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.
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.