Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Huge Bounce-back Weekend for Cortland Roller Hockey!

To say that the past few weeks for Cortland roller hockey was an interesting one, would be a complete understatement! Just a few weeks ago, Cortland took a road trip down to Feasterville, Pennsylvania for their second tournament of the year without a very important piece of Cortland roller, Dan Nelson. Nelson's absence certainly didn't kill the teams confidence going into this tournament, however, it turned out to be one of the most unsuccessful weekends in Cortland roller history dropping all three games to Buffalo, St, Joseph's, and Baruch. Except for their efforts against St. Joe's that resulted in a heartbreaking overtime loss, the team's performance was poor to say the least. The three losses a few weeks ago was tough to overcome, but Cortland knew that the season was far from over and immediately focused their attention on the weekend of December 6th, where they were to face Drexel, Penn State, and rival Oswego.

Now this is where the story gets interesting. With a week before the teams last tournament, it came to our attention that the SUNY Cortland has a strict policy that no club teams can participate in games this upcoming weekend due finals preparation. In a frenzy, it looked as if Cortland would not be participating in their next tournament and was on the verge of forfeiting all three games which would very possibly kill the teams chances at Nationals in 2014. Within the next day or two, some might say its a miracle, Cortland roller hockey was back on the schedule for this weekend after the hard-work and dedication of Matt Scanlan, Chris Fidotta, and Tom Hughes. Throughout the frenzy to get the team playing this weekend, the schedule was changed a few times. The revised schedule had Cortland playing Oswego at 11 A.M on Saturday and Penn State on 6 P.M on Saturday for a two game, one day roller hockey weekend. The Drexel game will be played at a future date.

By Saturday at 11 A.M, Cortland roller hockey was in North Arlington, NJ, full team and all, and ready to go. With the first game against Cortland's rival, Oswego, it's safe to say that Cortland was licking their chops leading up to the game, and they proved the teams dominance in a 10-2 mauling of the Lakers. Chris Martelli started the scoring three minutes into the game, and never looked back from there. Dan Nelson added another in the first period, followed by Andrew DiCerbo's first goal of the season which turned out to be the game winning goal. In the second period, Oswego got on the scoreboard but was followed by seven unanswered Cortland goals including a natural hat trick from Tom Hughes, two from Chris Fidotta, Justin Carpenzano, and Chris Martelli who added his second goal of the game. Dish-master, Dan Nelson added 3 assists, two from defenseman Brendan Cummings, and an assist a piece from John Wagner, Fidotta, Hughes, and DiCerbo. Goalie, Matt Scanlan, continued his dominance in net saving 20 of 22 shots, making several beautiful saves, and a well-deserved third star. Tom Hughes earned himself first star with his 3 goals and 1 assist performance followed by Dan Nelson who tallied up 1 goal and 3 assists. It is noteworthy that Cortland's shooting percentage was a whopping 31%. Between the team's high powered offense, shutdown defense, and a brick wall in net, Cortland demonstrated what they are capable of and showed that they are here to play.

Cortland's next and last game of the weekend came against Penn State, a newcomer to the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey League. The Red Dragons knew Penn State would be more of a challenge and had to come into this next game with a different mindset than with Oswego. As they showed all year long, Cortland's box formation was once again shutdown perfect. However, Cortland found themselves on the opposite end of the scoreboard after one period when Penn State scored on a powerplay goal. Cortland wasn't nearly phased when they came out into the second period. Chris Fidotta having himself the best game of the 2013-2014 season threw up a natural hat trick in the second period along with a goal from freshman, Dan Nelson. Only one goal had an assist with it and without surprise it came on Chris Fidotta's goal from Dan Nelson. Penn State struck first in the third period to cut the lead of Cortland's down to 4-2, but Chris Fidotta wasn't done yet. On the penalty kill, Fidotta stole the puck and broke in to finish the job scoring his 4th goal of the game shorthanded. The game ended with Cortland on top winning it by a score of 5-3 and finishing the weekend 2-0. Nick Marrone proved how much he means to the team making 21 of 24 saves including key saves throughout the game to keep the game in Cortland's favor throughout most of the game. Chris Fidotta was the obvious first star with his outstanding 4 goal performance and Dan Nelson took third star with a goal and an assist.

