We beat a strong team, which I know was not at full strength, but we didn’t need to come from behind to win; we carried the play.
“Carl is one of our top players. He created a number of our good chances, and can fill any role. Cory allowed an admittedly weak goal, but put it aside, came back and played well, including those two great saves in overtime. Hopefully we’ll have something left from an emotional game like this when we take on Auburn.”
The Golden Eagles lost to Suffern 3-0 five years ago in their last finals appearance, and last won the championship in 2003 when they beat Ontario Bay 4-1 with the title at stake after a 7-3 win over Corcoran in the first round.
Auburn 5, Cazenovia 3: Auburn improved to 5-3 with its victory in Monday night’s first game, senior forward Matt Festa leading the way with two goals and two assists. Junior forward Justin Corcoran, senior defenseman J.T. Foltz and senior forward Bobby Gage scored once each for the winners. Sophomore forward Joe Nardella, freshman forward Brian Gara and junior forward Sean Cannizaro had a goal and an assist apiece for Cazenovia, now 4-2.
Maroons senior goalie Steve Komanecky made 23 saves to 11 for the Laker freshman Joey Vecciarelli, the winners outshot 26-16 in the contest.
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