CATS DRIVE KNIGHTS WILD AGAIN-BEAT RFA 3-1 TO WIN D I HOCKEY TITLE
RFA fans react to Tyler Nicolaus goal that made it 3-2!
So here we go again…We’ve seen this movie before. Same two teams, RFA and West Genesse on the ice at the Aud in Utica skating for a Section 3 Division One title.
RFA fans might want to ask for their money back, as this one ended the same way the previous two did, with the Wildcats clawing their collective way to another, nail-biting, 3-2 win over a game bunch of Rome Free Academy Black Knights.
RFA’s Tyler Nicolaus lit the lamp at 12:24 of the third to draw the Romans within one at 3-2, as RFA tried to rally from a deep three goal hole.
Two late Rome penalties, in the last minute of play, doused the flames on an RFA comeback, as the Cats held on to claim yet another Section 3 title.
Last year West Genesee blanked RFA 1-0 in the 2011-12 title tilt. Two years ago the Cats nipped the Knights 2-1. RFA entered action looking for the school’s first Section III crown since 1991.
It was supposed to be different this time around. RFA, the state’s number one ranked team, entered action with a stellar 19-2-1 record and a regular season 4-3 win over the Cats. Not to mention a DI East title.
The Knights were bigger, stronger and faster with an offensive arsenal not matched by many teams.
Six Black Knights, Joey Rutkowski, JT Entelisano, Justin Hussey, Nick Mecca, Drew DeBlasiss, Keegan Richie and injured Knight Tyler Williams, all had racked up twenty points or more on the season.
It was supposed to be different because coach Greg Cuthbertson could take comfort in knowing that he had First Team All-League goalie, senior Andrew Ross minding the net.
Ross brought a stellar 1.74 goals against average with him out on the the big ice at the Aud.
Problem is, the Cats came east on a major roll, having gone 9-0-1 in their last ten games and West Genny had their infamous trapping, defensive style of play working once again.
Problem is, the Cats could answer with a pretty good netminder of their own in junior Henry Burns one of the best pipe-protectors around.
Burns plays to a 1.26 goals against average and has a save percentage of .930% to boot.
These two teams flat out don’t like each other. That was rather evident when the two sides were whistled for seven first period penalties. Four on the Knights and three on the Wildcats.
RFA afforded the Cats to skate with an extra man when John Gannon was whistled for interference with 1:18 to go in a fast moving first.
Just four seconds later the Cats cashed in off a faceoff in front of Andrew Ross when Robby Michel let a one-timer rip to put the blue and gold up 1-0 with 1:14 left in the opening fifteen minutes of play.
RFA outshot West Genny 4-3, but trailed where it mattered most. Joey Rutkowski and Justin Hussey both had quality chances to beat Henry Burns, but the big guy turned the snipers away.
Rutkowski came close for the right side of the faceoff circle with 5:50 left in the first, but Burns made a marvelous glove save.
Justin Hussey almost poked home a rare rebound off the stick of Burns and just missed two minutes later.
Mike Seifert almost banged home a short handed goal when he ended up in front of Burns with 3:57 left in the opening period.
Rome fans thought the gods were smiling on them as their Knights started the second period with an extra skater, as Matthew McDonald sat and watched from the sin bin as the second started.
Problem is, West Genesee’s Derek Farrell had other plans as he broke in, all by his lonesome, to beat a stunned Andrew Ross and make it 2-0 Cats.
Ryan McDonald picked up an assist on the game changing goal. Tough to come back from two down against the defensive minded Wildcats.
Time of the West Genesse tally was 13:45 of the second period as the Knights looked rattled after the short-handed goal.
Matters got much worse just about five minutes later, as Derek Farrell found his way home to beat Ross and really put the pressure on RFA, leading 3-0. Ryan McDonald earned his second helper of the game.
Time of the tally 8:19 of period two.
The Black Knights realizing their season was slipping away with every passing second of the Aud clock, dug deep and showed that RFA Black Knight pride.
Justin Hussey brought the huge Rome contingent to their feet, as he scored his ninth goal of the season to cut the lead to 3-1 with 10:41 left in regulation.
The lamplighter seemed to put some much needed energy into the Knights, who turned up the heat on Henry Burns time and time again.
Speaking of time.. with not much time left, Tyler Nicolaus banged one home off a faceoff in the West Genesee end to score and make it game on, as the Knights trailed by just one 3-2. Time of the goal 12:24 of the third.
Drew DeBlasiis earned an assist with a pretty shovel pass to Nicolaus, who pounced and scored.
The heat was turned up more than a notch or two as RFA looked for the game tying goal.
Any chance for the Knights to add an extra attacker was lost when the Romans were called for an interference penalty with 2:50 to go, then went two men down with two infractions, the last coming with 59.5 seconds left.
When the clock showed all zeroes, the Black Knights found out the hard way that the third time was not the charm, as West Genesee was once again crowned Section III Division I hockey Champs.
West Genesee 3 (16-5-2) Rome Free Academy 2 (19-3-1)
1 2 3 Total
West Genesee 1 2 0 3
RFA 0 0 2 2
Shots on goal: RFA 29 West Genesee 13