Cortland's 2-0 weekend improves their record to 5-3-1 on the season putting them at 10th place of 16 teams. However, don't overlook the Red Dragons less than satisfactory start to the season. Cortland has a 5-1-0 record with superstar Dan Nelson in the lineup. He controls the game better than anyone in the league and his presence on Cortland's team is definitely worth noting. Chris Fidotta has also really stepped up from last year's team as he leads the team with 15 goals and leads the team with 20 points and serves as a huge offensive threat to all teams in league. Connor Dix is improving at a rapid pace adjusting from a primary ice hockey player to a strong roller hockey player who loves to grind in the corners and wins a lot of battles. Newly acquired Chris Martelli is tied for second on the team with 7 goals as well as Tom Hughes who has 7 goals and 6 assists. Justin Carpenzano is a solid body out on the rink that's hard to move in front of the net and has chipped in with 3 goals and 2 assists of his own. Cortland's defenseman may be quite possibly the best in the league and that includes goalies Matt Scanlan and Nick Marrone. As a team, Cortland has 27 goals against, the second fewest in the league. Lead by Dan Nelson, the defense power of Brendan Cummings, John Wagner, Brian Danziger, and Andrew DiCerbo has been unreal. There have been no more than 5 goals against in a game on Cortland the entire year, and it only happened once. You can find Brendan Cummings on the powerplay with his ripper of a shot and on the penalty kill with his natural defensive ability to block passes and shots. Danziger, DiCerbo, and Wagner may not have the most points on the team, but all serve as 3 impressive defenseman who know how to stop the opposing teams offense. Along with Cummings and Nelson, Danziger, Wagner, and DiCerbo show that they can block shots and have the ability to knock the other team off the puck and win puck battles in the corner on a nearly constant basis. Then you have Scanlan and Marrone in net that show that they are quite possibly the most dominant duo of goalies in the league. Both demonstrate that they can make some of the most biggest saves at the most opportune times. With the sport of roller hockey being an open game with a lot of high powered offense, the goals against averages of 2.17 for Matt Scanlan and 3.40 for Nick Marrone are incredibly good numbers. Together, the Cortland Red Dragons put this talent together and you have a team with the ability to be a Nationals contender, that can win a lot of games. Much of the team's success comes from the perfect execution of the box formation in the defensive zone that limits the opposing teams scoring chances to less than satisfactory chances.

Cortland goes into Christmas break with 9 games under their belt, the least amount of games played in the ECRHA. The team expects to do a lot of training over the break in preparation for the remaining tournaments including the first tournament of the second semester. Cortland will have a 5 game tournament including a game against rival Slippery Rock who is third in the country and Rutgers and Delaware who are both strong teams that both pose as Nationals contenders and threats to Cortland's possible Nationals bid that will occur later next semester. They will also face Drexel and Vermont that same weekend. Cortland will then travel to Dracut, MA for a four game event that will close out the regular season, followed by regionals in early March. Regionals will be pose as the biggest weekend for Cortland to make a run at a Nationals bid. The National tournament will take place April 9th - 14th in Aston, PA.

Despite a roller coaster first semester for Cortland roller hockey, the team looks to focus on the second part of the season in 2014 and as well as their eyes on a Nationals bid and more importantly, winning the coveted National Championship of the National Collegiate Roller Hockey League!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cortland Roller Hockey takes on Long Island - First tournament of the year (Old Bethpage 11/2 - 11/3)

And so, the first regular season tournament for Cortland Roller Hockey is officially in the books. After a disappointing preseason going 0-3 against St. Josephs, Drexel, and Binghamton, Cortland managed to start their regular season in a similar fashion in previous years by going 3-1 looking strong and confident. However, this isn't the regular Cortland team we've seen in previous years as they come into this year with only three returning players (Tom Hughes, Chris Fidotta, and Andrew DiCerbo) and a lot of new faces including freshman superstar, Dan Nelson, who has multiple NARCH championships under his belt, as well two new spectacular goalies, Nick Marrone and Matt Scanlan. Each goalie played two games (Marrone 1-1, Scanlan 2-0) and put up a groundbreaking 2.00 goals against average and only allowed 8 goals in four games!

The rest of the newest players included Brendan Cummings, John Wagner, Chris Martelli, Connor Dix, Justin Carpenzano, and Brian Danziger. Each one of these players proved what they had this weekend and gave a very impressive performance for a team with only three returning players. Chris Fidotta acted like a leader and played like a leader as he put up 6 goals in 4 games. The offseason took no toll on Tom Hughes' speed as he was flying around the rink bugging the opponents all weekend long with his sneaky style. Andrew DiCerbo, who scalped little playing time last year, came into this tournament expecting to be a leader and play like a leader, shocked the coaching staff as he put up a solid defensive effort, looking a lot more confident and focused.

