The Cortland-Homer hockey team closed out the Section 3 Division II regular season with a 6-0 shutout victory over Auburn Thursday night inside the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex.
The Senior Night win has significance as it guarantees the Golden Eagles a spot in the post-season playoffs. At 5-7 in the division and 7-12-1 overall, Cortland-Homer is now third in the division standings and could be anywhere from third to fifth after Clinton (4-5-2, 9-7-2) and New Hartford (3- 5-2, 9-7-1) finish their seasons. Oswego (4-7, 11-9) could tie the Golden Eagles, but Cortland-Homer holds the goal differential advantage in head-to-head matches. Auburn drops to 1-8-2 in the division and 5-10-4 overall as well as out of the playoff picture. Clinton and New Hartford are scheduled to play each other tonight in Clinton, weather provided.
Jed Brazo led the Golden Eagles with two goals and three assists Thursday night. Nick Gravel added two goals and one assist while Andrew Partigianoni had one goal and four assists for Cortland-Homer. Rowan Dankert scored one goal and Ben McGrath dished out one assist. Garrett Clark made 15 saves in the Cortland-Homer goal to earn the shutout.
“What an exciting last five games for us,” Golden Eagles coach Chad Totman said. “Winning four out of the five in losing that one game in overtime. It shows that some of our young guys are really figuring things out. Tonight being Senior Night, I was worried about letting our emotions get the best of us. It was great to see all our seniors play well tonight. Garrett had another great game in goal.”
It was a quiet start for Cortland-Homer as neither team scored in the first period. That all changed as the Golden Eagles lit the lamp three times in the second period. Gravel got things started at 4:40 with a tipin that eluded Auburn goalkeeper Aaron Kowal (26 saves). Brazo and Partigianoni assisted on the play. Just over a minute later, Brazo made it 2-0 at 5:53 off a Partigianoni assist. Partigianoni made it 3-0 with unassisted shorthanded goal at 11:28 of the second period.
“The third goal was a backbreaker for Auburn,” Totman said.”They were on the power play and Andrew found a stretch pass for a breakaway goal.”
Cortland-Homer finished the game strong with three goals in the third period. Brazo netted his second goal on a power play at the eight minute mark with McGrath and Partigianoni assisting. The Golden Eagles had a 5-on-3 advantage on that power play. At 9:51, Gravel netted his second goal of the game with Brazo and Partigianoni credited with the assists. The final goal came with four seconds left in the game on another power play opportunity. Dankert got a tip in off a shot by Brazo. Gravel also got an assist on the play.
Cortland-Homer will now wait for the rest of the regular season to play out before knowing where they finish in the standings, where they are seeded for sectionals and who that first post-season opponent will be.
“So now it depends on how New Hartford and Clinton do in their remaining games,” Totman said.