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.