Posted by: Steven Besaw on Mon Feb 27th 2017 2:01pm
Hockey is a Brotherhood. Through it, you develop friendships that last a lifetime.
It starts as a little boy when mom and dad take you to the rink for the first time to skate. You are unsure of yourself. Maybe even a little scared at first. Then, you get the hang of it, and soon you are flying around the ice as fast as you can.
Then you are introduced to hockey. It becomes your first real love. It consumes you with a passion like nothing else. It introduces you to life-long friends. And you are all part of a Brotherhood.
As you grow up, you start watching the older boys play and you can't wait until you are old enough to do the same. You play mites and squirts, pee wees and bantams, all the while, you are watching the big boys play for the Bears. Some are older brothers, some are cousins and some are neighbors, but they are all your heroes. You wait outside the locker room on game nights to high-five them as they pass. You pray that one of them will get a new stick and give you his old one, the one he got the game-winning goal with. You watch as they wear the Bears jersey with pride and can't wait until you can do it yourself.
Then finally, the moment arrives when you get to don the Brown and Gold for the first time. You step on the ice for your first high school practice at "The Pav" and it seems different. You've skated here for years, but there is something a little different for some reason. You think about those that played before you and you realize how big the skates are that you are filling. The echoes of the exploits of Chris Wells, Greg Carvel, Sean Coakley and Sean and Kyle Flanagan fill the Pavilion to the rafters like a hockey version of Mount Everest. You look up and see the four NYS Championship banners and wonder what it would feel like to win one.
The high school season is long and arduous. It is filled with 'Funday Monday' practices, long bus trips, and games versus some of the best teams in New York and Vermont. It stretches out over four-and-a-half months, from early November to early March. If you are good enough to make it that far. If you are lucky enough to make it that far. If you work hard enough to make it that far.
And all the while, the heroes that you watched growing up, are now watching you. They have thrown you the torch. And their expectation is that you will hold it high. You feel the eyes as you you play. Scrutinizing your every move. Every pass. Every shot. Leading up to the ultimate test of competing for a championship.
And then suddenly it is here. You have made it to the blood round. It is time to put up or shut up. Go hard or go home. Put your name on the mantle next to those of the Brotherhood who have gone before you, or fall by the wayside and have to wait another year, thinking about what could have been. You have forty-five minutes to prove your mettle. It seems a little crazy that it has all come down to this. One chance to etch your name in the record books. One game. Forty-five minutes.
It's your time Bears.
The Brotherhood is waiting to welcome you home.
Bears Blank Potsdam In Playoff Opener
Posted by: Steven Besaw on Thu Feb 23rd 2017 5:55pm
The Canton Golden Bears entered Wednesday night's playoff game with the Potsdam Sandstoners, in front of a capacity crowd at the Canton Pavilion, with a little something to prove. Having squandered an early 2-0 lead to the Sandstoners in a 3-2 loss on Friday evening in Potsdam, a game which cost the Bears the #1 seed in the Section X Division I Tournament, the Bears wanted to show everybody that Friday evening was just an unfortunate hiccup. And they wasted no time in getting down to business.
After an early shot on goal by the Sandstoners was turned away by Bears goalie Jerod Burchell, Jake Mattice would eventually take the puck behind the net before head-manning the puck to Jack Finnerty skating up the right boards. Finnerty would then fire a wrist shot wide of Potsdam net-minder Cole Eakins from just inside the Sandstoner blue line. Isaac Thrasher, aggressively forechecking the Potsdam defenders, would win the battle for the puck and swing below the Potsdam goal line before sliding a pass to Finnerty waiting in the left slot. The sophomore scoring phenom wasted no time in snapping a wrist shot past Eakins before he could get set up, and the Bears would take the early 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game.
The remainder of the first period saw the Bears outshoot the Sandstoners 13-9 and dominate Potsdam down low in the offensive end of the ice. The Bears, despite having a few quality scoring chances the rest of the period, were unable to dent the Potsdam cage, while on the defensive end, the Bears played very good defense in limiting Potsdam to shots from well outside the prime scoring area for most of the period.
