It started, Cortland-Homer coach Chad Totman said Saturday, after his team’s only loss so far this season, 6-5 at Oswego, back on Dec. 18.
“After the Oswego game, and a couple of others we should have played better in, the team decided that they needed to play more as a team and less as individuals,” Totman said. “The atmosphere is so much better now.”
The third-ranked Division II high school hockey team in the state has won all three of its games since its revelation, including a pair over the weekend to win its own 2018 Cortland-Homer Golden Eagles Holiday Tournament and improve to 7-1-2 overall. The hosts romped over Section 2’s Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa 9-3 Saturday to claim top honors in the event for the third year in a row.
C-H walloped Ontario Bay 13-2 Friday in a first-round tourney matchup on the heels of a 7-2 home win over Auburn on Dec. 21 for a 2.
The Golden Eagles got off to a fast start against BH/BS, scoring four first period goals and never looking back. “We saw them Friday (in the Spartans’ 3-2 first-round win over Cazenovia) and they push hard on the defensive points,” Totman said. “We have a lot of speed outside and teams struggle to handle it. We stretch teams out, and it makes more room for shots.”
That was the case Saturday, as Jake Prunier opened the scoring 2:07 into the game with a short-handed goal, the assists going to Trevor Jubran and goalie Brandon Ludwig. Adam Jubran scored the first of his two goals in the period 3:37 later, assisted by Jed Brazo. Trevor Jubran, Adam’s brother, made it 3-0 off helpers from Jake Prunier and Josh Cargen with 4:10 left, and Adam Jubran converted a pass from Nick Gravel 40.4 seconds before the buzzer ending the period for his second goal of the game.
“We were a bit short-handed today due to illness and injuries, but give Cortland- Homer credit,” Spartans coach Jim Buffoline said, his team now 6-3 on the season. “That’s the best team we’ve seen all year and their top two lines are the fastest we’ve seen. That was our big concern, their team speed. We’re missing a couple of our faster guys on defense and didn’t do a great job of nullifying their speed.
“After the first period we thought we’d played pretty well and needed to stay with it; three of their goals were on odd-man rushes. We thought that if we could get the first goal in the second period we’d have a chance, but they got another two-on-one.”
Prunier scored his second goal of the game for the hosts just 24 seconds into the second period off a pass from Trevor Jubran, who in turn had gotten a pass from Gravel. After the Spartans’ Miles Grubb broke up the shutout with 6:03 gone in the second, the Golden Eagles scored the next four goals.
The first two came on power plays. The visitors’ Jared DiFiore was assessed a five-minute boarding and game misconduct for a hit that left Cargen shaken up, and just under a minute later Trevor Jubran scored his second of the contest off assists from Dominic Tutino and Michael Jewett. A tripping call on the Spartans led to a goal by Cargen, from Prunier and Gravel, with 3:33 left in the middle stanza.
Jed Brazo then scored twice in just under two minutes, off Cargen and Jewett (short-handed into an empty net), respectively, to push the Golden Eagles’ advantage to 9-1. Grubb beat the buzzer, again fed by Sinclair, with seven seconds left in the second, and assisted on the game’s final goal, by his brother Owen, with 47.8 seconds left in the game after an uneventful third period.
Golden Eagles goalie Brandon Ludwig made 18 saves over the first two periods before Riley Delage stopped five shots in the third. BH/BS’s Zack Maddalone made 14 saves in two periods and Kyle Grace made two more in the third as the visitors ended up with a 26-25 shot advantage.
Trevor Jubran, the forward who scored four goals and had six assists for the champions in two games, was named tournament MVP and Ludwig made the all-tournament team, along with the Spartan forwards Connor Cecala and Jake Koszelak, goalie Logan Palmer from third-place Cazenovia and forward Caeden Goodnough from fourth-place Ontario Bay.
“It’s a good feeling to win our tournament three years in a row, but we’ve got to get back to work,” Trevor Jubran said. “We’ve got a big game against Shenendehowa next week (at home Saturday starting at 1 p.m.). It will all be a big boost for us when we get back into league play.”
Earlier on Saturday, Cazenovia beat Ontario Bay 8-1 in the consolation game as J.D. Speer led the way with three goals and an assist. Dom Paglia and Andrew Parkhurst had a one goal and two assists each for the Lakers (3-7), Gavin Winn, Josh Whaley and Kyle Bryun with one goal each and Palmer with 27 saves as each team took 28 shots.
Casey Wilson had the lone goal for the Storm (1-8), whose goalies, Collin Bennett and Zairrin O’Neil, made 15 and five saves, respectively.