The visiting Ithaca boys’ hockey team moved to a 3-1 lead after two periods and held on to beat host Cortland-Homer 3-2 Monday night in a non-league game at the J.M. McDonald center.
The Little Red (6-7) snapped the Golden Eagles’ seven-game winning streak, and in so doing claimed the initial Cortaca Cup Trophy, which the two teams will now play for annually.
“It was a high-energy game,” said C-H coach Chad Totman, whose squad came in ranked sixth in the state in Division II and fell to 11-3 with its first loss since Dec. 15. “I think they were more excited about the first Cortaca Cup game than we were. They don’t have sectionals to play for; our guys were excited too, but are more focused on sectionals and winning that.
“Once again, we gave up the first goal of the game, this one 45 seconds in on a tip-in as we got caught sleeping in front of the net. As I’ve been saying all year, we have to do a better job of picking players up in front of the net.”
Ithaca’s Xander DiNapoli got the first of his two goals on the night with the tip-in, the assists going to Michael Kealy and Dennis Kang. The hosts equalized with 5:47 left in the middle stanza, Trevor Jubran taking a lead pass from Jake Prunier, eluding two defenders and getting the puck to his brother Adam Jubran, who scored his seventh goal of the season from close range on the right side.
The Little Red took the lead for good with 2:55 left in the second. In scoring his team-high 11th of the season, Michael Sornberger took a pass from Kang, went in on two defenseman and took a shot that deflected off one of them past Golden Eagles goalie Brandon Ludwig. Bryce Mitchell also got an assist on the play.
Ithaca took a 3-1 lead on a strange play as DiNapoli notched his second goal of the game, unassisted, and fourth of the season. Believing a slashing penalty would be called on an Ithaca player behind the visitors’ net, some of C-H’s players hesitated a moment and the player in question flung the puck down the ice in disappointment. No penalty was called, however, and DiNapoli beat a Golden Eagle defenseman to the puck and scored on a wraparound.
Cortland-Homer pulled to within one goal with 4:43 left in the third with a power-play goal, Trevor Jubran scoring his team-high 14th goal of the season off assists from Adam Jubran and Jed Brazo. The hosts couldn’t get the equalizer, even with a sixth attacker in the final minute of the contest.
Ludwig made 11 saves in two periods before yielding to P.J. Shager, who stopped five shots in the third period. William Gephart made 20 saves for Ithaca and won praise from Totman, who noted his solid effort and noted that he robbed Jed Brazo twice with glove saves.
The Golden Eagles return to Section 3 Division II National Conference play Wednesday, visiting Whitesboro in a 7 p.m. start.