Weekly Feature

2018-01-24 / Sports

Hockey team tops OP for first league win

Clarence’s hockey team broke through for its Federation Division I victory Saturday, exploding for three third-period goals to take down Orchard Park at the Northtown Center by a 4-1 count.

Brady Carlson recorded what would prove to be the game-winning goal barely a minute into the third period when he banged in a pass from Isaiah Corry after Corry beat an Orchard Park defenseman to the loose puck and flung it into the high slot. Jack Vorreuter then picked up the insurance goal about halfway through the third period on an unassisted tally at the end of his shift. With his teammates heading to the bench to make changes, Vorreuter collected the puck out of the corner and had the necessary angle to deflect his shot in off Orchard Park’s goalie.

Nick Messuro closed out the scoring for Clarence a few minutes later when, after taking a pass from Justin Zeluwski, he was able to wait out the Quakers’ netminder to get the perfect shot after Orchard Park’s goalie committed to one side of the net.

“All too often this year, we’ve had a lead around the start of the third period and we haven’t been able to close out the deal, so to go into the third Saturday and find our legs, pick up the tempo and establish the necessary intensity to win was great to see,” coach Rick Brooks said. “These guys need to learn how to win and just do what it takes to be successful, so this was a great day for this group.”

Trevor Arno got Clarence on the scoreboard first, shooting off the draw right in front of Orchard Park’s net just one minute after the Quakers broke the scoreless tie with 4:18 to play in the second period.

“Our guys did not hang their heads and actually picked it up after they scored,” Brooks said. “Trevor just shot the puck without thinking when he tied it. He didn’t try to make a fancy play, but instead he caught their goalie on a little bit of a screen. It was a challenge for us to come out against a good team like them – they have a lot of kids in their program across al levels – and, like most nights, we were outshot each period. Matt Binkowski was the first star of the game for sure; he stood on his head, especially in the second period when they were all over us with lots of chances.

“We had the legs in the third period and we skated pretty well,” Brooks continued. “We played all four lines for the most part, and they played the night before so we were hoping to get a little jump on them.”

Clarence was hoping to do well against Orchard Park after coming up short against Timon on Thursday by an identical 4-1 margin. Timon jumped out to a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the contest and finished the game with a big advantage in shots on the day. Another score with the second period barely started pushed Timon’s lead to 2-0, but just five minutes later Zeluwski cut Timon’s lead in half when he banged home the rebound of J.D. King’s point shot.

The trend of Timon scoring in the early stages of each period continued in the third, as it collected the insurance tally just two minutes in to take a 3-1 lead. Timon closed out the scoring with three minutes to play in regulation as not even the Red Devils’ depth – Clarence utilized four lines to Timon’s two-and-a-half – could put a dent in Timon’s lead.

“It really wasn’t that close of a game, unfortunately,” Brooks said. “We had some chances but Timon played a very solid game. They played with discipline and played the body, and we quite honestly didn’t compete the way we should’ve against them. We just didn’t do a very good job early on, especially against the guys I told our team they needed to watch out for. I was hoping we’d find our feet in the third period, but our kids just couldn’t get in sync. Timon came to the game ready to work their tails off, and we just did not.”

Clarence (1-6-3 league, 2-7-3 overall) returns to action Thursday against Williamsville North and then closes out its week Sunday against St. Joe’s.

“North is one of the top teams in the state again and they’re undefeated to boot, so that’s our focus right now,” Brooks said. “I want to try and finally settle in on some lines that can create some offense – I have some ideas of who works well with each other – because we really need to get pucks in the net. We have confidence in our systems now, so we’ll keep working hard. We’ve got to keep playing the body too, because when we work hard at doing that, it’s been effective and makes a difference. It’s not going to be easy, so it’s a good thing we have two outstanding goalies. You can go a long way with good goaltending.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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