The Canton Golden Bears Varsity Boys Hockey Team won their first two games this weekend against Batavia Notre Dame and Saranac. Friday night’s game was a “gritty” 3-2 overtime win and Saturday’s was a comfortable 8-4 victory to win the Bill Corbett Memorial Tournament.

Friday night saw the opening of a new season for the Bears, and nerves dictated the first period. Batavia had played games before this, and it would be a test of the Bears ability to compete with a quality hockey team. The Bears had been preparing since the season started for this game, and the preparation showed when the Bears struck first.

An offensive zone draw to the left of the Batavia netminder was won by Rhett Palmer and drawn back to Reid Doyle, who cradled the puck and sent it top shelf from the blueline. The Bears were excited until the inexperience of the group led to four of five Canton players below the goal line. A quick pass up to the high slot led to Batavia making it a 1-1 tie not 30 seconds after the Bears scored. After this, the game settled in and the Bears weathered the initial storm. The score was 1-1 after 1.

Adjustments had to be made to counter the unusual offense Batavia ran, sending one man to fly the zone and picking up the guy in front of the net. The second period is always difficult because of the long change, having to get the puck deep into the offensive zone to make a change, but what plagued the Bears were penalties.

The Bears Jack Murray was called for a 5 minute major and the Canton defense was in for the long haul, because even if Batavia scored, they still had a power play. The Bears settled in, and things weren’t going poorly on the PK, but with 2 minutes left in the major, the Bears took another penalty, this one coming from Bradly Frank, to go down 5-on-3. The Bears battled and got key clears to kill off both penalties and another additional penalty later in the period.

The PK went 7/7 on Friday and was a big part of the Canton win. The Bears powerplay is a work in progress, as there has not been enough time to work on it in games and practices. Canton held Batavia from scoring and ended the second tied 1-1.

The third period was a hard fought battle for the win. Batavia continued to post a guy on the far blueline, but for the most part the Bears forecheck kept them in check, and the game continued as a tie until Josh Aldous scored. A bad change gave Aldous time and space and he went in 2 on 1 with Jacob Rosales. Aldous dished it to Rosales, who shot the puck on net for a save, but the rebound was put away by Aldous to put the Bears up 2-1 with 6 minutes left.

About 2 minutes later, Batavia’s high man strategy finally paid off for them as they beat the Bears defense and scored. The game stayed tied due to goaltender Hayden Todd’s outstanding performance. Todd had 38 saves on 40 shots and stood on his head to keep the game as it was. Batavia took a penalty late in the third, but the Bears powerplay could not convert, so the game went into overtime. The powerplay expired a minute into the overtime with no great scoring opportunities, however the Bears were getting hungry.

Two rebounds with opportunity were just barely swatted away by the Batavia defense before they could be put home. The Bears controlled the overtime, and it was off a faceoff in the offensive zone the Bears Jacob Rosales scored his first career goal to win the game off a faceoff win by Brad Frank to Drew Blevins who carried it below the goal line and backhanded a pass to Rosales back door. A great win for the Bears in their first game of the year.

Saturday’s game was a bit different, as the Bears quickly realized they could outplay the other team, even if they themselves did not play to the best of their ability. Cade Chezum picks up a win with 18 saves on 22 shots. The Bears were again troubled by penalties, with eight in total, and they allowed two goals from these power plays. Goals and assists came from Rhett Palmer with four goals and an assist, Brad Frank with a goal and an assist, Drew Blevins, Brandon O’shea, and Jacob Rosales all tallied goals, and Garritt Palmer had an assist. A team effort both days, with scorers all over the ice.

The Bears look forward to another week of hard work to play in the Canton Tournament next weekend, playing Cicero North Syracuse at 5:30 on Friday night and Penfield at 11:30 on Saturday morning.

Photos come courtesy of Shelly Pike and Amy Hunt

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