St. Joe’s takes down rival Williamsville North
The Marauders (6-0-1) got on the board first, thanks to a power-play goal by forward Eric Paradowski – less than three minutes after the first puck dropped.
“We talked about it in the locker room. This is a big crowd, an emotional game,” said Marauders head coach Rich Crozier. “We needed to get on the board first. Coming into it, I think most people might have suggested that we were a little bit of a favorite, but I tried to downplay that all week with the guys. Again, you had a slight underdog, so if you can get on the board first, it would be tough to overcome.”
The Spartans (2-4) evened the score at the 5:40 mark of the first period, when forward Jared Cummins slipped a wrist shot through traffic and off a defender to beat Marauders goaltender Nicholas George, who finished with 23 saves. Less than three minutes later, Marauders forward Kyle Moslow scored the game-winner, beating Spartans goaltender Tyler Johnson to make it 2-1.
Coaches can preach that every regular-season game is of equal value, but in most instances, there is little they can do to downplay a big-time rivalry – especially during the holiday season. The two schools have been Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation powerhouses for the better part of the last decade. In fact, the Spartans were state champions in 2010.
“I’d love to tell you that it’s just one of 26 [games],” Crozier said. “In particular, this Williamsville North game, they always put it right before Christmas. And for us as a team, it’s the difference between having a merry Christmas and not.”
“Like coach said, it’s supposed to be one of 26, but this is an early Christmas present for all of us,” said senior forward Dimitrios Gogos, a team captain. “We’d like to say that we don’t circle this game as like the first big game of the year, but it’s definitely the one when the schedule comes out, we look at it and we say, ‘That’s the one we want.’”
Marauders defenseman Michael Iannello scored the game’s final goal, a shot from the point at the 12:16 mark in the third period.
“Well, every year is different,” said Spartans head coach Bob Rosen. “We have a young group of kids who battle hard. I thought they battled hard tonight. We have kids in roles right now that aren’t quite ready for those roles, but they will be by next year. Still, they are a great group to be around.”
Johnson, a freshman, made 24 saves for the Spartans.
Freelance sportswriter Charles Roberts covers the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation for MetroWNY.com. Reach him at ChRobert3@aol.com or twitter.com/cHartleyRoberts.