Vetter, New Hartford take Bobby Ciccotti Tournament
Senior goalie Michael Vetter and the New Hartford boys hockey team earned back-to-back wins to take the ninth annual Bobby T. Ciccotti tournament.
New Hartford edged host Rome Free Academy in a shootout Friday — the game is officially a 2-2 tie in the standings, but a winning team was needed to advance — with help from some key stops by Vetter. The next day, New Hartford rallied for a 4-2 victory over Clinton in the tournament final.
Vetter totaled 24 saves on Friday and then made 21 in Saturday’s win for New Hartford (3-1-1 overall).
Senior Kristian Mastrovito-Smith and freshman Gavin Lapolla each had a goal in regulation in both games. Senior Chuckie Gaetano scored Saturday after notching the shootout winner the day before. Junior Rowan Gall also scored Saturday.
Clinton got goals from Kyle Majka and Dylan Monroe. Goaltender John Falbo had 12 saves.
In the other game Saturday, RFA topped Clinton 6-4 for third place with help from junior Carmen Orton’s hat trick. RFA (2-1-1) scored three times in the third period to pull away from Clinton (1-3). Tyler Wilson — who also scored Friday — as well as Jack Pylman and Nick Toth-Ratazzi had goals for RFA in Saturday’s win. Braeden Sturtevant made 25 saves.
Whitesboro got three points from Josh Bono (goal, two assists) and Santino Peduila (two goals, assist). Matthew Yardley totaled 28 stops.
For New Hartford, Vetter is trying to make the most of his opportunity as the Spartans’ starter.
Vetter and RFA netminder Donte Sparace (28 saves) were both sharp Friday as the Spartans and Black Knights battled through regulation and a five-minute overtime in the second semifinal game Friday.
Because a winner was needed, New Hartford and RFA went to a shootout. It was the first time either New Hartford coach Justin Schachter and RFA’s Jason Nowicki remember going to a shootout in a game.
New Hartford got shootout goals Lapolla and Gaetano while Vetter stopped four of five RFA shooters to help the Spartans advance.
“Honestly, I was terrified (about the shootout),” Vetter said Friday. “It caught me off-guard getting that far, to be honest. I was doing breathing exercises on the bench. I was kind of freaking out.”
After RFA standout senior Jake Premo (goal, assist) scored in the first round Friday, Vetter made a stop in the second round. That helped him settle in, he said.
Then, Gaetano scored in the fourth round with help from some nifty moves and a shot past Sparace’s blocker side. Vetter gobbled up a shot by junior John Sharrino on RFA’s fourth attempt.
Vetter thought that save ended the shootout, sending him into elation. He got about halfway to the bench before realizing it wasn’t over. He slipped and fell down.
“That was probably most embarrassing thing,” said Vetter, who made a save in the fifth round to end it. “The guys were saying (after the game) that’s why I have one of the best save percentages (.927 following Saturday’s game) in Section III right now.”
Vetter — whose 260 minutes led Section III entering Tuesday’s games — said Friday he feels like he’s playing the best hockey of “my life.” He said he’s playing for his grandfather, who has had some recent health problems.
“He had a great game and stayed focused,” Schachtler said Friday. “He’s been on the team for the past couple of years and he hasn’t had the opportunities as he had this year. He’s really stepped up. We always knew he had the talent. Now, he’s getting the opportunity to showcase it to everyone else.”
Schachtler said Friday’s game had an “electric” atmosphere.
The teams combined for goals about five minutes apart in the first period. Kristian Mastrovito-Smith made it 1-0 before Premo tied the game.
The teams traded power play goals less than four minutes apart in the second period. Lapolla scored during a five-minute power play before Wilson scored on RFA’s own advantage.
“We’re a work in progress,” Nowicki said Friday. “We’re never satisfied no matter if things are perfect. We’re gonna continue to work and push each other and see where this thing takes us.”
Schachtler noted the Spartans are a young team. There are six seniors.
“So far, we’ve been playing well,” he said Friday. “We definitely have areas in need of improvement. But, it is early. These types of tough, exciting games are going to make us better.”
Clinton splits pair
The Clinton girls hockey team split a pair of games over the weekend at Kengi-NC Tournament in Lockport.
On Friday, Alexa Thompson scored two goals and added three assists to lead the Warriors to a 6-1 victory over Niagara County. Drew Kopek also scored twice and Alyssa Nardslico had four assists. Goaltender Liz Lapointe had 17 saves in the win. The Warriors outshot Niagara County 37-18.
On Saturday, with the extra attacker, Kopek scored with 45 seconds remaining on an assist from Mackinley Ronan and Lauren Rey to send the game into overtime at 1-1 against Kenmore-Grand Island.
After a scoreless a five-minute ovrtime the game went to a shootout. Kenmore-Grand Island prevailed to win the Kengi-NC Tournament 2-1. Cassi Adams made 27 saves in net for the Warriors while Carolyn Bourgeault had 28 for Kenmore-Grand Island
Clinton, which is 4-2 overall, hosts Oswego at 7 p.m. at the Nexus Center in Utica.
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