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Five-goal period helps Clinton top Whitesboro in Section III playoff game

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
email / twitter
Posted 2/16/23

There was some motivation for the Clinton boys hockey team.

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Five-goal period helps Clinton top Whitesboro in Section III playoff game


CLINTON – There was some motivation for the Clinton boys hockey team.

Clinton was coming off back-to-back shutout losses to close to the regular-season.

There’s also the heightened awareness that comes with playing a local rival – in this instance, Whitesboro – in a Section III playoff game on home ice.

Clinton appeared to harness that motivation to its advantage by dominating the first period Thursday.

Fourth-seeded Clinton scored five times – including four over less than six minutes following an early questionable goal – in the opening period and then held off a charge by No. 5 seed Whitesboro to claim a 7-3 victory in a Section III Division II quarterfinal game at Clinton Arena.

“Someone told us that they thought they were going to come in and roll over us, so we took that personally,” said Clinton captain Aiden Soika, who had a goal and assist in the first period.

With the victory, Clinton (11-10 overall) advances to play host No. 1 Skaneateles at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Allyn Arena. Skaneateles won 10-0 when the teams met Feb. 9.

Whitesboro, which was coming off a home playoff win over Auburn on Tuesday, finishes the season 7-15 overall.

It was the third win in four meetings for Clinton over Whitesboro this season. Clinton won the last meeting on Jan. 10 by a score 7-3.

“We came out hot in the first period in that one as well, but that game was a little more tighter throughout,” Clinton coach Jon Davignon said. “The kids played hard and I’m happy for them.”

Senior sKooper Kulpa (goal, assist), Cameron Maline (goal, two assists), Caden Hinderling (goal, assist) and juniors Tyler Jarvis (two assists) and Kyle Majka (goal, assist) had multi-point efforts for Clinton. James Crowley also scored in the third period.

Senior John Falbo made 37 stops, including a few timely ones in the second period. Whitesboro’s Kristian Matthews finished with 45 saves.

Kulpa’s goal less than four minutes game happened after a collision involving a Clinton player and Whitesboro player with Matthews, who fell out of position allowing for an open net. Officials briefly conferred before ruling it good.

“I think we had that controversial first goal and we did not respond really well to that,” said Whitesboro coach Pat Gaffney, whose team was coming off a 6-1 playoff win over Auburn on Tuesday. “Ironically, it is something we talk about before every game. Bad stuff is going to happen and we need to not let it ruin us. We kind of let it ruin us.”

Clinton appeared to gain confidence as the team’s offense came in waves the rest of the period. The next four goals came from similar areas on the right side of the net. Clinton finished with 22 shots on goal against

“Obviously, that (first) goal didn’t change the outcome of the game, but whenever you have a goal that could have gone either way, you have to keep capitalizing and keep the effort up,” Soika said.

After a scoreless second period, Whitesboro made things interesting in a progressively more chippy third period. Both coaches said it was an emotional game.

Mitch Martin and Whitesboro leading scorer Santino Pedulla scored 55 seconds apart early in the period, which drew a Clinton timeout.

“Coach did a good really job reminding us what got us to this point and how hard we’ve worked and how important this game is,” Soika said. “We haven’t had a home sectional game in a while. And, coming into this year, not a lot of people thought we were going to have the season that we had being as successful we were. It was really about the fans and each other.”

Hinderling’s goal on a breakaway less than two minutes later pushed the lead back to four. The teams traded goals seven seconds apart with five minutes remaining.

Clinton knows they have a tough task against Skaneateles.

“They have some great guys that move the puck well,” Soika said. “We just have to shut them down and hopefully we have enough endurance to stick with them.”

In the another Division II quarterfinal, third-seeded Christian Brothers Academy/Jamesville-DeWitt scored a 5-2 victory over No. 6 New Hartford.

Stats for New Hartford (10-11-1) were not available.

RFA falls

No. 4 seed Cicero-North Syracuse scored four times in the first period to earn a 7-2 victory over visiting Rome Free Academy on Thursday in a Section III Division I quarterfinal game.

Braden Porter (three goals, assist) and Emmitt Porter (two goals, two assists) helped pace CNS.

Johnny Sharrino and Carmen Orton each scored for RFA, which finishes the season 12-6-3 overall.

Donte Sparace made 20 saves in 39 minutes while Braeden Sturtevant finished with three in 12 minutes.


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