Josh Cargen did it again.
The sophomore center scored twice for the Cortland-Homer hockey team Thursday night in a 6-0 win over Ontario Bay in the first round of the Cortland-Homer Golden Eagles Holiday Tournament. He was at it again Friday afternoon at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex, getting the tying and winning goals in what ended up a 4-2 championship game victory for the hosts over Rye Town/Harrison from Section 1.
As was the case after Thursday’s game Cargen, who had scored two goals on the season prior to the tournament and was named Tournament MVP, was quick to share the credit for his success.
“It couldn’t have happened if the whole team hadn’t been going hard,” he said. “That created opportunities, and I was able to go to the net.”
Every goal in the game was scored on a power play. The hosts were called for three four-minute majors in the contest and the Titans were able to capitalize on the first one to even the score in the first period. After Cargen scored unassisted on a wraparound to tie the game 2-2 with 4:18 gone in the third — 17 seconds into a man advantage for C-H — a boarding major on RT/H with 2:18 left gave the Golden Eagles a four-minute power play.
Sophomore defenseman Nick Gravel took a shot from the left-wing circle that Jubran tipped, Titans goalie Sam Smith with the stop before it dropped and trickled behind him with 32.1 seconds remaining for the decisive goal. With Smith pulled for a sixth attacker, junior center Mike Turck then closed out the scoring with 17.3 seconds left by hitting the stick of a Titans defender who cut in front of the net, deflecting the puck into the empty net for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
“We worked it low on the tying goal and (sophomore left wing) Trevor Jubran got a pass to me,” Cargen said. “I just went around the net, tried a wraparound (from the left side) that the goalie saved. The puck was loose as I fell, and I swiped at it with my stick and it went in. On the game-winner we were up high, Nick took a shot, I tipped it to the goalie and it got by him. With the major on them we had a power play the rest of the game so we could create opportunities, while they couldn’t as much.”
“Penalties wore us down,” C-H coach Chad Totman said, his team now 6-4 overall after its third win in a row and having won its own tournament for the second time in the last three years. “We weren’t able to get a lot of offense going; we had to kill penalties, especially majors.
“We had five majors in this tournament, and between the second and third periods today we talked about when and how to hit and about staying out of the box, specifically what to look for when engaging an opposing player. It comes down to being mentally focused.”
“It’s tough when a call like that changes the outcome of a game,” Titans coach Jason Head said of the decisive major after his team lost for just the second time in nine games this season. “I didn’t agree with it, but that doesn’t matter. It was a momentum changer.
“The tying goal started with a great save by Sammy (Smith, RT/H’s junior goalie), but the puck came loose and the player who took the shot was able to wiggle free. Sammy played the puck right on the game-winner; he had it but it slipped through.”
Golden Eagles junior left wing Jackson Brazo opened the scoring with a power-play tally 3:14 into the contest, putting home the rebound of a shot by sophomore right wing Jake Prunier for his fourth goal of the season. It came just over a minute after the visitors incurred the afternoon’s first penalty.
Rye Town/Harrison senior defender Chris Megdanis knotted the score 13 seconds after the first of C-H’s three majors was called, senior left wing Sam Adler and senior right wing Ike Murov with the assists.
The visitors took the lead in the second period 17 seconds before the midway point of the game. Adler deflected home a pass from the left corner by senior forward William Pizzutello from close range 27 seconds into a power play, Murov also getting an assist.
That was it for the Titans’ scoring on the night as Golden Eagles junior goalie Brandon Ludwig kept them at bay the rest of the way. He ended up making 35 saves on the afternoon to Smith’s 19, RT/H with a 37-23 shot advantage.
“Brandon played really well, which helped,” Totman said with a smile.
“Their goalie stood on his head,” Head said. “He’s very big and has a quick glove. He baits you to go to the glove side and flashes quickly. I’d have liked us to go to his blocker side more. But I’m happy with the way we played in this tournament, and we’d like to come back next year. We owe Cortland-Homer one.”
“We’ve got some momentum going,” Totman said, looking ahead to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. home game with a strong Rome Free Academy squad. “Rye Town/Harrison is good, and RFA will challenge us a little more. We have tough league games coming up, and these games will help prepare us for them.”
In addition to Cargen, the All-Tournament team consisted of Cortland-Homer’s Brazo, the Titans’ Adler and junior defenseman Kieran Storch, Cazenovia junior forward Chase Cross and Ontario Bay junior goalie Austin Bovee.
Cazenovia rolled past Ontario Bay 10-1 in the consolation game as Cross scored three goals and assisted on two others. Sophomore defenseman Dominic Paglia scored twice for the Lakers (2-7, with both wins over the Storm). Senior forward Nate Morgan added goal and four assists for the winners, who got a goal and an assist apiece from junior forwards R.J. Smith and Jacob Kumiega and one goal each from senior forward Geoff Christensen and freshman defender Andrew Parkhurst.
Senior goalie Cameron Dye made 10 saves to 36 for Bovee, as Ontario Bay (0-9) was outshot 46-11. Freshman forward Thomas Guarasce scored the Storm’s lone goal.