Pelham falls to Ken East in OT
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UTICA, N.Y. — At the highest level of New York State high school hockey, the difference between winning and losing can be as simple as the bounce of the puck.
For Pelham, this has become a cruel reality.
The Pelicans were on the wrong side of a bounce again on Saturday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, suffering their second straight overtime loss in the NYS D2 semifinals.
Section 6's Kenmore East (21-2-1) did Pelham (16-6-2) in this time around. Dan Giliforte scored the game-winning goal off an assist from Andy Robinson with 6:16 left in the first overtime to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory. The Bulldogs will square off against Section 3's Oswego in the championship on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The Pelicans had a prime chance to win it just 30 seconds earlier in overtime, however, no one was home to sweep in the rebound.
“We had a better shot before they scored, but what are you going to do?” Pelham coach Ed Witz said. “We play against these types of teams all year long. You play against these top teams in the state and it's hard. You got to really have to have everything go right. And we were close. We were right there. That puck could have dropped either way.”
In the first period, the puck dropped Pelham's way. Andrew Dzenis gave the Pelicans a 1-0 lead with five minutes left in the opening period on an unassisted goal. The Pelicans outshot Kenmore East 6-5 in the opening period, however, Witz said they should have buried another goal.
“I thought we outplayed them clearly in the first period and I thought us getting only one goal probably hurt us,” the coach said. “I thought we were probably two goals better and we couldn't convert a second goal.”
High-scoring Kenmore East played its best hockey in the second period, sending three and four players forward in waves. The Bulldogs found creases in Pelham's defense, outshooting the Pelicans 9-6 and outscoring them 2-1.
“(Kenmore East) was playing a loosey goosey wide-open run-and-gun style, so they weren't concerned about giving up the odd-man rush,” Witz said. “We were playing very defensively, so we weren't looking for the odd-man rush.
“We have to play the game the way we play the game. When they throw three or four guys down low, maybe we have a better opportunity if I release one of my guys. But I'm figuring that we got here playing defense, you know. And we did open it up and got a lot of good chances, but that's the way it goes. It's an up-and-down game.
Anthony Amoia sparked Kenmore East's strong second-period surge, scoring less than five minutes into the second to even the game at 1-1. But Pelham answered back to take a 2-1 lead at the 4:48 mark. Colin Reilly scored it on the power play off an assist from Graham Lambdin. Reilly weaved his way through the Bulldogs' entire defense before unleashing a shot that just slipped under goalie Mike Davern (16 saves). Austin Ford responded for the Bulldogs, burying the equalizer less than three minutes later on a power play.
“The second period (Kenmore East) came back harder and we held them off at 2-2 going into the third and I thought we were in pretty good shape,” Witz said. “Even in the overtime I thought we were in good shape because we had the better of the play.”
Sometimes, however, it comes down to the bounce of the puck.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Kenmore East owns second period: The Bulldogs took control of this game in the second period, outscoring Pelham 2-1 and outshooting them 9-6. Kenmore East used its plethora of speed to overwhelm the Pelicans' defense, sending three and four players forward to create odd-man rushes.
2. Pelham comes up a goal short in opening period: Pelham physically dominated the first period, however, it only had a 1-0 lead to show for it. The Pelicans had a few chances to stretch the lead to 2-0, but they were done in by a trio of penalties. Coach Ed Witz said they should have buried another goal.
3. Borofsky big in net: Despite the final outcome, Pelham goalie Josh Borofsky was arguably the Pelicans' MVP. He made a host of saves right on the doorstep as Kenmore East's talented forwards found more and more space as the game progressed.
Kenmore East 0 2 0 1 3
Pelham 1 1 0 0 2
PE (5:00) Andrew Dzenis unassisted | 1-0 PE
KE (10:12) Anthony Amoia from Taylor Davis | 1-1
PE (4:48) Colin Reilly from Graham Lambdin | 2-1 PE *
KE (1:34) Austin Ford from Nick Pagliacci and Don Battista | 2-2 *
KE (6:16) Dan Giliforte from Andy Robinson | 3-2 KE
* Indicates power play goal
Kenmore East: Dan Giliforte (1G); Anthony Amoia (1G); Taylor Davis (1A); Austin Ford (1G); Nick Pagliacci (1A); Don Battista (1A); Andy Robinson (1A)
Pelham: Andrew Dzenis (1G); Colin Reilly (1G); Graham Lambdin (1A)
Kenmore East: Mike Davern (16 saves)
Pelham: Josh Borofsky (18 saves)
Kenmore East 5 9 4 3 21
Pelham 6 6 5 1 18
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass