The 2018-19 season has left for some questions for the Ithaca Little Red Boy’s Hockey team as it sets with a 5-10-2 overall record, despite putting up solid performances throughout the season. Now, with two regular season games remaining, the Little Red has captured its coveted prize for a second straight year to help boost the team’s confidence entering the regional playoff game next month.
Rivalries can bring out the best in both teams participating in the matchup, despite what the record may show. This is exactly what happened when the Little Red matched up with nearby rival the Cortland-Homer Golden Eagles, last Tuesday, in the battle for the second annual Cortaca Cup. The Cortaca Cup, which came into being in 2018, was captured by the Little Red in the inaugural challenge.
The 2019 matchup looked as though the chance at victory heavily favored the Golden Eagles, who entered the matchup in a tie with Skaneateles for the top spot in Division II in last week’s New York State Sportswriters Association poll. For the Little Red, the team is no stranger to matching up with opponents that land on the poll. Ithaca has been tested time after time against ranked opponents, and while positive results have come at a minimum against ranked opponents, the team looked to reverse that trend against its rival.
Prior to the start of the game, the Little Red celebrated senior day and emotions seemed lighthearted before the opening puck drop. The atmosphere became bitter as both teams brought the physicality to the game. With the aggresive play turned to the highest level, a collision with the Golden Eagles’ netminder forced a substitution that the Little Red would look to take advantage of.
At the end of the hard-hitting three periods, the Little Red found itself even with the Golden Eagles at 3-3. Ithaca was powered by goals from defenseman Bryce Mitchell, a key part in Ithaca’s physical presence on the ice, Colin Blakeslee, who tallied his first career, varsity goal, and the captain, Michael Sornberger.
In the overtime period, the Little Red knew it had Cortland-Homer up against the ropes and looked to its playmakers to clinch the Cortaca Cup for the second straight year. The game would come to an end in the extra frame when the power forward Riley Pauldine netted the game-winner to knock off the Golden Eagles.
While goal scorers certainly deserve credit for the work in the offensive zone, the Little Red played a pair of goaltenders, seniors Billy Block and Jackson Oates. With both seniors being honored before the game, they wanted to ride the momentum of the pregame festivities as Block turned aside 32 Golden Eagle shots and Oates turned away 21 shots.
With just two games left in the regular season contest remaining, the Little Red hope to ride the thrilling win over the Golden Eagles to propel them to a strong finish before getting set for the regional playoff game. The Little Red will have home ice advantage for the regional matchup against the champion of Section VI. Also benefiting the Ithaca side will be, barring any injuries during the remainder of the regular season, a healthy lineup for the first time since the early days of 2018.
Ithaca will take on Monroe Woodbury on Friday and Queensbury on Saturday to finish out the regular season.
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