A slow start and an opponent with a bit of extra motivation caught up with the Cortland-Homer hockey team Friday night in its home opener at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex.
Ranked second in the state in the first state Division II poll, the Golden Eagles saw visiting Auburn score the game’s first four goals — three in the first period — en route to a 5-3 win.
The Maroons are now 2-0 in Section 3’s Division II West Division and 5-1-1 overall, while C-H is 1-1 in league play and 4-2 overall.
“We definitely didn’t play as hard as we could have,” Golden Eagles coach Chad Totman said. “We came out a little off-pace and didn’t move our feet, which let them set up some things. In the second period we finally decided we could play with these guys and then controlled the game into the third, when a couple of penalties took away our momentum.
“I told the boys before the game that a ranking like that puts a bull’s-eye in your back, and that Auburn has the best and maybe the best two players in the league in Jake Morin and Johnny Malandruccolo.”
Malandruccolo had two goals and two assists and Morin two goals and an assist for the winners, the other goal scored by Jude Diffin. Trevor Jubran had two goals and an assist and his brother Adam Jubran notched the other goal for the hosts. Jed Brazo had two assists while his brother Jackson Brazo, Cooper Swartwout and Jake Prunier had one assist each.
Malandruccolo opened the scoring 11:38 in before Morin notched his two goals in the opening period, 5:14 in on a power play and with 2:45 left. Diffin scored 4:28 into the second before Trevor Jubran got the hosts on the board with 4:15 left in the period, assisted by Jed Brazo and Swartwout.
Malandruccolo scored his second goal of the game 22 seconds later and 1:15 after that the Golden Eagles’ Adam Jubran made it a 5-2 game off assists from his brother Trevor and Jed Brazo. Trevor Jubran closed out the scoring 4:52 into the third, assisted by Jackson Brazo and Jake Prunier.
Auburn goalie Jack Kalabanka made 18 saves to 12 for C-H’s Brandon Ludwig, whose teammates had a 21-17 shot advantage.
The Golden Eagles next see action Tuesday against CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt at the Onondaga Nation Arena starting at 7 p.m. “The time is past when we have a game and then a few days off,” Totman said. “We have to be ready, and hopefully have learned the lesson that you have to come and play every night.”