Weekly Feature



2018-02-07 / Sports

Hockey team falls in pair of one-goal games

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter

Clarence’s hockey team felt the absence of two of its top defensemen in more ways than one when it took on Orchard Park and Frontier last week, as the Red Devils came up just shy of victory in each outing to drop to 1-9-4 in Federation Division I action.

Clarence was also short a forward during its 3-2 loss to Orchard Park on Jan. 30, but coach Rick Brooks noted that not having the two “very important” defensemen in the lineup that day “made it pretty hard to move the puck up the ice and initiate the attack out of our zone.” The Red Devils actually got out to a quick start even without those players in the lineup, however, with Nicholas Messuro taking a pass from Noah Corry and putting it in the back of Orchard Park’s net just 54 seconds into the game at Riverworks.

The Red Devils, who finished the first two periods with an 18-6 advantage in shots, struggled to find the back of the net after that point, however, with the Quakers’ tally with just 17 seconds to play in the opening stanza – which followed their earlier goal just over two minutes after Clarence’s initial score – serving as a particularly tough blow to overcome. Orchard Park didn’t make things any easier when it scored for the third and final time about five minutes into the second stanza.

“For one reason or another, we just couldn’t finish our chances effectively for most of the first two periods, and that really seemed to bolster them,” Brooks said. “We did overall kind of play well for the most part – Isaac [Petrella] did a great job in net for us, but it’s tough to stop Orchard Park in general when we’re giving them opportunities to produce – but we just couldn’t finish around the net. That’s really been the story of our season.”

Clarence did produce a final goal on J.D. King’s tally off the rebound of his own shot just 2:30 into the third period, but it wasn’t enough, as the Red Devils could muster only a handful of shots down the stretch.

“We did come out and play well in the third period to make the game close, but we just couldn’t get the equalize r,” Brooks said.

Brooks was hopeful that the Red Devils would have a chance to put up some goals against Frontier Tuesday, since the Falcons had allowed a league-high 61 goals in 12 games heading into the contest. In the end, however, another tough third period prevented the Red Devils from prevailing after they had battled the Falcons to a 2-2 tie to close out the second period. Brady Carlson and Adam Zaffram had Clarence’s goals – which sandwiched a Frontier goal during a frantic 27-second long flurry of action in the final two minutes of the period – off passes from Corry and Isaiah Corry, and Nicholas Modeas and Chris Carle, respectively.

Frontier collected what would prove to be the game winner just 2:13 into the third period to spoil Clarence’s Senior Night game.

“They really came to play and did a great job against us,” Brooks said. “After the way the second period played out, I thought if we came out and did our job in the third period, that if we skated hard, we could make things happen. But, we didn’t have the legs we needed. We had some close calls in the last 13 minutes but we struggled to get some quality shots off.”

Clarence (2-10-4 overall) returned to action Monday against Canisius, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Red Devils complete league play this evening against Niagara Wheatfield, and then head to Central New York Friday and Saturday to once again take part in the Salmon River Tournament to close out their regular season.

“We’re one point ahead of Frontier at the moment for fifth place in the sectional seeding, so it’s pretty tight for us down the stretch,” Brooks said. “We’re still trying to find the best line combination or two that can click and make some goals happen. It’s not something we were hoping to do that this late in the season, but injuries are making that a bit of a necessity. We’ve just got to have people make the extra effort; the little things, when you’re one goal away from getting a tie or a win in a number of games, are just so incredibly crucial. Every minute and every shift, what you do when you’re on the ice makes a difference.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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