This past weekend, Feb 28, 29 and March 1, the Center State Midget 18U team hosted the Snowbelt Annual Midget JAM B division at the SUNY Morrisville IcePlex for round robin play to determine a champion for their section of the division.
Visiting the Center State Stampede was the Salmon River Storm, Camillus 1 Wildcats, and the Rome Grizzlies; all teams competing to find a bracket champion for the weekend. Play started Friday evening and continued through the weekend leading to the Sunday morning Championship game.
Friday evening saw a heated, but some would say sloppy game against the Rome Grizzlies where Center State fought hard to keep the game in hand. After starting the game off with a beautiful unassisted goal by assistant captain Nilan Bileby #29 just 30 seconds into the game the team admittedly looked disjointed as the game went on. By early in the second period the game was tied at 2 thanks to a goal by #26 Kelly Cable and did not look promising until #21 Justin Goodhue potted a goal with just 41 seconds left in the game. In hindsight, the team admits that Justin won the game for the Stampede but it was the goalie #1 Nick Korosec who gave them a fighting chance by allowing only 2 goals on 33 shots.
Saturday morning at 8:00 AM the Stampede took to the ice again against the Camillus Wildcats; after watching past games tapes and review of the lines the coaches decided to make some changes to the game plan by changing lines. Scoring was started by team captain Cooper Mottl #18 just 2 minutes and 54 seconds into the period. Cooper moved the puck from behind the net out in front however it was received by a Camillus player; jumping in however was defenseman Shaylee Keiger #12 who smartly broke up the play resulting in a fumbling puck going to #8 Casey Roman who passed it back to Mottl who ultimately buried it through traffic. Camillus responded in the second period but with two more goals in the second by #26 Cable and #29 Bielby there was not catching the Stampede.
Heading into the afternoon game with Salmon River the championship had already been decided as Sunday morning Center State would be playing Salmon River, this game was a precursor to the action. Unfortunately, a first period goal to start the game from #21 Goodhue with an assist from the captain #18 Mottl was not enough to hold them in a 3-2 loss that evening. In a valiant effort to even up the score the third period did see a goal just 39 minutes into that period by #58 Nolan Dye with a assist from defenseman #7 Austin Furmanski. Late in the 1st period the Stampede lost their number one scorer Nilan Bielby due to a knee injury, the team was shaken mentally but fought back to keep it close.
Sunday morning the Stampede was up early and pacing the locker room looking for another shot at the Storm. Other than Saturday night’s loss, the Stampede also faced the Storm at their home ice in Pulaski, NY on December 14th where they went down 5-4 in a loss, history was not on their side. This said, the team knew if they could pull together and attack the game as a team, they had a chance as both games were close ones. Although playing at 75% it was announced that Bielby would take to the ice to try to help the team secure the championship.
After being down 2-0 on the Storm’s second goal scored just 7 minutes and 2 seconds into the first period it was time for a Stampede response! This came with just 3 minutes and 33 seconds left in the period when defenseman Louden Johnson #24 masterfully pulled a puck from the air with his right hand just inside the Storm’s zone dropping it to his stick, then driving to the other side of the ice and piercing a blistering shot over the goalies right hand blocker, nothing but net! From therer the bench was on fire; knowing that usually when Louden scores one there is two; and follow it did. Just over 8 and a half minutes later he unloaded at the blueline on a pass from Goodhue and Bielby making the score 2-3 as he responded to the Storms 3rd goal of the game 39 seconds earlier.
From there it seemed there was no stopping the Stampede. Just 55 seconds after Johnson’s goal #60 Aiden Keefe stepped up driving in a goal in front of the net from Wozniak to further turn the tide. For the remainder of the game the Stampede had the Storm on their heels as they saw two third period goals from Bielby (who left Saturday’s afternoon game in the first due to a knee injury) to secure the win. Credit is also due to the Stampede Goalie #1 Nick Korosec for keeping the score close all weekend (and season), and being the lynch pin all season for the Stampede as they worked to keep an overall 17-11-2 season record.
The final game marked a long weekend and season for the Stampede, 18U Midget house hockey is a challenging level, with travel teams, high school, and wrap teams most organizations can face a struggle to get players at this level and competing is a hit or miss item option from year to year. CSYHA would like to thank the players for their time commitment, the coaches for the effort and care they put into the players, and put out a huge thank you to the parents for the years of support in terms of time, effort, and financial support to their teams. Without the commitment to the players from families we would not have these teams at our organization.
Finally, although this team still has one last tournament to play in March 13-15 at the Rochester Rumble, CSYHA would like to let the community know that we are already working on plans for next season. CSYHA will be looking to field another Midget team next year and in the meantime will look to participate in one or more spring/summer tournaments to potentially draw players and get the team familiar with one another. Should you want any information on next year’s midget team please feel free to email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.