The second period would see Potsdam outshoot the Bears 11-10, but get nothing to show for their efforts. Meanwhile, the Bears would capitalize on some poor defensive coverage by Potsdam and a couple of nice bounces of the puck, which resulted in some opportune scoring chances.
Beginning the second period where they started the first, the Bears wasted no time in going up 2-0.
Off the opening face-off, the Bears would get the puck deep behind Potsdam's net, where Finnerty would jump the Potsdam defender and force the puck along the boards behind the net to Sam Martin. Martin would then slide a pass to the slot area where Isaac Thrasher was cruising like a shark waiting to pounce on a seal. And pounce he did. Scooping up Martin's pass as it slid by a Potsdam defender, Thrasher wasted no time in burying the biscuit, as he snapped a wrist shot past Eakins to make it 2-0. The goal, coming just 13 seconds into the second stanza, was just the start of what would be a tough period for the Sandstoners.
Near the end of the period, the two teams began to show some undisciplined play, as officials Ron Jacobs and Kevin O'Neil were busy sending a multitude of players to the sin bin. However, despite having a couple of man-advantage situations, the Sandstoners were unable to solve Burchell. On the other hand, the Bears used the helter-skelter action to pump in two more goals to go up 4-0 in the period.
First, Sam Martin would make it 3-0 off a face-off deep in the Potsdam zone to the left of Eakins. At the drop of the puck, Sam Martin would a scramble for the bouncing disk and snap a quick shot on Eakins that hit the goalies stick and then somehow rolled up and over his left shoulder, glanced off the inside of the post, and fell into the net. The goal, coming at the 10;29 mark of the period, and just 4 seconds into a power play for the Bears, was a killer for the Sandstoners.
The Bears would then score another goal off the stick of freshman Bobby Wells with just 1:42 left in the period. Wells, after serving slashing penalty, popped out of the penalty box just in time for Martin to see him and flip a clearing pass over the Potsdam defenders at the Canton blue line. Wells corralled the puck at center ice and skated in all alone on Eakins. Taking the puck from forehand to backhand and back to his forehand, Wells would calmly lift the puck into the upper corner of the net past a sprawling Eakins to essentially ice the game for the Bears.
The third period saw more undisciplined play by both teams and finished even in shots at nine apiece.
On the night, Burchell would stop all 29 shots he faced in garnering the shutout, while Eakins stopped 26 of 30 shots in the loss. Liam Hourihan also made 3 saves over the last 4:30 for Potsdam in relief of Eakins.
The Bears, now 11-8-1 on the season, move on to play the Massena Red Raiders in a re-match of last year's Division I Championship Game. The game is slated for Monday, February 27th at 5:30 pm at Clarkson University's Cheel Arena.
Bears Use Best Offensive Output Of The Season To Down Islanders
Posted by: Steven Besaw on Thu Feb 16th 2017 9:34am
In sports, a "Trap Game" is one in which a team has a tendency to look past its current opponent that they think will be an easy win, and focus on a bigger, tougher opponent on the horizon. With a game holding huge playoff implications awaiting the Bears on Friday, Wednesday night at the Canton Pavilion, the TI/ABay Islanders were the trap. And for a time, it looked like the trap might be sprung. However, behind their best offensive effort of the hockey season, the Bears poured seven goals by the Islanders goalie tandem of Trey Thomson and John Slate to walk away with a 7-4 victory on "Senior Night".
Prior to the game, the Bears honored three seniors who will all graduate in June, for their accomplishments and dedication as members of the Bears hockey progam. The Bears recognized videographer, Jonas Adams, forward and Co-Captain Matt Gollinger, and Defenseman and Co-Captain Jake Mattice. Gollinger and Mattice are both four-year varsity players for the Bears. Matt Gollinger plans to attend SUNY-Canton in the fall, while Jake Mattice will attend Elmira College.
