Weekly Feature

2017-12-06 / Sports

Hockey squad edged in opener


Ben Langlotz will be relied upon to use his three years of varsity experience to be the defensive anchor on the boys hockey team this season. 
File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Ben Langlotz will be relied upon to use his three years of varsity experience to be the defensive anchor on the boys hockey team this season. File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com After surrendering a goal within the first few minutes of Saturday’s road game against Hilton, Clarence’s hockey team settled down and gave the Cadets all they could handle. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, that effort failed to produce a goal, leaving them on the wrong side of a 1-0 decision in their regular season opener.

Clarence finished the game with 20 shots on net, but only had two of them in a first period where coach Rick Brooks said his squad was “a little out of synch” in part because fourth-year senior defenseman Ben Langlotz — a player Brooks noted Clarence will “rely on heavily” this season — was unable to take the ice due to an equipment issue. Junior Honorable Mention All-Federation all-star goalie Matt Binkowski did all he could to give his teammates a chance, but in the end the Red Devils just couldn’t find a way to solve the Cadets’ netminder.

“We just did not play well in that first period against Hilton,” Brooks said. “But, it was a good non-league game for us to get some experience playing on a smaller rink, and for our younger kids to get a feel of what the varsity game is like. I think what we saw against Hilton was that we could skate well, but we’re a smaller team this year, size wise, and we got worn down by their wingers along the boards because we were giving up 20 or 30 pounds.

“Matt was great for us in net last year and he was fantastic for us in the opener,” Brooks continued. “He’s got good size for a goalie. He was the best player on the ice for either team Saturday and he came up big a number of times.”

The Red Devils, who prepared for Saturday’s non-league opener with scrimmages against Canisius and Pittsford, lost eight players to graduation off a squad that went 12-8-1 overall last season, including some “key guys who were on the team for a long time and won’t be immediately replaceable,” Brooks said. Many of the 23 players on this year’s squad are juniors and sophomores, which puts the Red Devils in position to succeed both now and down the line “as long as we continue developing and getting stronger,” Brooks said.

Clarence does have some seniors on the squad this year, though, and will count on the likes of third-year senior forwards David Cosentino and Noah Corry, along with senior blue liners Chris Carle and Mike DiMaria to be leaders both in terms of production and in the examples they set for their younger teammates. Other returning players this season who are looking to take on more responsibility this time around include junior forwards Isaiah Corry and Nick Messuro, along with sophomore defenseman J.D. King.

“Noah is one of the guys we need to step up as a veteran on this team,” Brooks said. “Mike is a pretty smart and very coachable guy who is a good leader both in and out of the locker room. He’s the kind of player who you know will never do something that will cost us. Isaiah has decent size, and I just like the way he’s played in our practices and scrimmages this first month of the season, and Nick is a smart kid who scored some nice goals for us last year. J.D. grew a little bit since last year and we’ve already seen how that growth and strength gain could potentially help us out this year.”

Newcomers to the varsity team who are also looking to make an impact this year include juniors Trevor Arno (forward), Brady Carlson (forward), Lucas Mc- Dowell (defense) and Ryan Riedel (defense), along with sophomore Jack Vorreuter (forward). All but Vorreuter played at the JV level last season.

“Trevor might be the smallest guy on the team, but he might also be our fastest,” Brooks said. “He plays so much larger than he is — he doesn’t get intimidated — so once we get him in the right line combination he should absolutely make an impact for us. Brady has a nice reach, which helps him kill penalties well, and he just is a kid who gives you 100 percent every shift he’s out there. And Jack, he’s a smart kid; he knows how to be in the right place and do the right thing.”

Weather permitting, Clarence (0-1 overall) returns to action this evening by traveling to Hockey Outlet to face Niagara Wheatfield, and then closes out its week by facing Lancaster Thursday and Timon on Sunday. Finding ways to put the puck in the net will be one of the more crucial tasks on Clarence’s to-do list all season long, especially since Brooks concedes that “we’re not going to have any easy games this year where we can just show up and expect to win.”

“I’m a little worried about our size when it comes to playing a physical type game on smaller rinks, like could be the case Wednesday, so figuring out how to get ourselves going on those types of rinks is something we’re going to have to learn how to deal with,” Brooks said. “We’ve got to be mentally and emotionally prepared so we can come ready to play every game. We need to be more disciplined in our own end and not just throw the puck around willy nilly without thinking. We want to find ways to be in our opponents’ zone and put some sustained pressure on them so that we can get some quality shots off when we’re in position to this season.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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