MASSENA - An unassisted goal by Anthony Cortese early in the third period held up as the game-winner but the 28-save performance by junior netminder Connor Paquin turned out to be the difference as the Massena Central hockey team outlasted Monroe Woodbury of Section 9 3-1 in the New York State Division I quarter-finals on Saturday at the Massena Arena.
Connor came up huge for us, said Massena coach Mike Trimboli. We had a solid first period but I think we started to get caught up in the moment again and we started to have some lapses against their breakout. Connor played his role great. He was a huge factor in the game tonight.
With the win, the Raiders improved to 15-6-1 and will now gear up to face Section 5 champion McQuaid of Rochester next Saturday at the Utica Aud starting at 5 p.m. McQuaid beat Section 3 champion West Genesee in triple overtime earlier in the day.
In their win over the Crusaders, who earned a bid to the state tournament as the lone Division I team in Section 9, the Raiders had opened the scoring when Tyler Young one-timed a pass from behind the right of the goal from Zach Robert with just 22 seconds left in the first period.
But the Crusaders didnt allowed the momentum of the late goal to carry over into the start of the second period where they used their outstanding team speed to produce a pair of breakaway chances in the opening two minutes. On the first, John Dunn was denied when Paquin made a sliding pad save to his right on the second, Dylan Stephanik was thwarted when Paquin extended his leg pad to the left.
Their goalie was the first star of the game, no doubt about it, noted Crusaders coach Paul Bacsardi.
This was a good, clean, hard-fought high school hockey game. We werent quite sure how wed match up but Im very proud of the way our kids played. We showed we belonged here. We did everything we needed to do except for the number one thing, we didnt put the puck in the net when we had our chances, he added.
The Crusaders outshot the Raiders 11-7 in what turned out to be a scoreless second period and they had another breakaway chance by Eric Tremblay stuffed by Paquin a minute and a-half into the third before Massena went ahead 2-0 at the 5:05 mark when Cortese stopped a clearing attempt inside the blueline along the right boards then ripped a rising shot toward goal that appeared to be redirected before it ended up into the top right corner of the net.
But the Crusaders made it a one-goal game again just over a minute later when Mark Tooma converted on pass from behind the net by Dunn. The Raiders were finally able to put the game out of reach with 1:09 remaining when Grayson Phillips wristed home a centering pass by Young from the left wing.
Both teams missed opportunities but once again, our kids showed a lot of heart and a lot of grit and they did what they had to do to win, noted Trimboli. It was great to be able to play at home. Our fans are great and we were happy to have them as our seventh player out there tonight.
Senior Dan Vobroucek made 16 of his 29 saves in the first period working the crease for the Crusaders.