The Bears also honored John Taillon prior to Wednesday's game. John has been a member of Canton's Rec Department for 30 years and will soon retire. A constant presence at the Pavilion for Bears games and practices, John's dedication and service to the Canton Rec Department and the Bears hockey program will be greatly missed. The Bears would like to offer John congratulations on a great career and wish him a happy and enjoyable retirement.
After the "Senior Night" festivities ended, the Bears would open the scoring near the mid-point of the first period. After taking a clearing pass near center ice, Jack Collins would spin away from an Islanders defender and slide a pass to John Mahoney in the neutral zone. Mahoney would then feed the puck to Jake Mattice skating up the right side of the ice. After stickhandling by a defender just inside the Islander blue line, Mattice would skate toward the net and fire a wrist shot past Islander starter Trey Thomson. The goal, coming with 18 seconds left in a man advantage situation for the Bears, would beat Thomson on the far side and give the Bears the 1-0 lead. Canton would then crank up the pressure, as they relentlessly attacked the Islander net by using a smothering forecheck to create turnover after turnover in the Islander zone. However, they were unable to dent the Islander crease and took the 1-0 lead to the dressing room.
The second period began with more of the same for the Bears. Using constant pressure generated off their forecheck, the Bears tried to stretch their lead on the Islanders. However, they were unable to score until the 6:29 mark of the period, while the Islanders enjoyed a power play situation of their own. Bobby Wells, who has done everything short of score the last few games netted a sparkling goal while helping to kill off the penalty. After a point shot by Islanders defenseman Hunter Barton was blocked by Cooper Waters, the puck would bounce into the slot area, where Jack Collins would corral the puck and head man it to Bobby Wells breaking out of the Bears zone. Taking the pass, and catching an Islander defender flat-footed at center ice, the speedy Wells took the puck wide, turned on the jets and went in alone on the Islander goaltender Thomson. Upon reaching the net, Wells quickly pulled the puck from his backhand to his forehand and snapped off a wrist shot, beating Thomson high to the stick side. It was Wells first goal since scoring in the season’s opening game and was a welcome relief to the hard-working freshman forward.
After a power play goal by the Islanders Riley Youngs cut the Bears lead to 2-1, Isaac Thrasher would make it a two-goal game again less than a minute later. Jack Finnerty would start the play by scooping up a clearing pass just inside the Bears blue line. Finnerty would then find Sam Martin skating through the neutral zone and slide a pass onto the tape of Martin, who then raced wide to the right by the Islander defenders creating a 2 on 1 with Thrasher who was steaming down the left side of the slot. Martin would force the lone Islander defenseman to turn to play him before sliding a perfect pass to Thrasher, who gathered the puck, crossed in front of Thomson, and flipped a backhand past the sprawling netminder.
The Bears would extend the lead to three goals with just under two minutes left in the period. Off a turnover at the Islander blue line, Wells would eventually send the puck around the boards and behind the Islanders net. Nick James scooped up the puck and slid a nice pass back to Wells as he attacked the net. Wells first shot hit Thomson squarely in the chest and bounced right back to Wells, who made no mistake on his second attempt, as he wristed the puck by Thomson to make it 4-1 in favor of the Bears.
Despite the obvious momentum in favor of the Bears, the Islanders would not sag, as they would score two goals in just over a minute to tighten the game back up at 4-3 heading into the third period.
One of the things that good teams do, is respond to pressure. After the second period ended, and the Islanders had seemingly climbed back into the game at 4-3, the Bears needed a spark to start the third period. After a goalie change by Islanders coach Chris Marshall, the period would start with John Slate in relief of Thomson. Unfortunately for the Islanders, the move would be a costly one, as Sam Martin would score on the first shot Slate would face.
Off an attempted dump-in to the Bears zone by the Islanders, Isaac Thrasher would intercept the puck and slide a pass to Martin, who skated the puck just inside the Islander blue line. Martin would use an Islander defenseman as a screen and snap a wrist shot past Slate just 13 seconds into the period.