Cortland's first game was up against the University of Massachusettes, an unranked, yet strong team. Cortland goalie was Matt Scanlan. The scoring didn't begin until the 2nd period when Junior and returning player Tom Hughes gave Cortland a 1-0 lead. Not too long after that UMass had tied the game on a powerplay goal. Cortland again answered about four minutes later with a goal from newcomer Chris Martelli and he didn't look back after that. Martelli tallied two more goals, including one on the powerplay, which ultimately turned out to be the game winner. UMass added one more in the third but with a few key saves from Matt Scanlan, the Cortland Red Dragons held on for the first win of the season 4-2. The 1st star of the game went to Chris Martelli and the 2nd star belonged to goaltender, Matt Scanlan who saved 21 of 23 shots.

Just a few hours later came Cortland's second and most anticipated game of the weekend against #11 ranked Farmingdale. Once again, no goals were put up in the first period, but freshman sensation, Dan Nelson, tallied his first goal as a Red Dragon just 33 seconds into the 2nd period. Farmingdale eventually put up their first goal of the game late in the 2nd to tie the game bringing a close, hard-fought game into the third. Once again, Cortland scored an early goal by Chris Fidotta, to give the Red Dragons a one goal lead. Farmingdale, refused to give up and continued their intensity and eventually tied the game with 6:23 left. Chris Fidotta wasted no time regaining the lead scoring a little over a minute later. The Red Dragons discipline play and solid defense held on to upset Farmingdale in a 3-2 nail-biter. Nick Marrone won his first game of the season in net as he made a some remarkable saves and stopping 22 of 24 to give him the first star of the game, followed by multi-goal scorer Chris Fidotta as the 2nd star, and Dan Nelson as the 3rd star.

The Red Dragons third game of the afternoon game against Baruch, a team new to Division II roller hockey as they moved up from Division III after a dominate-filled season. The Red Dragons were not phased. Cortland gave Baruch a not-so warm welcome to Division II as they romped them 8-1. It seemed like everyone on Cortland wanted to get on the scoresheet in this game. Cortland had five players who had a multi point game (Nelson, Hughes, Capenzano, Fidotta, DiCerbo). Matt Scanlan put forth another great outing saving 14 of 15 shots. Without surprise, Cortland took all three stars. Chris Fidotta took 1st star with 3 ginos, followed by Nelson, and Carpenzano. All around dominant performance from the Red Dragons ending the day going 3-0.

The Red Dragons final game of the weekend came in an early morning matchup on Sunday against Boston College lead by a wicked good goal tender, Mark Flitsch. Mark proved why he was one of the top goaltenders in the ECRHA by stopping 29 of Cortland's 30 shots. The lone goal was scored on the powerplay by Cortland's leading goal scorer, Chris Fidotta. Despite being outplayed by the Red Dragons, BC converted on both powerplays and tallied on one more to score three unaswered against the Cortland and hand the Red Dragons their first loss of the season. Cortland goaltender rightfully won 3rd star of the game as he made key saves to keep Cortland in the game, as did Mark Flitsch, who without surprise won 1st star of the game.

Despite losing the last game, Cortland left Long Island with their heads up high with a successful 3-1 weekend, a real confidence builder for an unranked team with a lot of new players. The Red Dragons certainly are not where they were at last year when they finished #5 in the country, but a long season awaits for a lot of improvement. Expect to see Cortland once again in the running for a spot in the National Championship.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cortland heads into playoffs a dragon down

Today Cortland will take the trip to Feasterville hoping to secure the schools first ever national bid. This Cortland team is one that relies on all of its players and one player whose efforts are crucial in Cortland's success that will miss regionals this weekend is defensive work horse Mike Weber. Mike Weber has been a top 2 defender for Cortland for 3 years shutting down the top scorers of the ECRHA on the regular. Cortland hopes that they will be able to step up and be successful anyway but Mike Weber's presence will most defiantly be missed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cortland Roller clinches conference with perfect weekend!

