MAROONED….AUBURN SKATES PAST CLINTON-3-0
Clinton’s Austin Bouse (25) puts a lick on Auburn’s Mike Tarby (22) during 1st period play
Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo
The Auburn Maroons rolled into the Clinton Arena this evening and skated away with a 3-0 victory over the Clinton Warriors in a Section III, Division II Hockey game.
With the victory, Auburn improved to (7-3-1) in Division II, just two points behind first place Oswego and only point behind second place Skaneateles.
For the first period of this contest, the casual observer would not have known the difference between Auburn, who has battling for post season position all season, and Clinton, who is still searching for their first league victory.
The word “spirited” seems to be the word that best describes the first twenty minutes of this one, despite what either team had accomplished in the standings to date.
Clinton Head Coach John Hughes had nothing but praise for his very young Warriors Team, which dresses more freshman (8) than seniors (5) this year.
Following the first period of play, which saw Auburn steal a goal with 33.8 seconds remaining to take a 1-0 lead, Coach Hughes told My Hometown Sports – ESPN Radio 99.1 FM that he was proud of his team’s effort in the first twenty minutes of the game, considering the overall youth on his roster. “I think our kids did a good job in that first period, we played Auburn very evenly and we are right in this game at this point” Hughes said, before getting down to business with his team at the first intermission.
Auburn’s goal came on an unassisted tally by junior forward Nick Netti.
There is an old saying among hockey people about the how much space a goaltender takes up between the pipes, to wit: “There is no substitute for square inches.”
Clinton Warriors sophomore goaltender Joe Bonanza, who stands a lofty 6′ 2″, proved during the first period that the square inches theory holds true today.
Bonanza was terrific in the net for Clinton in the first stanza, stopping 10 of the 11 shots he faced, all of which were quality scoring opportunities.
Bonanza entered tonight’s game as the 5th highest rated goalie in Division II, carrying a .910 save percentage.
Auburn goalie Jeff Gardner, Section III’s third best net minder with a (6-4) overall record and a .933 save percentage, stopped all four Clinton shots he faced in the opening fifteen minutes, which by the way featured no penalties or power plays for either team.
The second period was a back and forth affair, but Auburn’s offensive pressure resulted in multiple scoring chances close to the Clinton net.
Clinton’s offense was unable to get the puck in past the stout Auburn defensive units, resulting in very long shots which Gardner stopped time and time again.
Clinton was the benefactor of two consecutive Auburn penalties in the second period, but the Warriors power play was unable to take advantage and the middle period came to an end with the score still 1-0 in favor of Auburn.
During the second intermission, Auburn head coach Mike Lowe complimented his goaltender’s efforts, especially during the penalty kills, telling MHTS – ESPN Radio 99.1 FM “we expect that from Jeff (Gardner) and so do the teams that play us, he is an excellent goaltender”.
Coach Lowe went to say that he and his team enjoy the trip to Clinton every season, adding “I love bringing the team here, this building has so much tradition and history it is always a treat to be here…win, lose or draw.”
The third period saw Clinton get a couple of excellent scoring chances early on, the best of which came with 14:30 remaining when Dan Barrett skated in on the Auburn goal with an open look.
Gardner was up to the task yet again, getting his blocker on the shot to deny Barrett what looked to be a sure goal.
Things went back and forth over the next several minutes of the period, before Netti found the net again, with 6:14 to go in the game, off a nifty pass from line mate Mike Gentile to make it 2-0 Auburn.
Gentile put this one away with a power play goal with 4:55 to go in the game to make it 3-0 Auburn, with assists going to Jake Orlando and Mike Foltz.
Joe Bonanza finished another solid game between the pipes for Clinton, stopping 22 of the 25 shots he faced on the evening.
Jeff Gardner stopped 19 shots for Auburn, to pick up his second shutout in as many starts, after beating New Hartford 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Clinton (0-8, 1-10-1) will look for their first league win of the season when the Warriors host division rival Cazenovia on Tuesday evening.
Auburn meanwhile, will try to keep their assault on the top spot in Division II when they entertain winless Fulton next Tuesday night.
Auburn 3 Clinton 0
1 2 3 Final
Auburn 1 0 2 3
Clinton 0 0 0 0