Not slowing down a bit, the Bears would extend the lead even further just 25 seconds later. Jack Finnerty would take the puck into the corner to the left of Slate and slide a pass out to Thrasher in the slot. From there, Thrasher would attack the net and flip a backhand shot on Slate. The puck would bounce off Slate and up and over his shoulder and into the net to increase the lead to 6-3 in favor of the Bears.
The Islanders would bounce back with a goal of their own on the power play with 5:42 left in the game off the stick of Hunter Barton, but the Bears would then get an insurance marker from Sam Martin just over a minute later to make the final score 7-4 in favor of Canton. Assists on the Martin goal would go to Jack Finnerty and Jake Mattice.
On the night, Jerod Burchell would stop 25 of the 29 shots he faced in getting the win for the Bears, while Thomson and Slate would make a combined 30 saves for TI/ABay, with Slate taking the loss.
The Bears next travel to Potsdam on Friday night for the regular season finale for both clubs. With a win, the Bears will win their second consecutive Division I league title and earn the #1 seed in the playoffs, which carries with it a bye into the Section X Division I Championship game at Cheel Arena, on the campus of Clarkson University, on Monday, February 27th at 5:30 pm. The face-off for Friday night’s game in Potsdam is 7:45 pm.
Burchell Shuts Out Blue Devils As Finnerty Nets Hat Trick
Posted by: Steven Besaw on Mon Feb 13th 2017 12:05pm
Coming into Friday nights inter-divisional clash with the Ogdenburg Blue Devils at OFA's Golden Dome, the talk among the Bears and their fans was how they were going to handle the high-scoring trio of Jared Barr, Jackson Troiano and Isaac Testani. By the end of the night, the talk was how Jerod Burchell and the Bears defense shut down the triumvirate, while the Blue Devils were helpless to stop Jack Finnerty.
Barr, Troiano and Testani entered the game with 40 goals and 51 assists for 91 points on the season. Big numbers in comparison to the Bears entire team, which had put up just 34 goals and 50 assists for 84 points. However, the Bears were out to prove a point. The point being that the schedule they had faced was much more difficult than that of the Blue Devils, and they were a battle-hardened group because of it.
As has been the case for the Bears of late, good defense and timely goaltending would keep the Blue Devils at bay, and Jack Finnerty would continue a torrid scoring pace to secure the Bears win.
Near the end of a fairly evenly played first period that saw the Blue Devils open the game with three quality scoring chances in the opening minute of play, the Bears would get the only goal they would need while operating with a man advantage on the power play. After a face-off in the OFA zone to the right of Blue Devil netminder Jacob Ball, Finnerty would send the puck behind the OFA net to Antonio Vecchio, who skated out along the left boards and dropped a pass back to Sam Martin. Martin skated to the near hash mark along the boards and fed a pass to Isaac Thrasher at the point. Thrasher looked to shoot, and not seeing a shooting lane, slid the puck back to Martin, who immediately attacked the open slot area with the puck before sliding a smooth, cross-slot pass to Finnerty, who wristed a shot by Ball for his first goal of the night and the eventual game-winner at the 12:39 mark. The first period would end with the Bears up 1-0.
The second period would see the Bears display some undisciplined play that put them in the position of having to kill off multiple power play opportunities for OFA early in the period. Despite the Blue Devils peppering Burchell with 11 shots in the period, the Canton netminder and the Bears defense were able to turn away every Blue Devil scoring threat. Finally, with the teams skating five aside for what seemed like one of the few times in the period, Finnerty would show some great stick skills as he deftly deflected a point shot by Jake Mattice by Ball for his second of the night. The goal, coming at the 5:24 mark of the period, also netted Isaac Thrasher his second assist of the evening.
The Bears final goal, again coming off the stick of Finnerty, was the prettiest of the night, and perhaps the entire season. Off a face-off in the OFA end during a Bears power play, Sam Martin and Cooper Waters would play a game of catch with the puck along the right boards. Martin, taking a final pass from Waters at the hash mark, would slide a laser tape-to-tape pass across the slot to Finnerty, who snapped off a quick, top shelf wrister that popped the water bottle off the top of the net. The goal, his third of the game, gave Finnerty 10 goals in his last 8 games and was the sixth straight goal he had scored for the Bears.
