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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 18, 2010

Dutchmen hockey season closed out by LaSalle

By Jordan J. Michael

TROY –– This year marked the ninth season of Guilderland hockey. Tuesday marked the sixth time the Dutch have met LaSalle in the Section II Division I playoffs.

This year’s first-round playoff meeting between the Dutchmen and the Cadets was the exact opposite of last season’s first-round contest. Instead of Guilderland winning at home, LaSalle won at home.

Dutchmen Head Coach John DeRubertis believes that the playoff series between the two teams might be even after the Cadets won, 3 to 2, at Hudson Valley Community College on Tuesday night.

“Our paths always seem to cross during sectionals,” said DeRubertis after the game. “You would think that this would be a grudge match by now, but there’s no nastiness between us. Players are always changing so the grudge doesn’t stick.”

The game seemed too clean for playoff standards. Guilderland and LaSalle weren’t very physical and the Dutch ended up with only one penalty in 45 minutes of play. The excitement of a sectional contest was hidden.

“I think both sides had playoff jitters or something,” said Guilderland senior defender Josh Evans. “Everyone was trying real hard not to mess up in a big game.”

DeRubertis had a difficult time choosing the starting goaltender. Junior Mike Alsante and sophomore Nigel Simmons have been splitting time in net all season long. DeRubertis ended up picking Simmons and he didn’t disappoint, making 23 saves.

“I told them both that I wouldn’t make the decision until right before the game,” DeRubertis said. “They’ve both done a real good job all season. Alsante was a little dejected, but he keeps a positive attitude on the bench. Alsante would have started the next game if we won tonight.”

Alsante told The Enterprise that he has been friends with Simmons for years, but the competition for starting goalie doesn’t affect the friendship. “We save the hockey talk for the locker room,” he said. “We both work really hard and motivate each other.”

Loose pucks

The Cadets scored five minutes into the first period during a four on four when Mitchell Allen received a pass from Kyle Sacks, skated wide towards the net, and stuffed it past Simmons.

About six minutes later, Sacks had a chance to give LaSalle a 2-to-0 lead and he didn’t miss, firing a shot past Simmons. Brett Bernardo, who had 21 saves for the Cadets, stopped two consecutive slap shots by Anthony Liguori and Evans.

With 36 seconds left in the first period, Guilderland got on the scoreboard after a slap shot by Shayne Tybur from the blue line slipped in on the rebound after initially being saved by Bernardo.

“We definitely came out tight tonight,” said DeRubertis. “We were jumpy and we coughed up some pucks.”

“Our game was a little off,” Evans said. “But, we shouldn’t be ashamed because we showed a lot of heart out there.”

The Dutchmen settled down in the second period and held LaSalle in check. Simmons came up big on multiple occasions, robbing would-be goals from Matt Wagner, Allen, and Vincent Planz.

Sacks received an unsportsmanlike penalty with 5:45 left in the period, but Guilderland couldn’t capitalize on the power play. Ryan Ghizzoni gave the Dutch its best scoring chance when he streaked in all the way from center ice, crashing the net.

No goals were scored in the second period and LaSalle’s lead remained at 2 to 1.

“We don’t have a lot of size up front,” DeRubertis said. “So, we tried to get pucks deep into the zone and to the net. It worked some of the time.”

The Cadets came out in the third period with immediate pressure on Simmons. It paid off because Planz scored 30 seconds in off assists from Mitchel Wacholder and Alex Verchereau. The LaSalle advantage was now 3 to 1.

Guilderland has been working with a sub-par offense all season. The team was shut out in six games and scored two or fewer goals in seven more. “The defense has been good, but the scoring wasn’t there,” said DeRubertis. “It was the ultimate cost.”

“We need to make more confident moves toward the net,” Evans said, making a suggestion for next year. “They need to play like they’re afraid of nothing.”

The Skating Dutchmen got a much-needed break when Sacks and Nolan Crowley both received penalties for LaSalle, giving Guilderland a two-man advantage. After moving the puck around the zone, Ghizzoni received the puck at the top and closed in to rip a slap shot past Bernardo. The Cadets had a one-goal lead with eight minutes remaining.

“My team worked hard in every game and never fell a sleep against anyone,” DeRubertis said. “We won some games that we weren’t expected to win.”

After Ghizzoni’s goal, the Dutch were still left with a one-man advantage. Gary Waters let a slap shot go and Liguori almost put the puck in off a deflection. That was Guilderland’s best chance to tie the game and the team never got an opportunity to pull Simmons because LaSalle retained possession.

Ending the season with a loss is always disappointing, but only one team in the state can end the playoffs with a win. “Everyone gets to this moment,” said Derubertis. “Some are more emotional than others.”

Guilderland finishes the season with a 7-13-1 overall record. Another playoff match up with LaSalle next year isn’t out of the question. There are only seven teams in Division I.

“More team bonding could lead to better play,” said Alsante, waiting for the rest of his teammates to leave the locker room. “There’s never enough of that.”

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