Monday, November 14, 2011

First Semester Play Ends; Cortland Continues to Dominate

The Cortland Red Dragons traveled to Pottstown, PA over the weekend to finish their first semester schedule. The most anticipated game of the weekend was Cortland's first game against the Oswego Lakers. The previous meeting between these two teams was a very physical game, tallying up 75 minutes of penalties combined. However, the Red Dragons would prevail in that meeting with an 8-5 victory.

This time around, penalties would also play a role in the game. While Cortland put up 6 PIM's, Oswego tallied 16. This was a deciding factor of the game. The first period started out with Cortland controlling the puck, Adam Gould scored his first goal as a Red Dragon just three minutes into the period. For the next six minutes, the two teams were trying to find the next spark to set up a scoring play. This came at the 9:28 mark when Gary Krupa fired a shot past Oswego's goaltender on a pass by Sean Glynn. With a 2-0 lead with 2:32 to play in the first period, Oswego was looking to set a tone going into the second. At the 10:13 mark, Laker Brian Gambardella found a hole in Cortland goalie Lou Vetri on a short wrist shot. Just over one minute later, a slapper by Krupa at the point was blocked by Oswego's Ryan Oliveri, who skated down on a breakaway and scored a shorthanded goal to knot the game up at two goals a piece at the end of the period.

Cortland started the second period on a carry-over power play in which they couldn't connect
on. However, another penalty by Oswego sent the Dragons on yet another power play. CJ Gilcrist found the back of the net on that man advantage to put Cortland back in the lead, 3-2. Once again, Oswego took a penalty and connected for their second shorthanded goal of the game to even up the game at three. On the same power play opportunity for Cortland, Gilcrist fired another shot past the Laker goalie to go up by a goal again. With the lead, the Dragons controlled the tone of the game for the rest of the game with crisp passes and cheeky moves around defenders. They registered four more even strength goals before the end of the stanza (Gilcrist, Krupa, Hughes, Stern). The six goal second period gave the Red Dragons 7-3 lead going into the third.

With the third period looming, Cortland anticipated a physical final period of play. With the play intensifying, Oswego took eight minutes of penalties, all on roughing calls. This opened the door for Cortland. Their power play dominated scoring three more power play goals in the period to shut down the Lakers. The Red Dragons rolled to an 11-3 win over their rival Laker foes in the first game of the weekend. The Cortland power play of Hughes, Fidotta, Gilcrist, and Stern shined in the game notching four out of the five power play goals.

With the win over Oswego behind them, Cortland prepared to face the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in their next match up. In the pre-season preview written by ECRHA's Jesse Creek, Lehigh noted "Lehigh has their first game against Cortland circled on their calendar. The consensus
amongst the team was that the games against them last year were not their best. Avenging those losses is fresh on the Mountain Hawks mind. Playing Cortland will also be interesting to see where they stand in the division, as they should be one of the stronger teams that have returned. In their eyes, Cortland is the team to beat in Division III in 2011-2012." Cortland took this statement to heart and was determined to prove to the Hawks why they should be considered the team to beat this year.

The Red Dragons wasted no time to make a statement as Max Stern scored just one minute into the contest on an assist by Mike Weber in his second game of the season after suffering from internal bruising. Later on in the first, Stern struck again, this time on the man advantage. This was all the scoring the Dragons could muster in the period as they fired off 13 shots. Cortland found their scoring power in the second as they netted five goals by five different players (Fidotta, Krupa, Farr, Weber, Stern). On the five goals, Sean Glynn and CJ Gilcrist each had three assists, while Krupa had two. Lehigh had one goal in the period on a shot that bounced off Jay Sartorius' leg. The period ended in favor of the Dragons 7-1. The third saw much of the same dominance by Cortland as they netted three even strength goals (Hughes, Krupa, Gilcrist) and one on a power play one timer goal as Glynn fired a pass across the rink to Farr who put it top shelf. Cortland won the game 11-2 and gave Lehigh reason to believe they were right about calling the Red Dragons the team to beat.