The third period saw no scoring, despite the Bears throwing twelve shots at Ball, while displaying a stifling defense that held OFA to just two shots on goal.
On the night, Burchell would stop all 18 shots he faced in securing the shutout and despite the lack of offense by the Blue Devils, Burchell made some key saves early in the game and on the OFA power play to shut the door.
Ball, also stellar in net for OFA, turned away 31 of the 34 shots he faced in suffering the loss.
The Bears, now 7-2-0 in league play and 9-7-1 overall, hold their destiny in their hands in the fight for the #1 seed in Division I and a first-round bye in the playoffs. With games left at home on Wednesday night versus TI/ABay, and a game on Friday evening on the road against arch-rival Potsdam at pine Street Arena, two wins will secure a second straight league title and the first round bye.
Face-off for Wednesday's game with TI/ABay is at 7:30 pm at the Canton Pavilion, while the puck drops at 7:45 pm on Friday evening at Pine Street Arena in Potsdam.
Finnerty Goals And Burchell Saves, Lead Bears Past Shamrocks
Posted by: Steven Besaw on Thu Feb 09th 2017 11:43am
After posting a 2-0 shutout in a non-league game in Fort Covington just nine days ago, the Canton Golden Bears once again found themselves facing off with the Salmon River Shamrocks Wednesday night in the friendly confines of the Canton Pavilion. However, counting in the league standings, this game carried much more significance than the two teams previous clash, as playoff positioning hung in the balance.
Canton would open the scoring near the midpoint of period one, when a Salmon River 4 on 2 rush turned into a turnover at the Bears blueline off a nice poke-check by Bears defenseman, Jake Mattice. Sam Martin would corral the loose puck for Canton and slide a nice head-man pass to Jack Finnerty who was streaking through the right side of the neutral zone. Finnerty would take the pass from Martin, skate just inside the Shamrocks blueline and rip a slapshot past Salmon River netminder Jarrad Jackson for the 1-0 Bears lead.
Despite surrendering the lead, the Shamrocks would come at the Bears with a renewed effort and take charge of the play heading into the first intermission.
The Shamrocks came out of the first intermission firing on all cylinders, as they continued to attack the defensive zone of the Bears and befuddled any attempt of offense Canton tried to mount. Finally, the Shamrocks relentless assault on the Bears net turned to profit, as Tim Cook would light the lamp for the visitors off a rebound during a scrum in front of the Bears net. The assists on the goal would go to Cameron Cartier and Matt Harvey,
The score would remain tied through the end of the second period and well into the third period, despite both teams having chances to take the lead.
Finally, with just 3:45 left in regulation the Bears would get the go-ahead, and eventual game-winning-goal. And again, it would be Finnerty, who would ripple the twine for the Bears on his 13th goal of the season, as well as, his 5th game-winner. And, as has been the case for much of the season, Finnerty was set loose by Sam Martin. Knocking down a dump-in attempt by the Shamrocks at the Canton blueline, Martin would poke the puck past a Salmon River defender where Finnerty would scoop up the puck and take off up the ice. After taking the puck wide to the left of the Shamrock net to create space, Finnerty would rip a wrist shot over the shoulder of Jackson to give the Bears the 2-1 lead and the win.
Salmon River would pull Jackson during a timeout with a face-off deep in the Bears end, but Jerod Burchell and the Bears would ride out the storm and secure the 2-1 win.
On the evening, the Shamrocks would outshoot the Bears 31-26, with Canton's Burchell posting his third straight impressive outing, making 30 saves for the win and the Shamrocks Jackson making 24 saves in the loss.
The Bears (5-2-0, 8-7-1) next travel to Ogdensburg on Friday night to face the Blue Devils at Ogdensburg Free Academy's Golden Dome. The puck drops at 6:30 pm.