Rome Free Academy hockey coach Jason Nowicki had some positive takeaways after his team’s 4-1 loss to Division I foe Liverpool on Friday night at Kennedy Arena.
“Tonight, I saw a lot of things that were very encouraging,” Nowicki said about his team after its third straight 4-1 loss to begin the season.
“I talked to my forwards and ran through the rotation after the game and I think that I can look and sit down with each one of them and tell them that tonight was the best game that they’ve played for us.”
It was the third defeat of the season in as many games for the Black Knights, all by the same score of 4-1.
Rome returns to the ice on Tuesday as it travels to Baldwinsville. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Liverpool scored two first-period goals, the first coming off of the stick of center Bobby Welch with 12:37 remaining. Carson Ferguson picked up the assist for the Warriors. Welch beat RFA senior goalie Ethan Siderine with a backhanded shot.
With 3:47 remaining in the first period, Ferguson scored Liverpool’s second goal after being fed a pass from Welch. Ferguson fired a one-timer at Siderine and beat him to double the Warriors lead.
“We came out and executed our game plan,” Liverpool head coach Rich Funnell said.
“We talked to the kids about being focused on the game plan and being disciplined in that game plan, and they did that real well in the first period and we went up 2-0, which is a good lead for us.”
With about 1:45 left in the first period, Logan Dorfman had a chance to get the Black Knights on the board when he had a step on Liverpool defender Welch. Welch was on the hip of Dorfman and forced him to go wide of the net to prevent him from getting a shot off.
Dorfman’s chance seemed to provide a spark for Rome, however, as the Black Knights came out of the first intermission and put together another good second period.
RFA came out in the second period and fired several shots on goal. Dorfman kicked off the shooting barrage with a another chance on Liverpool goalie Gavin Buza. Buza made the save to keep his shutout in place for the time being.
RFA finished with seven shots on goal in the second period and Buza turned them all away.
The game started getting chippy with 6:43 remaining in the second as Liverpool’s Ferguson and RFA’s Kyle Clark were called for the first of four coincidental penalties. Ferguson was called for a cross-check and Clark was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. The other three coincidental penalties came in third period.
“Rome came out and out-worked us in the second period honestly,” Funnell said. “We got a little bit out of our game plan and we got a little undisciplined.”
Ferguson scored his second goal of the game on a power play opportunity for the Warriors to give them 3-0 lead with 11:03 remaining in the final period. Tommy Yoxall was called for a head contact penalty at 12:11 in the period which set Liverpool up on the power play.
With 3:50 left in the game freshman Jared Hussey scored the lone RFA goal after he beat Buza glove-side, top corner. Sophomore Kyle Lubey assisted on Hussey’s goal.
Liverpool added an empty-net goal with 15.3 seconds left in the game to seal the 4-1 victory.
Buza earned the win in goal and finished with 17 saves for Liverpool and Siderine finished with 24 saves in taking the loss for RFA.
“I thought that we came out really strong in the second and third periods,” Nowicki said. “I thought that we had some good scoring opportunities early on. We didn’t quite capitalize but like I said, there were some opportunities where we tried to go short side on the goaltender where far pad or 5-hole looked to be the better option.”
Nowicki knows there is still a lot of hockey to be played. “We’ll continue to work,” he said.
“The past couple years, we haven’t been very strong coming out of periods, and it’s been a couple games where we have come out strong after the second and third period is what we needed and what’s going to help us move forward.”
Funnell said it was a good win for the Warriors.
“Coming into Rome is always a tough thing to do,” he said. “Rome is a great place to play and the fans are amazing. Rome has a storied program and Liverpool has been coming here for years, and it’s just a great place to play hockey.”