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High school hockey: Massena skates into state championship game

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UTICA — By taking care of business against top-ranked Fairport on Saturday, the Massena hockey team created more work for itself at the state Division I championship.

“Now we regroup and get ready for tomorrow. We have one more step to take,” said coach Mike Trimboli after the Section 10 champion Raiders gained a 2-1 overtime decision against the Section 5 champions in the semifinals at the Utica Auditorium.

Massena improved to 18-5-1 and take on Section 4 champion Ithaca at 12:30 p.m. today in the Division I final. Ithaca advanced by outlasting Section 1 champion Scarsdale 6-4 in the other semifinal round game earlier in the day. The Division I championship features two programs that share the lead for most state Division I titles with five apiece. Massena won its last title in 2008, the year after Ithaca last skated away from the Utica Aud with top honors.

“Someone is going to take over the lead for most Division I championships and they are going to tie Salmon River for state tournament wins with six,” Trimboli said. “We videotaped Ithaca’s game today. We’re going to go back to the hotel tonight and watch it to see what we can pick out and come up with a game plan against them.”

Massena advanced to the final thanks to a slapshot from Devin Page and a rebound goal from senior Tyler Young with 3:40 left in the overtime period.

Page, a junior defenseman, got control of the puck near the Massena blueline and rushed up the right wing until reaching the Fairport blueline. He then sliced toward the middle of the rink and quickly wristed a shot on net that handcuffed sophomore goalie Ethan Kaiser. Kaiser made the initial save but was unable to handle the rebound. The puck bounced to Kaiser’s right and Young was there to fire the puck in net.

“It was the end of a shift and I was tired,” Page said. “I was thinking of just dumping the puck in deep to get a line change but I saw (Young) skating into the zone with me and I had an opening to take a shot. The coaches always say that when we’re in that position, to try to shoot the puck against the grain and that’s what I tried to do.”

Said Young: “I saw Devin take the shot and I just wanted to skate toward the net. The rebound popped right up and it was right there. That’s definitely the biggest goal I’ve ever scored.”

Senior Connor Paquin made 15 of his 19 saves through the first two periods but made his biggest stop late in the third. A defensive zone turnover created a close range chance for senior Nicholas Musshafen but Paquin calmly slid to his right to block the one-timer from the middle of the slot with his chest to keep the game knotted a 1-1.

“This was a total team effort and Connor really played his part well,” Trimboli said. “Whenever we had a slip-up in our defensive zone coverage, he was there to make the save and I don’t think any of his saves were bigger than the one he made late in the game.”

Massena got off to a slow start and found itself trailing 1-0 after sophomore defenseman Cameron Gebhardt stepped into a pass from the left wing by senior Quinn Weidemer and fired a slap shot into the top right corner of the net for a shorthanded goal at the 10:58 mark of the first period.

Massena regrouped to tie the game when some strong forechecking by freshman Wyatt Wilmshurst behind the Fairport net created a turnover. He worked the puck back to sophomore linemate Jordan Robert on the right wing. Robert was able to control the puck away from a Fairport defender and centered it to classmate Patrick Manning, who quickly darted toward the top of the slot then fired a shot just below the crossbar and into the back of the net with just 3.2 seconds left in the opening period.

“That goal was huge,” said Trimboli. “It gave us confidence and momentum going forward.”

A tight-checking second period saw the teams generate seven shots apiece and the third period produced a total of just seven combined shots as neither squad was able to break through again in regulation.

Kaiser finished with 19 saves for Fairport, which was making its first trip to the state final four since the 2008 season.

“We lost a lot of seniors from last year and nobody expected too much from us this year,” said Fairport coach Chris Moretter after his squad closed out the season with an 18-6-1 record. “We started to find our groove as a team the second half of the season and we played our best hockey over the last three weeks.”

ITHACA 6, SCARSDALE 4

In the first Division I semifinal, the Little Red (12-9-1) built a 3-1 lead by the end of the first period and were ahead 6-3 to start the third before holding off the Raiders (21-4).

Jacob Grippen led the way with two goals and two assists. Sunghyun Won tallied another two goals. Nate Walker and Eli Gordon netted the other goals while Charlie Estill logged three assists. Goalie Brandon Kasel made 31 saves.

Devon Schell generated a goal and two assists. Gabe Harousseau posted 17 stops as the Raiders fell short in their inaugural trip to Utica.

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