The Red Dragons took a trip down to Long Island to play the team’s final 3 games of the 2012-2013 regular season. The weekend started off for the Red Dragons against the BU terriers. Both teams came out in a very conservative matter feeling each other out until the 6:26 mark in the first period where BU scored on unfortunate bounce of the puck. Cortland tallied 2 power play goals within the next 3 minutes to end the first period up 2-1. Max Stern lit the lamp just 3 minutes into the 2nd period giving Cortland a 3-1 lead. BU scored 6 minutes later to make the game 3-2 headed into the 3rd and final period. The third period began and Cortland took the puck behind its own net to set up a breakout. However the BU defenders came out in a box formation applying almost no pressure on Cortland to move the puck. Cortland spent the rest of the period keeping the puck away from BU and would go on to win 3-2. Lou Vetri earned 3rd star of the game making 15 saves, CJ Gilcrist scored 2 goals and earned the 2nd star of the game, and Max Stern had 1 goal and 2 assists earning the first star of the game.
The second game of the season was the most important for the Red Dragons this weekend as they were given a chance to avenge their only loss of the year in a rematch vs. the Slippery Rock Pride. Things didn’t look that good for Cortland as they allowed a Slippery Rock goal less than a minute into the contest. Gilcrist sounded the horn for Cortland to get the party started followed by an amazing individual effort from Max Stern. Cortland settled down and controlled the puck ending the first period up 2-1.  The second period began with the same conservative tempo that was present in the first period until Slippery Rock scored 7 minutes in. Fortunately for Cortland an undisciplined Slippery Rock team took an unsportsmanlike penalty immediately following the goal. The Cortland power play went to work as graduate school sensation Bryan Feiler went top shelf where momma hides the cookies to make the game 3-2. The puck dropped and just 16 seconds later Gilcrist has his 2nd of the game on a beautiful bar down shot from a seemingly impossible angle. The second period ended 4-2. Slippery Rock was frustrated and it became clear in the 3rd period where they took 5 penalties to Cortland’s 2. Bryan Feiler put the icing on the cake as he made the game 5-2. Slippery Rock tacked on a third goal at the end of the game but the damage had been done. The Red Dragons had avenged their only loss of the season skating to a 5-3 lead and clinching the conference title!
Sunday morning the Red Dragons looked to complete what would be their first perfect weekend at the Division II level facing off against UMass Amherst at noon. Cortland got off to another slow start letting up a goal in the first minute, digging themselves a 1-0 hole early. Captain Krupa put the biscuit in the basket just 5 minutes later to tie the game up and the Red Dragons never looked back. Gilcrist and Hughes added goals to make it 3-1 at the end of the first period. Cortland let up another quick goal at the start of the game to make the score 3-2 but MVP finalist Max Stern notched 2 of his own to make it 5-2 and keep a feisty UMass team at bay. Stern completed the Hat Trick 4 minutes into the 3rd period to make put the game farther out of reach leading 6-3 with less than 8 minutes left in the game. UMass and Cortland exchanged goals to end the game which resulted in a 7-3 Red Dragon Win.
The Red Dragons had their first perfect weekend of the year and it seems like everything is coming together for this team that hasn’t lost a game since November 10th. They have a ton of horse power and have colossal momentum headed into the playoffs. They are getting contributions from all members of the team. Lou Vetri is playing the best hockey of his collegiate career, Cortland’s forwards are terrorizing defenders and goalies all over the league and Cortland’s Defensemen are also relentlessly blocking any shots and passes that the opposition throws towards Vetri. The team was mentioned in the NCRHA’s post of upward trending teams headed into regionals. The team will take the trip to Feasterville next weekend and hope to win the school’s first Division II regional title as well as secure a bid to the big dance this April in Fort Myers Florida!
Side notes: The refs in the Slippery Rock game said that Cortland was the most disciplined team in the league.
Cortland’s penalty kill went an almost perfect 5/6. The 3 man unit of Krupa Feiler and Gilcrist seem to have the puck more than the other team on the penalty kills.
Cortland has not lost since November 10th. This is a completely different team than it was in the first few weeks of the season and it shows they have gone from winning on individual talent alone to winning on a team effort.
Max Stern is a finalist for league MVP for the 2nd year in a row.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Coach named, Huskies tamed!

