STATE RANKED #1 CNS #2 RFA SKATE TO 2-2 OVERTIME TIE
Photos Kevin Montano-MHTS
It was a clash of hockey powerhouses as, state ranked, #1 versus #2 faced off in front of a crowd of Rome Free Academy Black Knights faithful at the John F Kennedy Arena in Rome on Wednesday night.
The action was hard-hitting and fast from the onset, with RFA quickly sending the first shot on goal towards Cicero-North Syracuse goaltender Alex Johnston, testing him early.
The Northstars followed soon thereafter when senior Matt Fiume sent a shot towards the direction of Black Night goalie senior Andrew Ross.
Both teams played an aggressive style game, battling against the boards early and often.
The Northstars were able to strike first when they dumped the puck in the corner to the right of goaltender Andrew Ross and Danny Rush took a quick snap shot that snuck in between a small opening between the post and the goaltender and the Northstars had the early 1-0 lead at 11:15 of the first.
Ahead by a goal on the road, the Northstars continued to attack and bring the pressure and sent a flurry of shots towards Ross by way of senior Eric Hamilton and junior Jesse Farabee.
However, RFA would not go away that easily and made the best of a trip down the ice when junior Drew DeBlasiis found himself behind the goal and wrapped the puck around to the front of the goal finding a hole and tying the game up at 1-1 at the 7:54 mark. Assisted by Tyler Nicolaus and Joey Rutkowski.
Following the goal, Cicero-North Syracuse bounced right back when senior Matt Fiume had a scoring chance after a wrap around attempt from a teammate fell short and the puck skirted in front to a waiting Fiume who was unable to capitalize.
RFA responded with another chance of their own when senior Tyler Nicolaus unleashed a shot that went wide.
Then junior Joey Rutkowski followed with a blast in front of the crease that was saved by Johnston.
Another scoring opportunity came when Michael Siefert skated in towards the goaltender with one man to beat and managed to get by him only to be shut down by Johnston.
The Northstars found themselves shaking their heads in disbelief when a Rome defensemen over skated a puck that was scooped up by a waiting Luke Keyes who found himself alone with goaltender Andrew Ross who again made a remarkable save.
A barrage of activity was unleashed in front of Ross who again came up big after Chris Schneid and Danny Rush lingered in front of the net with the puck rolling beneath the keeper.
The first penalty of the contest came with 1:38 remaining in the first period when Nicholas Mecca was called for hooking, giving the Northstars their first power play opportunity.
Matt Fiume was the first to take a stab at goaltender Andrew Ross on the power play,but was sent away empty-handed.
The Black Knights looked to end the period by lighting the lamp when DeBlasiis moved in as the period winded down, but he too was denied.
RFA put itself in position to jump ahead when DeBlasiis raced down the ice and handled a puck behind the net, but was brought down by Kyler Schilling resulting in a penalty.
A series of shots followed on the RFA power play as Nicholas Mecca and Joey Rutkowski both had quality chances, but were turned away.
The Black Knights were finally able to secure goal number two when Michael Siefert scored after he stuck home a rebound shot from in close. Nicholas Mecca and Keegan Richie earned assists (5:15).
The fast paced second period came to a close with the fans on their feet and the home team up 2-1 after thirty minutes of play.
The third period was played just as physical and fast as the previous two periods, but it was the Northstars who put the shots on goal early and often.
The visitors cashed in and tied this one up on a power play goal at 14:09 of the third when Connor Doren raised his stick in celebration after beating Andrew Ross to make it 2-2 at the 12:51 mark.
Nick Schneid and Luke Keyes earned helpers on what would be the last goal of the game.
As the clock continued to wind down both teams found themselves with several chances to put the game away but both goalies would come up big time and time again.
RFA’s Nicholas Nardslico had one last solid scoring chance as the time wound down, but the game winning goal would never come as these two high school hockey powerhouses left fans of both teams wanting more.
The clock struck triple zero the Black Knights and Northstars had skated to a 2-2 tie.
Cicero-North Syracuse coach Kyle Bailey said of his team’s performance, “I was proud of our guys coming out in the third period with the intensity that we did and wanting to get back in the game. In the locker room after the game I told the kids that we came up a little short of our goal but I am most proud that we went into the third period trying to be aggressive.”
Asked what he thought about no longer being able to win the league title outright but rather share the title the coach said, “It’s always nice to have those accolades and that is what we were shooting for but we will learn from this and we will regroup over the next week and get ready for the playoffs.”
After catching up with RFA coach Greg Cuthbertson he acknowledged that, “We had two pretty good teams going at it tonight and this tie is not the worst thing for us given what we have gone through the last couple of days (referring to the season ending injury of Tyler Williams).
“We stress defense and their first line is pretty dangerous and we tried to shut them down and we did that tonight. Both teams have improved throughout the year since the last time we played. We had some big saves for us and that gave us a chance to win…you have to have good goaltending this time of year and we have a good one.”
Asked if he was pleased with his team’s performance this late in the season, Cuthbertson said, “We need some time for our defense to play together as we had to piece it together tonight, they will get better as we move forward. We will have our kids ready to play – if you have an off night you go home now.”
RFA 2 CNS 2 OT
1 2 3 OT Total
CNS 1 0 1 0 2
RFA 1 1 0 0 2