CLINTON, NY – For the past year, Clinton (and, by extension, its historic arena) has been deemed Hockeyville by the National Hockey League.
On Tuesday night at Clinton Arena, the Cortland-Homer Golden Eagles and their star defenseman turned it into Cargenville for at least one night.
Senior Josh Cargen put home two power play goals and added an assist. Those two power play goals would prove to be the difference in Cortland-Homer’s 4-2 victory over the Clinton Warriors. Eighth grader Ben McGrath and junior Adam Jubran had the other goals for the Golden Eagles, who are undefeated in their first five games (4-0-1). Juniors Ethan Carr and Nolan Provost picked up a tally apiece for the Warriors, who fell to 2-2-1 to start the season.
“The team definitely came out pretty good tonight,” Cragen said. “They did outwork us tonight, but we got it done.”
“Our mentality is we don’t want to get outworked,” first-year Clinton head coach Mike Tesak said. “[Cortland-Homer] can make you make mistakes.”
However, The Warriors out-muscled the much smaller Eagle defense from the very first puck drop, grabbing the lion’s share of possession time and peppering goaltender Brandon Ludwig almost immediately. Unfortunately, that muscle got them in trouble just five minutes into the game, when sophomore Aiden Walter picked up a major penalty for contact to the head. Cargen and the rest of the Golden Eagles would take full advantage, keeping the puck in the Clinton end for most of the penalty. Then, late in their power play, the Golden Eagles managed to keep Clinton goaltender Josh Trask guessing until Cargen tapped it past him to grab the lead late in the period.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, the senior was not even done in that power play. Just 40 seconds later, Cargen bounced a pass from fellow defenseman Nick Gravel right past Trask to double their lead, a lead they would not relinquish. Those two goals would end a drought for Cargen, a drought-buster he credited to some new eauipment.
“I definitely stepped up tonight,” Cargen said. “I was going on a bit of a drought….I just got a new stick, and I was glad to break it in tonight.”
The Warriors would not say die, however, getting a bouncer of their own. This time, Carr was there to deflect the pass from senior Nick Frank to cut the lead in half. From there, the Warriors looked like the undefeated team, getting several opportunities just before the buzzer. Unfortunately, they were unable to tie it up, hanging on to a 2-1 deficit as they headed into the locker room.
The script finally flipped for the Golden Eagles early in the second period, as they were now the one getting the better share of opportunities. Cortland-Homer managed to rip off 13 shots in the period, while at the same time, smothering the odd-man rush for Clinton. That seemed to be the rule rather than the exception in the second period, and it finally paid off for them about halfway into the period. A big rebound off the pads of Trask landed right in front of McGrath, who shot it into the back of the net to seemingly put the game out of reach yet again.
“I thought it was a pretty good game for the most part,” Cortland-Homer head coach Chad Totman said. “We certainly need to battle in front of the net harder, but it got better in the second period.”
That 3-1 lead would hold up as the teams went into the locker room, but Clinton came roaring back in a rough-and-tumble third period. It started just five minutes into the period, when Cargen would be sent off for kneeing. The Warriors would be the one to take advantage this time, though, when Provost slammed a puck off of Ludwig’s pad, which then bounced up and sneaked under the crossbar to give the Warriors new life.
“I thought our team was in a position to tie it there,” Tesak said. “We stood toe-to-toe with them and made them earn it.”
After the goal, what ensued was more reminiscent of a professional hockey game in the 70’s than a high school game in 2018: lots of rough play and penalties. In all, six penalties were called in the final frame, two of which wiped out previous power plays and five that were called after the ten-minute mark of the period. When the dust finally settled, neither team was able to take control on the man advantage, but the Golden Eagles finally put the game away. Jubran was able to uncork a huge slap shot off a pass from his brother Trevor, giving Trask no chance to save it. That would prove to be all the Golden Eagles would need, despite a late rush by the Warriors, to go back to Cortland with the win.
“When we got that fourth goal, they just had no momentum after that,” Cargen said. “We were getting dumb penalties, just breaking down mentally. Clinton really wanted the win, they just got more and more aggressive in the third period.”
“Our boys did a good job on the penalty kill,” Tesak said. “It’s something we pride ourselves on, working our way out of trouble. The way we got that second goal speaks volumes for how hard we work. I look forward to moving forward. I know our hearts are in the right place.”
Cortland-Homer Golden Eagles 4, Clinton Warriors 2
Eagles 2 1 1 4
Warriors 1 0 1 2
Shots on Goal: Cortland-Homer 32, Clinton 24
Saves: Josh Trask (C) 28, Brandon Ludwig (C-H) 22.
CH – Josh Cargen PPG (Jake Prunier, Jed Brazo), 6:08
CH – Cargen PPG (Nick Gravel), 5:29
C – Ethan Carr (Nick Frank), 3:51
C – Nolan Provost (high sticking), 14:57
CH – Adam Jubran (cross checking), 12:30
C – Aiden Walter (major – contact to the head), 9:50
C – Killian Kulpa (roughing), 1:23
CH – Ben McGrath (Andrew Partigianoni, Cargen), 9:29
CH – A. Jubran (Trevor Jubran, Dominick Tutino), 1:37
CH – Cargen (kneeing), 12:00
CH – Cargen (hooking), 9:55
C – Provost (holding), 9:30
CH – Prunier (tripping), 8:40
C – Luke Bouse (roughing), 6:00
CH – Tanner Douglass (hooking), 4:59