With a chance to wrap up first place in the Section 3 Division II National Conference, things were looking good for the Cortland-Homer hockey team Thursday night at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex.
The Golden Eagles, ranked fifth in the state in Division II this week, led 4-1 just under three minutes into the second period against sixth-ranked Skaneateles in a battle of Section 3 Division II conference leaders, a win clinching the DII National top spot for the hosts over second-place Auburn. The Lakers had other ideas, though, and stormed back to tie the game 4-4, where it remained through overtime.
C-H finished the regular season 10- 2-1 in league play and 15-4-1 overall, with Auburn at 9-2-1 in the league heading into its game at New Hartford tonight. The Maroons beat Cortland- Homer twice this season, so a win tonight would pull them even with C-H and the head-to-head tiebreaker would make them the league’s top seed for the upcoming sectionals.
Skaneateles, meanwhile, was denied a perfect DII American slate with the tie, finishing 12-0-1 in league play and 14-4-1 overall.
“It was an interesting game between first-place teams, us with a chance to clinch the title and them looking to stay perfect in the league,” Golden Eagles coach Chad Totman said. “It was the last regular-season game for both teams, and neither one was able to practice Wednesday because of the weather.
“You hate to say it, but the officials played more of a part in the game, for both teams, than they should have. Their coach (Mitch Major) commented on it, too, that they were so inconsistent with their calls. It got both teams riled up.”
The Lakers’ Charlie Major got the scoring started 5:11 into the game with the hosts short-handed due to a fourminute major. Still on the penalty kill, the Golden Eagles tied it 51 seconds later as Trevor Jubran scored unassisted. Jed Brazo’s 11th goal of the season, off an assist from Nick Gravel, gave C-H a 2-1 lead with 1:44 left in the first and Mike Turck scored his 14th of the season with one second left in the stanza, assisted by Jake Prunier and Jackson Brazo.
When Jubran scored his second goal of the game and team-high 23rd of the season 2:54 into the second, off Prunier and Turck, it looked like the rout might be on. Ryan Gick scored for the visitors just over two minutes later, though, to make it 4-2 after two periods. Major scored his second of the game with 8:48 left and Matt Leveroni made it 4-4, his power-play score coming with 5:10 left.
“When we got up 4-1 we stopped moving our feet and going wide,” Totman said. “When they tied the game it woke us back up. We had some good chances but couldn’t score; we’d had a good chance to go up 5-1 but shot wide of the net on a breakaway.”
The hosts got a breakaway late in the extra session as well, Totman noting that Prunier was hooked going in but that no call was made.
The Lakers had a 26-21 shot advantage in the game, C-H goalie Brandon Ludwig with 22 saves to 17 for the visitors’ Chris Falso.
The Golden Eagles can finish no lower than second in the DII National and will open sectionals at home this Thursday. Depending on how they finish and how the DII American shakes out, they will host either CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt, Oswego or Cazenovia, according to Totman.