POTSDAM - A bitter memory spurred the Norwood-Norfolk Central hockey team to sweet redemption on Sunday in the Section 10 Division II final against longstanding rival St. Lawrence Central at Clarksons Cheel Arena.
They beat us by quite a bit in the championship game last year and that loss left a real bad taste in our mouths. Since day one of practice, weve used that as a motivating factor for this season, said coach Paul Durant after the Icemen outlasted the Larries 3-2 to claim their first sectional crown since the 1997-98 season.
The kids did everything we asked of them this season and they worked very hard to get back to this game. We had a great regular season and they deserved to be here today. I couldnt be any prouder of them, he added.
With the win, the Icemen completed a sweep of regular season and playoff honors and improved to 17-4 as they get set to make their first trip to the New York State Division II tournament in 15 years. They are slated to begin their quest for the schools first-ever state championship on Saturday when they travel to Webster to take on Section 5 champion Webster Schroeder.
Sundays win over the defending champion Larries, who reached the state semi-finals last winter, saw the Icemen strike for three goals in less than two minutes midway through the first period before the Larries battled back to make it a one-goal game in the opening minute of the third period.
We had a great start but St. Lawrence is our biggest rival for hockey. There was a lot more game left and we knew they werent just going to give us the championship, noted Durant, who guided N-N to the 1998 sectional crown in the first season of his first stint behind the bench.
They got that second goal to start the third period but our kids just hung in there. They didnt fold. They kept playing their game and did what they had to do to get the win, he added.
Junior Coby Munson opened the scoring 6:06 into the game when he converted on a centering pass from senior linemate Jeff Mott. Junior Zeb Brown then finished off a play set up by sophomore Shane Cryderman and fresehman Kaden Pickering at the 7:43 mark before junior Tristen Harvey completed the decisive scoring burst just 16 seconds later by knocking home the rebound of a shot by Munson. Mott picked up his second assist one what would hold up as the game-winner.
After weathering the first-period barrage, the Larries got on the board just 1:16 into the second when junior Kody Kocsis wristed home a pass from classmate Lukas Arquiett. Junior Joe DiMatteo also logged an assist on the only goal of the middle frame.
The second period ended with the Iceman being called for a penalty as time expired and the Larries made the most of the man advantage opportunity when junior Luke Peets wristed a centering pass from the right wing by Arquiett into the back of the net for a power play goal just 41 seconds into the third period. Kocsis also gained an assist one what stood as the final goal of the game.
After being thwarted on a late power play of their own, the Larries saw their hopes of defending their sectional title fade when they were called for a penalty for having too many men on the ice with 1:02 left.
We just didnt have very good puck management on offense or defense in that first period, SLC coach Mickey Locke said after his squad went 11-2 over its final 13 games to finish at 14-7-1 on the year. But our kids fought back to make it a game and were proud of that.
People think of Norwood-Norfolk as being just a good-skating team but they have good size and strength and they have good depth, Locke added. They should represent Section 10 very well at states.
Junior Brandon Richards posted 13 stops in the winning effort while Nate Burnett regrouped from the first-period scoring flurry by the Icemen to turn aside the 25 shots he faced the rest of the way and finished with 32 saves for the Larries.
We won the regular season and we didnt want this to slip through our fingers today, said Brown after his squad erased the disappointing memory of the lopsided loss to the Larries in last years final. We came out flying today. We got the lead but we knew it wasnt over.
We worked hard to get to this game and we didnt want to let it get away from us, he added. It feels pretty good right now.