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!