Weekly Feature



2016-12-07 / Sports

Hockey squad triumphs over Timon, 4-2

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter


Matthew Zaffran looks for an open teammate during the Red Devils’ 4-2 season-opening victory over Timon Sunday at the HarborCenter. 
Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Matthew Zaffran looks for an open teammate during the Red Devils’ 4-2 season-opening victory over Timon Sunday at the HarborCenter. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Clarence’s hockey team broke out of a back-and-forth rhythm against Timon midway through the second period of Sunday’s season opener at the HarborCenter to secure a 4-2 victory and kick off its 2016-17 campaign in style.

Junior forward David Cosentino scored Clarence’s first goal of the season five minutes into the first period and then knotted the game at 2-2 two minutes after Timon had taken a 2-1 lead in the second period. That set senior forward Cam Lock up to tally what would be the game winner in the last minute of the second period when he wheeled out of the corner and fired a wrist shot that found the top corner of Timon’s net.

Six-foot-four senior forward Brett Naylor then notched the only goal of the third period on a play in which he feigned going behind the net out of the corner, only to go to his forehand out front. Naylor, the team’s captain whom coach Rick Brooks called “a great three-sport athlete who is really hard to stop once he gets moving,” caught Timon’s goalie cheating a bit and, when he opened his feet, buried his chance.

“They had some good opportunities in the first period — beyond the power-play goal they scored a minute after we took the lead — but then only had maybe one or two in the third,” coach Rick Brooks said. “Timon was disciplined for sure, but it was a good game that was well played by both sides. [Junior] Justin [Helms] played well in goal for us — he really didn’t make any mistakes — and it was just all in all a pretty solid effort and a solid win to start the season.”

The win was just what the doctor ordered for the Red Devils, who have designs on vying for a league title despite losing 10 players — including all three goalies — off a squad that went 10-9-2-1 overall last winter. Brooks and his players know that no one is going to just roll over and concede victory — not in a division that includes last season’s state small-schools champion in Kenmore East — and, with just four league contests over the course of December, each one will be critical in order to keep pace early.

“We have to play at a Date tempo, while going 12/10

12/12 three or four lines 12/22 deep, that other teams 1/5/17 can’t keep up with,” 1/8

1/9 Brooks said. “We 1/14 don’t have a lot of 1/15 team size 21— going out 1/22 there and intimidating 1/26 folks along the boards 1/28

2/2 and in the corner is 2/4 not going to be our 2/9 bread and butter — 2/10

2/11 but we have the speed 1 to do a good job. 2 When we use our 3 speed, we’re generally 4 successful.” 5

Clarence, which 6 ended Lancaster’s 7 playoff run for the third consecutive year last winter, once again has 10 seniors on its roster this season, including two netminders. Leading the way among the Red Devils returning players will be Lock, Naylor and senior forward Nick Lunetta. Those three forwards will be eyed to lead the charge up front, with Lunetta having shown as a sophomore — when he was among the team leaders in scoring — that he’s certainly capable of such responsibility.

Seniors Richy Felber and Matt Zaffram, along with Cosentino and junior Noah Corry, will also be looked at to help keep the offense humming when their lines hit the ice. Zaffram is in his third year with the varsity team and, as is the case with Felber, is classified by Brooks as being “a pretty strong kid.”

Defensemen Ryan Kelly, Ben Langlotz and J.D. King are all looking to solidify the blue line in front of either Helms or sophomore Matthew Binkowski, both of whom showed they are capable of backstopping the Red Devils with solid performances during the preseason. The two netminders combined to allow no goals during a three-game scrimmage during Nov. 25’s Section VI Scrimmage Fest, which eased Brooks’ apprehension about having two varsity newcomers going into the season.

“All six of our defensemen actually played pretty well in our opener,” Brooks said. “Ben is on his third year with the team and should do a good job for us, and J.D. played well too. We’re looking for big things from him.

“I think in general this year, we have more parity on the roster,” Brooks continued. “Some years there’s one or two guys who are superstars, and while that may still happen for us this year I think everyone on the team can skate, can work hard and can be quick to the puck. As the season goes on and we do the right things, I’m confident we’ll see some leaders separate themselves from the pack.”

Clarence (1-0 overall) returns to action Saturday against Hamburg and then faces Hamburg on Monday to knock out all but one of its divisional contests for the month.

“All of these games are going to be important if we want to compete to win the division, but the kids are ready to go and compete after being on the ice as much as we have already this season,” Brooks said. “Everybody’s got to come and work together, work on focusing on our team speed and team attack. We can’t take any shifts off. If we can have four lines going and really pushing the pace, it can really make a difference in our favor. And taking advantage of our special teams opportunities when they come up — and staying out of the box too, for that matter — is going to be pretty crucial to any potential success we have.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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