December 29, 2006


Lone goal not enough for CHS-Homer

Suffern faces Cazenovia in title game


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Taylor Brown (15) of Cortland-Homer fires shot between the legs of Suffern’s Chris Wynne (17) in first period of Friday’s Holiday Tournament contest. Suffern skated to 4-1 victory.

Staff Writer

The holiday season is the time for homecomings and family reunions, and there were both at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex Friday night at the annual Cortland-Homer Holiday Hockey Tournament.
Suffern coach Rob Schell, whose team is the two-time defending champion of the event, is a former SUNY Cortland player, and his squad made the latest trip north even more enjoyable for him with a 4-1 win over the host Cortland-Homer in the second game of the night.
Cazenovia downed Canandaigua 4-3 in a sudden-death shootout in the opener, which means that C-H Golden Eagles coach Don Armstrong and his brother Jim, who coaches Canandaigua, were to be behind the benches for today’s 11:30 a.m. consolation contest. Suffern and Cazenovia were to clash for the championship at 2 p.m.
“I wish it wasn’t so, unless we were in the later game,” Don Armstrong said when the latest family get-together was brought up. “Jim and I are competitive, and we’ve gone against each other numerous times. In fact, we’re going to their tournament later this season (Jan. 19-20). We’ll both focus on developing our kids, and looking to build. They took a good team into overtime tonight.
“I hate to keep playing the same tune, but you aren’t going to win many games scoring one goal like we did. We need to work on scoring goals against quality opponents,” he added. “Suffern is a good team, with a solid defense and a good goaltender.”
C-H was also limited to a single tally in its last game, a 5-1 road loss to CNYSHL Division II West rival Skaneateles last Friday.
The Golden Eagles, now 5-4 overall, trailed just 2-1 at the end of the first period, but Mounties senior forward Nick Clark scored just 22 seconds into the middle period on the third in a series of consecutive point-blank shots on C-H goalie Brian Frankel to give his team some breathing room. Junior forward Zach Salt scored his second goal of the game with 3:33 left in the second to settle the issue.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” said Schell, his team now 7-3 on the season after having advanced to the state Division I semifinals last season. “We have four very good defensemen and a good goalie (junior Tom Natoli), who was honorable mention all-state last season. The lead going into the third played to our strength. We just wanted to buckle down defensively. Tom made a couple of huge saves at the end there; the game was kind of done, but it showed how good he is.”
The Golden Eagles, despite the three-goal deficit, turned it up a notch in the third. Having been out-shot 23-14 over the first two periods, they put 15 shots on Natoli in the third (to six for the Mounties) as each team wound up with 29 shots for the game. The Suffern net-minder first stonewalled C-H junior forward Steve Stowell with 2:15 left in the game, then shut the door twice on point-blank opportunities by sophomore forward Matt Porter, with 1:06 left and again just before the final buzzer.
Natoli ended up with 28 saves to 25 for Frankel.
“The kids did a good job of stepping it up,” Armstrong said. “We challenged them to respond that way despite being down by three goals. We would have liked to get a goal early (in the third), and maybe gone from there to make it a closer game. But the kids responded pretty well. We can pull a lot of positives out of this game. Going against a strong team like Suffern will help us, and some good will come out of this.”
Salt opened the scoring 2:41 into the contest, coming in on the right side and converting a pretty cross-ice pass from left wing Clark as the teams were playing four-on-four after penalties 46 seconds apart. Junior forward Matt Shore made it 2-0 with 7:51 left in the period from close range with a shot that trickled past Frankel and over the goal line.
Senior forward Taylor Brown put home a rebound with 7:23 left in the first for his seventh goal of the season, halving the Suffern advantage, with junior defensemen Andre Coen and Vic Marchetti picking up the assists. Then came the second, as the Mounties took over.
“Coming up here and doing well definitely helps us out, knowing that we can compete with teams from all over the state,” said Salt, who was a member of both of the previous championship teams. “Downstate isn’t known for its high school hockey. We like to come up here to play, and it’s in the middle of our season so we want to get back into things and get the season going again.”
Schell, who said that Suffern has been making the annual trek to Cortland for at least each of his nine seasons at the helm, noted the irony involved in the fact that his team has only won the event since it moved to the McDonald Center from SUNY Cortland’s Alumni Arena, which he called home ice during his college career.
“We liked playing (at Alumni Arena), but with the success we’ve had we enjoy playing here, too,” he said of the Golden Eagles’ current home. “Section I hockey is getting better, but we like to come up here and do well. We want to keep the (championship) streak going.”
Cazenovia 4, Canandaigua 3: In the first game, Cazenovia’s Brett Walter scored on the first shot of the second shootout round, and that proved to be the game-winner after Laker goalie Jordan Demo denied Canandaigua junior forward Lance Richards.
Braves’ junior forward Evan Roth had notched his second goal of the contest with just 1:49 left in regulation to tie it at 2-2. After a scoreless five-minute sudden-death overtime each team scored once in the first shootout round, in which five players from each squad went against the opposing goalie.
Ben Lewis from Caz and Canandaigua’s Matt George were successful in that portion of the proceedings. Senior forward Jeff Matzel and junior forward Aaron Race scored for the winners (now 6-5) in regulation. Canandaigua brought a 3-2-3 record into today’s consolation game.      
“I came in, put on a fake and went to the top left corner,” Walters, a senior forward, said of his game-winner. “Their goalie is big, and I noticed that once he went down on a shot, he stayed down.”
“We’re still kind of trying to find our lineup,” Cazenovia coach Jon Davignon said. “We’ve changed around a lot and it’s disrupted things a bit. One thing that has been consistent has been our goaltending.”
Goalie Demo made 30 saves to 21 for Canandaigua’s Brendan Ewing prior to the shootout.
“I was pretty confident when it got to the shootout. We have a little depth with our scoring, and had two or three more guys who were ready,” said Davignon.


AHL Crunch lose in shootout

SYRACUSE (AP) — Rob Schremp, Tyler Kennedy and Alexei Mikhnov all scored in a shootout to lift the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League Friday.
Syracuse goalie Tomas Popperle made 55 saves during the game, but could not stop the Penguins (23-6-2-2) first three shooters in the breakaway contest that decided the game.
Geoff Platt scored in the first period for Syracuse (9-20-1-2) and Mikhnov tied the score on a breakaway with five minutes left in the second period.
Joe Motzko put Syracuse back in the lead when Derrick Walser’s shot was stopped by goalie Andrew Penner, but the rebound went in the net off Motzko’s back.
The Penguins outplayed Syracuse in the third, putting 24 shots on Popperle.
Penner faced only one shot.
Schremp managed to score on Popperle in the third to the game at 2-2.
Rochester 5, Binghamton 3: In Rochester, Greg Jacina, Janis Sprukts and Stefan Meyer scored goals less than five minutes apart in the second period to lead the Rochester Americans past the Binghamton Senators.
Jacina scored short-handed off a set up by Meyer. Sprukts followed up by scoring on a power play , then Meyer beat goalie Kelly Guard to give Rochester a 4-1 lead.
The Senators pulled within 4-3 on goals by Arpad Mihaly and Charlie Cook in the third period, but Daniel Paille’s goal with less than two minutes to play cemented the win for Rochester.
Marek Zagrapan also scored for Rochester, which improved to 22-8-1-0, including 6-0 against Binghamton.
Serge Payer and Arpad Mihaly scored for the Senators, who fell to 10-20-1-2.