This past weekend the #5 nationally ranked red dragons made the trip to Feasterville, PA for what would be their biggest test of the year. The weekend started off in an all dragon match up as Cortland faced off against the Drexel Dragons. This was The Red Dragons first time together and it showed. Cortland won a slow paced game by a comfortable score of 6-2 and outshooting Drexel 24-21. Earning the 3rd star of the game was Captain Krupa with 2 assists, goaltender Lou Vetri made 19 saves and had an impressive .905 save percentage. And the first star of the game was Max Stern with 4 goals.
The next game however would be a much greater challenge as the #5 ranked Red Dragons faced off against #18 ranked Delaware. Before the game Cortland decided to change things up and hire Dennis Fidotta as the first coach in the history of Cortland Roller Hockey. The team thought it would be good to have somebody calling the shots as the team makes their playoff push and tries to obtain the school’s first national bid ever. Delaware got the scoring started just 2 minutes into the game and Cortland realized that they would have to pick their play up if they wanted to win. Bryan Feiler struck first for Cortland just 4 minutes left on the power play from Gilcrist and Krupa. After a penalty kill Feiler hit Fidotta out of the box for what seemed like a homerun breakaway pass until the Delaware goalie came out and poke checked Fidotta. Fortunately for the Red Dragons he poked the puck right to the stick of Bryan Feiler who tucked it away for his 2nd goal of the game giving the Red Dragons a 2-1 lead heading into the 2nd period. The second period saw both teams trading off goals which had the game 3-2 in the Red Dragons favor which made for a close and exciting game with only one period to play. Delaware came out of the intermission flying around the rink at times untouched. Vetri made several key saves for Cortland to keep them in the game but eventually Delaware scored which left the game tied at 3-3 with only 6 minutes left to play. Cortland called their timeout and re grouped never panicking or losing their cool. Just two minutes later Leading scoring Max Stern showed the league why he is the front runner for the ECRHA player of the year trophy scoring his 32nd goal of the year putting Cortland up by a score of 4-3. For the next 4 and a half minutes Cortland played a smart defensive game and with some help from Lou Vetri the Red Dragons held off a ferocious Delaware attack as Cj Gilcrist put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal which sealed the deal for Cortland.
Next up was the game that had been marked down on the calendar since the schedule was posted. The Red Dragons would get their shot at the #1 ranked team in the country, The Northeastern Huskies. The Huskies had dominated everyone that stood in their paths giving up only 16 goals through their first 12 games while scoring an almost unreal 105 goals of their own. Cortland decided that the best way to play the Huskies was to come out in a box formation. This is when all four players stand in the defensive zone and wait for a Huskie turnover which oftentimes results in an odd man rush for Cortland. The Red Dragons got an early Power play and Stern notched the first goal of the game on a pass from Fidotta. However the Huskies struck back just 15 seconds later to notch it up 1-1 and scored a minute later and just like that Cortland trailed 2-1. In the final few minutes of the first period there were some pretty creative calls by the refs which put Cortland down on a 4 on 2 penalty kill that was killed off majestically by Cj Gilcrist, Bryan Feiler and anchored by Lou Vetri after the first period Cortland got out only being down 2-1. Stern scored his 2nd goal of the game just 3 minutes into the 2nd period making the score 2-2. The Huskies however didn’t plan on losing the game and their #1 national ranking scored 2 quick goals which gave them a 4-2 lead headed into the third period.  The third period saw Cortland and Northeastern trade off 2 goals each leaving Cortland down 6-4 with only 3 minutes to play. However Cortland didn’t think for a second that they were out of the game and Stern slide his 4th of the game past the Northeastern goaltender with 1:39 left on the clock! With 54 seconds left in the game Stern drew another penalty setting up what would be a Cortland power play with less than a minute to go. Cortland send out its power play which included Stern, Gilcrist, Feiler, Fidotta and decide to pull their goalie to get captain Gary Krupa on the ice to create more traffic in front of the Northeastern net. With about 15 seconds left Stern threw the puck towards the Northeastern net and it popped out right to The Red Dragons Captain Gary Krupa who scored with 11 seconds left to tie the game for the Red Dragons! And just like that the Red Dragons had taken the Northeastern Huskies perfect season away from them. Even through some one sided officiating the Red Dragons tied the number one team in the country. The power play went 3/4 with their only failed attempt on a shortened power play due to a Cortland penalty and the Penalty kill went 6/7. Stern scored 4 goals and 2 assists as he showed the league why he is the player of the league scoring 3 more points than Robert Lerro of Northeastern who seems is the only person who may beat Stern in points. Cortland put in a great team effort and Vetri made 35 saves including about a dozen game saving stops in the end of the game. The team described this as “the best game Vetri had ever played in goal.” Everyone knew that the Red Dragons would be competitive but in this game they showed that they are here to make a run at a national championship.
Sunday morning Cortland was expected to face off against Rutgers. However their goalie didn’t make it to the rink and they had to forfeit. Cortland used this hour to have their first and most likely only practice of the year.
Side notes:
Cortland Roller has been a force all season but this weekend they looked like a team on a mission, Cortland has found its identity and has massive momentum moving forwards towards the playoffs.
Cortland has a 12-1-2 record which has them first in their conference 2nd in the league
 Hughes added an additional goal in the Delaware game that was never recorded.
#3 Ranked Slippery Rock lost to Delaware which means if Cortland wins their final 3 games they win their conference.
Mitch Croce and Mike Weber continue to lead the Cortland defense providing Grit and battling endlessly along the boards.
Hughes came in 2nd in the ECRHA’s fastest competition.
Dom Feiler went Bar down on Lou Vetri in Cortland’s end of practice shootout. ( Dom is only 5 years old and is Cortland’s superstar of the future.)
This team is on fire and will be a force to reckon with in the playoffs.