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Norfolk-Norwood Midgets end state championship drought

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NORFOLK - A combined effort helped produced the first New York State Amateur Hockey Association championship for Norfolk-Norwood Minor Hockey for the first time in nearly 30 years this past weekend.

Taking advantage of the addition of several players from the Tri-Town Minor Hockey program which didn’t field a team in the division this winter, the N-N Midget Minors skated their way to the 2014 Tier III 16-Under Championship in Amherst.

“We’ve always played against Tri-Town as rivals but they didn’t have a 16-U team and quite a few of their players came over to play with us. It really was impressive to see kids who usually compete against each other become friends and state champions at the same time,” said Icemen coach Tim Brown after his squad became the first team sanctioned by NNMH to win a state banner since 1976.

In capturing the state title, the Icemen posted preliminary round wins over Alexandria Bay (5-1), Jamestown (5-3) and Bronxville (6-4) before beating Northern Zone rival Louisville 7-2 in the semifinals and outlasting Bronxville 4-3 in overtime in the championship game.

“It was a great weekend all-around,” Brown noted. “There is no national tournament for us to go to from here so this was a pretty good way for us to end the season.”

N-N 5, Alexandria Bay 1: The Icemen opened the tournament on Friday by pulling away from a 2-1 first-intermission lead. Zeb Brown fashioned a natural hattrick to account for the first three goals for the Icemen. Luke Collins and Nate Stickney struck for the other goals. Kyle Bond, Mark Crump, Dean Manley, Jacob Keleher, Bailey Cortese, Hadyn St. Hilaire and Coby Munson all recorded solo assists while Ben Gushlaw backstopped the first of his five wins.

N-N 5, Jamestown 3: In their second game Friday, the Icemen scored three unanswered goals in the second period then held off the Lakers in the third for the win. Collins led the way with two goals and two assists. Brown added a goal and assist. Keleher and Stickney netted the other goals while St. Hilaire and Munson each posted solo helpers.

N-N 6, Bronxville 4: The Icemen closed out the preliminary round on Saturday by ralling from a 3-1 deficit for their third win. Back-to-back goals by Munson in the second period tied the game at 3-3 before the Icemen outscored the Blackhawks 3-1 in the final frame to clinch the top seed from their division. Brown made it 4-3 with his second of the game before Munson finished off his hattrick by converting on a a play set up by St. Hilaire and Tristen Harvey for what would hold up as the game-winner. Brown sealed the win by completing his hattrick with an empty net goal set up by St. Hilaire, who wound up with three assists. Brown posted a solo helper while Stickney recorded a pair of assists.

N-N 7, Louisville 2: In a semifinal round matchup of Northern Zone rivals staged Sunday morning, the Icemen scored the last five goals of the game to eliminate the Lightning after the teams had battled to a 2-2 tie.

Stickney struck for the first two goals before Louisville pulled even on goals by Turner thomas and Robert Todd. Munson netted the eventual game-winner assisted by Stickney with 10:48 left in the middle frame. Stickney made it 4-2 later in the second period before Brown, Bond and Munson tallied third period goals. Munson finished with two goals and an assist. Brown logged a goal and two helpers while Josh Reed earned an assist.

N-N 4, Bronxville 3 (OT): The championship game Sunday afternoon was a rematch that ended with Brown turning a break-out pass from Stickney into a breakaway goal with 1:10 left in the first 10-minute overtime to lift the Icemen to their long-awaited championship. Jake Sutton also drew an assist on the play.

Bronxville had built a 2-1 lead by sandwiching goals around a Munson marker in the second period. Collins tied the game assisted by Munson and Cortese with just over a minute left in the middle frame before Stickney gave the Icemen their first lead of the game at the 16:36 mark assisted by Brown and Munson.

The Blackhawks tied the game with a power play goal with three minutes left in regulation.

Gushlaw stood tall working the Icemen crease for 25 saves in the winning effort.

“Ben wasn’t always very busy in the other four games but he was absolutely outstanding in net in the championship game,” noted coach Brown.

Also contributing toward the championship effort this past weekend were Connor Fulk, Hunter Dewey, Tristen St. Andrews and Owen Houle. Also serving as coaches were Ben Reed and Greg Munson.

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