The third game of the day called Ramapo to the rink to try and give Cortland their first loss of the season. The Roadrunners still had the bad taste in their mouth from pre-season when Cortland won 13-0. This game saw much of the same dominance by the Dragons as they scored early and often. The first period of the game saw Cortland score five goals in the first eight minutes. Farr found the back of the net on the power play and Fidotta scored a goal on a four on two penalty kill. Other goal scorers of the period were Krupa, Gilcrist, and Fidotta all even strength goals. The second period was much more physical as the teams had a scuffle in front of goalie Vetri. Bob Motto and Mike Weber were given penalties as well as two Ramapo players. Cortland showed it power play asset once more as the only two goals in the period were scored on the man advantage by Farr and Gould. In the third period Ramapo scored
one goal just 48 seconds into the stanza. The remainder of the game was dictated by Cortland as they netted one more power play goal by Fidotta, two more short handed goals by Gilcrist and Hughes, and three even strength goals (Gilcrist [2], Gould). Cortland rolled away from Ramapo with a 13-2 win to end the day with a 3-o record.

A final game against Loyola for the weekend and the semester would set the tone for the winter away from the rink. The Red Dragons, short players due to commitments on campus, were with an eight man roster for the game. The first period was handled with ease by the Dragons as the notched five goals (Gilcrist [2], Hughes [2], Krupa) while only allowing one goal. Cortland came out sluggish in the second as the Greyhounds scored two quick goals to shrink their deficit to two goals. This was a call for Cortland to wake up. The Dragons were undoubtedly up to the task as they wouldn't allow another 'Hound goal for the remainder of the game. Their shots and puck movement picked up considerably as they netted 9 more goals to polish off a determined Loyola squad.

The Cortland Red Dragons finished the weekend with a 4-0 record, the first in the history of
the University. Cortland also finished the first semester undefeated with a 6-0 record. Dating back to pre-season, the squad is on an unbelievable 9 game winning streak. Just to put that in perspective, in Cortland's pervious three seasons they had a total of 10 regular season wins. The power that the Dragons added in the offseason has certainly made a huge difference in the play of the team. CJ Gilcrist now has 29 points to lead the league. Hughes (20), Krupa (19), and Stern (19) are trying to catch up to Gilcrist in points as they are the next closest in the league to him. Sean Glynn is having a career year as his move to defense has surprisingly increased his point total. Glynn already has 13 assists (tied with Gilcrist for first in the league), and with his one goal on the year he has already surpassed his highest point total of 11 in his freshman year. Cortland veteran goalie Lou Vetri is also having a career year. He is currently 4-0 with just 7 goals against in those four games. His goals against average of 1.75 is tops in the league along with his save percentage of 88.5. Players are seldom to find the back of the net against Verti. He is the backbone of the Cortland team and looks to carry them for the rest of the year.

Over the weekend, Cortland amassed a total of 49 goals and allowed only 9. Of the 49 goals the Red Dragons scored, 11 were on the power play. At the mid-way point of the season Max Stern and Tommy Farr are tied for the league lead in power play goals with 4 each. With 40 power play chances in the season, Cortland has capitalized 15 times for a 37.5% success rate. The Dragons also have stressed keeping their opponents shot totals low. This has shown through the first six games as they have only allowed 102 shots to reach their netminders. In stark contrast, Cortland has fired off 225 shots on goal good enough for a shooting percentage of 29.3%. A stat that recognizes Cortland's accurate shots past the opposing goalies.

Along with Vetri's superb play thus far, he is preparing to take over in the front office aspect of the club. As treasurer since the clubs inception, Lou has made numerous contributions to the club. He will take over as President of the team as Tommy Farr will be off campus next semester student teaching to finish his degree in physical education. Gary Krupa will take over Vetri's position of treasurer in the front office starting in the Spring semester.

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