Syracuse Mountain Hockey (Stars) 4 - Northwood Juniors 2
A lot of folks, since we are in Lake Placid, may think I am going to use Al Michael's famous line for this HUGE upset win. I'm not. This wasn't a miracle it was a hard earned win by a bunch of kids who have been underrated all season. That needs to end after today. The Cuse boys played a great game today and did the little things needed to win a hockey game. They blocked shots, won puck battles, scored on the PP, killed off a late penalty, scored an empty netter to seal it and rode the goaltending of Jared Levine to get a win that no one would of expected.
A ton of scouts in the building and some early nerves led to the Cuse putting themselves into a 2 goal hole 5 minutes into the game. I heard a Northwood player say to his bench "Yeah boys! Let's show em what a real junior team looks like!! All day boys! All day!!" And I thought to myself that we could compete with these guys we just need to settle down. And you know what? We did.
The next 10 minutes the game evened out. Then we got our chance as Northwood took a penalty. Our PP was on point and after 1:15 of constant pressure Danny Galvez found Jesse Farabee on the back door and he buried it. 2-1. Mateo Capriotti also had an assist on the play.
Soon there after Northwood took another penalty and this time it was Galvez who drove the front of the net and tucked one home to tie it at 2. Capriotti had another assist on the play. We had them a bit on their heels and Galvez stole the puck on a forecheck and set up Farabee in the high slot and he buried it blocker high to put us up 3-2. We had another PP off this play and just missed 2 good chances to go up 2 before the half.
In the 2nd half we implored the boys to hang in there for the 1st 5 minutes and they did. Tommy Nicholson, Sean Shepard, Jared Pignone, Tyler 0'Mara and Kyler Schilling had a ton of big blocks. Omar playing out of position on the back end was huge for us. Derek Grillone had some big clears. Levine made some big saves through traffic. We had to lean on all our guys with the injuries we have right now. Corey Raaflaub put the grit he always does into every shift and got robbed on a nice set up from Zerrahn with 6 minutes left. Shawn O'Neill made some plays. Cullen Moran, Zach Zerrahn. Everyone was contributing. Kyle Bird won some big draws and had a big block. Guys were throwing their bodies in front of shots. Awesome to watch for the coaches.
With 1:30 left Northwood pulled their goalie. Corey Raaflaub took a shot right in the stomach but he managed to get the puck up to Farabee who completed his hat trick with an empty netter with just over a minute left. Nice!!!!
It is so cool to see a whole bunch of our guys talking to a whole bunch of scouts after the game. These kids deserve it. So it was a huge win for a USPHL Empire team over a team that routinely competes with USPHL Premier and Elite teams in our league. So as Mr. Gallant says all the time "We want to keep players in this league." I will tell those teams at the Elite and the Premier level our Cuse Empire team has a whole bunch of players that are more then capable of playing for your teams next year! I would sure like to hear from a bunch of you. These kids plus the 4-5 guys we currently have injured in Gavin Gray, Zack Cornish, Brendan Albright, Peter Dziergas and Nick Sanborn can play and have a ton of potential.
This team is now in 1st place overall (% wise) at 24-3-0-1 in the Empire League. They are #1 in goals scored, #1 in goals against, #1 on the PP. We have 4 scorers in the top 12, 7 in the top 30 and and 8 scorers in the top 40 of the league. I believe we have 4 or 5 of the best D men in the league and our goaltenders are all better then 2.7 goals a game and over 91% in SP.
Overall I believe the team is now 39-14-3-1. Check out our teams full schedule at http://www.mountainhockey.net/#!schedule-and-results/c1x9v . They have played a great Midget 18U AAA/Prep Junior schedule competing in Detroit 2x, Boston 2x and Toronto and have been more then competitive in those games. They took down South Shore when 7 premier guys were dropped down to play against them. To start the season they held their own in the Summer Showcase vs 3 Premier teams. They got beat but they competed.
I am really proud of these kids. They have earned the chance to play at higher levels next year. I coached in the EJHL for 3 years and in the Empire for 6 now. I can unequivocally say that many of these players are ready to move up. I expect for them to continue to step it up as we are heading to Florida to play 3 straight games vs the Blades after the Northwood Showcase in Lake Placid. So hopefully the kids can play another strong game vs Ridley College tomorrow. I believe they will. Follow us on twitter at @mountainhockey and on Facebook. I hope I will be hearing from some teams at the higher levels as it is that time of year. A bunch of teams not in our league are talking to these players already.