Weekly Feature

2018-02-07 / Sports

St. Joe’s hockey has 1-0-2 stretch

Sports Reporter

St. Joe’s hockey continued its unbeaten streak into a third week as the Marauders got two wins and a tie in a busy stretch.

Wednesday, they played to a 1-1 tie against Niagara Wheatfield. They outshot the Falcons, 25-14, but could not put in a winning goal late. Ethan Louisos had the lone goal for St. Joe’s, scored in the final two minutes of the second period. The assists came from David Matthew and Spencer Frome.

“We controlled the play, I feel like we weren’t rewarded for our efforts,” St. Joe’s coach Rich Crozier said. “We had three strong periods. We just failed to capitalize on our chances. We had a couple breakaways, a couple open nets. When you play a team like Niagara Wheatfield, who is ahead of us in the standings, you just have to bury your chances. That did not happen for us. It was a good lesson learned, we continue to learn great lessons that will really support us for the playoff push.”

The next day, the team took on Section V McQuaid, one of the top large school teams in New York. The Maruaders again controlled play, outshooting the opposition 35-21. After falling behind 1-0 late in the first, St. Joe’s tied things up on a Connor McKendry goal early in the third period by deflecting an Adam Glica shot. Kyle Schneider also had an assist on the goal. With 5:21 left in the game, Niko Pavicich scored on a two-on-one when Sam LaTorre slid the puck over. But McQuaid would tie things up with 14 seconds left after pulling their goalie. The game would end in a 2-2 tie, but there were some positives to be taken away.

“I loved our adjustment between the second and third period,” Crozier said. “We went hard to the net and found loose pucks. The second thing is I think these are great lessons for our team. There was a stretch there a few weeks ago where we didn’t win any games out of four. We went 0-3-1. We were dealing with some effort, intensity and passion issues. Those issues have rectified themselves. I have been thrilled with the effort in the Federation. But when we’re playing Niagara Wheatfield, a team that is higher in the state rankings, a solid effort just has to be a given. But you also need other things. We’ve been focusing on some execution stuff. It’s improving, we’re putting the puck in the net more. We’re just missing some loose pucks and rebounds. Those are going to make the difference. We just have to finish our chances.”

The team came back with an impressive 5-0 win over Frontier Saturday. The Marauders took the lead early after McKendry tipped a Ryan McGorry shot while Louisos picked up the other assist. Midway through the second, Schneider scored off a pass from McKendry. With 90 seconds left in the period, Jimmy Grable ripped a wrist shot to the top corner. Mitchell Flocare and goalie Danny Mikolajczak were awarded assists.

Five minutes into the third period, McKendry got his second off passes from Jayden Baldinelli and McGorry. Pavicich scored the final goal midway through the third, with an assist from LaTorre. The team kept its foot on the gas through the whole game, outshooting the Falcons 19-3 in the final period.

“We felt like we looked a little sluggish in the first and second,” Crozier said. “We made some adjustments and I challenged them to have a great third period. We played three games in four days, but we played a great third period. We outshot them 19-3, which is a great effort. We were tired, but I felt these guys did a good job of pushing through it. We don’t want to let Frontier back in the game. To limit them to three shots in that period and seven in the game is really good.”

The Marauders do not have the record they have had the past two seasons, which featured almost no losing. This year’s team has dealt with heartbreaking losses and prolonged shooting slumps.

However, Crozier thinks the struggles could help the team navigate the postseason, which will begin Feb. 19 when the team takes on Bishop Timon in the semifinal round of the Catholic Playoffs. The team has been especially strong in the department of preventing goals, which could bode well for playoff success.

“I would suggest given the challenges and unusual circumstances this team has dealt with, this team is better prepared for the playoffs than even those previous state championship teams,” Crozier said. “This team is not going to get caught from behind. We’re not going to be surprised by anyone. Thinking about the regular season and dealing with every scenario and being prepared is ideal. That team last year, we never had a game where we gave up a goal with 14 seconds left. We didn’t even have a lot of games where the other team pulled the goalie on us. Our takeaway from that game is that we will be better prepared next time. We outplayed the opposition in two games and got two ties. We have experience from a coaching perspective that is very valuable for our team.

“We have played 15 league games and have let in 18 goals. That’s the best defensive numbers in the entire league. I find it amusing that some people want to suggest that there’s something wrong with St. Joe’s. I mean, 18 goals in 15 games, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of coaches that take that stat. We have some things to work on and we have a couple weeks to get those things fixed. If people want to consider us an underdog, we’re happy to cherish that role.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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