Jake Hall scored four times to power Rome Free Academy to a 7-0 win against Mohawk Valley Thursday night, the regular season finale. The Black Knights will open the playoffs as the six seed at Fayetteville-Manlius next week.
The Raiders were the host team at Kennedy Arena, but RFA played how they have most of the season in the Rome rink, adding a “road” win to their 9-3-2 home record.
RFA head coach Jason Nowicki said after the game that it was a “little sigh of relief for us,” after scoring four goals in the last five games. “Hopefully we can build on it going forward.” The team will find out the exact details of its playoff game when Section III holds its seeding meeting Sunday afternoon.
It was Rome’s second line that got the scoring barrage started. Eli Dormio led the Knights on a two-on-one and sent a pass right to left to Joey Gulla racing in on goal. Gulla cut to the net and sent the puck home for a 1-0 lead with 10:39 left in the first period.
“I saw a lot of puck movement and a lot of right decisions, us working as a unit,” said Dormio after the win. To keep that going in the playoffs the players will have to stay unselfish.
Hall got the first of this four goals with 8:10 left in the first. He pushed a loose puck across the line as MV goalie John Locke of Oneida scrambled to locate it in heavy traffic. Dormio got his second assist on the play. Hall tallied his second goal of the game with 31 seconds left in the period, this one while RFA was shorthanded.
He took a pass from Griffin Eychner, putting the puck between the legs of a defender and then making a move on Locke before pushing the puck across the left side of the goal line with an outstretched arm as he veered to the right.
Kyle Lubey opened the second period scoring with a goal just under four minutes into the period. He took a pass from Hall, pushed the puck between a defender’s legs before gathering it and ripping a shot top shelf to make it 4-0. Later in the shift, Hall took a pass from Lubey to scored his hat trick goal.
At that point, both teams put in new goalies. For RFA, Isaiah Nebush came in and Lenny Dormio took over. Locke gave way to Eric Suprenant of Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
Dormio welcomed Suprenant with a goal on the first shift after the changes, on an assist from Jake Premo. It was 6-0. “It felt good to show what I’ve been doing in practice,” said Dormio of his productive night.
With 8:37 left in the period, Hall potted a fourth goal, again on a backdoor pass from Lubey. It was the last goal of the game.
Mohawk Valley started the third period with Noah Narolis of Oriskany in goal. They switched to Tyler Nellis of Oneida with 5:17 left in the game.
Nowicki said the playoffs will prove “how tight the league is this year. It’s about which team shows up each night. You have to be the team that wants to grab it right from the get go.” What RFA needs, he said, is “heart. It comes down to heart,” especially between teams with similar levels of talent.
Lubey said he was happy to get the win, considering the team’s struggles of late. It was “all about the win. We wanted to focus on the forecheck. We haven’t been able to score. Our offense is actually there, getting shots,” often outshooting opponents. But, he said, the team must convert more opportunities into goals. To beat F-M, said Lubey, who scored the line goal in the regular season game, RFA will have to limit the Hornets’ chances on the breakout and be “cashing in on our chances when we have rushes.”
The coach said he was pleased with “contributions up and down the lineup” Thursday. “I liked what I saw from all the lines tonight.”
When RFA traveled to F-M on Feb. 4, they lost 3-1 but Nowicki said the team could have won that game. “I liked the way we played in that game.” He noted that the Knights made mistakes in the offensive zone that led to all three Hornet goals. “I left that night hoping to get a chance to play those guys again.”
RFA ends the regular season 10-6-4 with a 6-4-3 record in Division I. Mohawk Valley was 1-18, 0-13 in the league.