December 13, 2005 > Local Hockey Update
Local Hockey Update
Two Good Periods of Hockey Just Enough to Tie
December 10, 2005
The first blemish on the Santa Clara Blackhawks' regular season record was handed to them Saturday care of the desperate and winless California Cougars. The Cougars came into the match with a deceiving 0-3-1 record, and that might have have been enough to cause the Hawks to start slowly, perhaps looking a day ahead to their big rematch with the San Jose Jr. Sharks. In any event, the Cougars got the quick start and Santa Clara's reaction was to take unnecessary penalties, which opened the door for two, first period power play goals for the Cougars. Only a big save from goaltender Devon Luna at 0:08 prevented the Cougars from stretching their lead to 3-0 to close out the period.
Staring at a 2-0 hole as the second period got underway, Santa Clara began to perform like a first place team. Collectively, they picked up the pace and for the final two periods of play, the Blackhawks' speed and skill increasingly found the Cougars skating on their heels. The Blackhawks outshot the Cougars by a 31-10 margin over the final two periods, and if it were not for one shot off the post, an early whistle, and solid goaltending from the Cougars, Santa Clara would have won the game. But the Cougars are a good hockey team and they had their chances as well over the final thirty minutes of play. In the end, the Cougars were unable to solve Devon Luna at even strength, and that spelled the difference. The Blackhawks got on the board at 6:36 of the second period, after defenseman Kevin Brown deflected a Cougars' clearing attempt with his skate ahead to Anthony Dragotto. Dragotto made a little deke and penetrated the center slot before feeding Jason Pacheco, who was moving down the left wing. Pacheco sent the puck back toward the net, where Dragotto got a backhand on it and pushed it past the goalie. That cut the Cougars' lead in half and the second period ended with the Blackhawks trailing, 2-1.
Early in the third period, Santa Clara's Jeremy Mamon whistled a wrist rocket off the post, missing an opportunity for the equalizer by an inch or so. But the Blackhawks still tied it up less than a minute later, at 11:19. Nick Costa started the play, shaking off a defender and taking the biscuit behind the net before feeding a centering pass to Anthony Dragotto. Dragotto ripped one wide that Phillip Wong collected behind the net. Moving to the opposite post, Wong centered a pass back out front to a pinching Kevin Brown. With the goalie ever-so-slightly out of position, Brown one-timed it to the sweet spot, finding nothing but net. The Blackhawks kept up the pressure, dominating play at equal strength, before just missing again at 9:57 when a rebound shot was stuffed into the net just after the referee had whistled the play dead. Neither team was able to score the rest of the way, though both clubs had near misses. Devon Luna came up with a huge, glovehand snag at 2:11, to save the day for the Blackhawks. And then, just before the final buzzer, the Cougars' netminder returned the favor with a game-saving rejection of his own.
The Blackhawks play their seventh game of the NORCAL regular season tomorrow in a big game against the San Jose Jr. Sharks. It will also mark their final regular season game of 2005. Santa Clara will open 2006 with their third and final match-up with Team Teal, so these back-to-back meetings are huge for both clubs. The Blackhawks will then be done with Sharkies until playoff time, so there is little doubt that San Jose will be amped up tomorrow, looking to avenge their earlier 3-2 regular season loss to the Hawks.
BLACKHAWKS - 2, CA Cougars - 2
Hawks Rack up 52 Shots in 8-3 Rout of Flyers
December 4, 2005
The Santa Clara Blackhawks put on an offensive clinic in their 8-3 victory over the Santa Rosa Flyers. While the team was not able to bust into double-figures in the goal column, their 52 shots were the most they have recorded this season. Leading the charge was Anthony Dragotto, wearing Devon Luna's oversized goaltender's jersey after forgetting his own sweater. But it didn't seem to slow the speedster a bit, as he netted a hat trick and registered five points for the game. Dragotto connected on a semi-wraparound goal on the power play to give Santa Clara the lead for good, 2-1, at 9:40 of the first period. He then made it 3-1 on a blistering slapshot at 6:04. Dragotto's hat trick goal came at 7:46 of the third period when he redirected a Robert Kotval shot into the back of the net.
Red hot Nick Costa scored two goals in the contest, on his way to a three-point performance, and lone goals were recorded by Jeremy Mamon, Patrick Castagna, and Billy Kiernan. Castagna and defenseman Nick Lavarias each had two assists in the game. All told, Santa Clara's defensemen contributed six assists, with Derek Fredericks, Brian Quirolo, Kevin Brown, and Robert Kotval each posting one helper. Also making their marks on the score sheet were Vitto Gagliardi and Phillip Wong with one assist apiece.
Twelve of the Blackhawks' fifteen skaters registered at least one point in what was a very balanced attack. Defensively, the team was not as steady as they were the day before in Oakland, but their eight goal outburst never left this one in doubt. Goaltender Sam Boyer improved to 2-0-0 in regular season play with 14 saves on 17 shots.
The Blackhawks look to finish 2005 undefeated in NORCAL play, but they face a difficult challenge when they face-off against the California Cougars and the San Jose Jr. Sharks. Santa Clara has had their hands full in match-ups against both clubs, and the first place Hawks can expect each of them to be fired up and ready for the challenge.
Stingy Blackhawks Play Keep Away From Bears, 3-0
December 3, 2005
The Santa Clara Blackhawks knew that they would be facing a different Oakland Bears team than the one they thrashed 11-2 in the regular season opener, and fortunately for the Hawks, they rose to the occasion. Oakland delivered outstanding goaltending from their #1 netminder, but it wasn't enough to overcome the offensive talent, defensive grit, and perfect netminding of the Blackhawks in a tight, 3-0 game. Santa Clara scored one goal in each period to put this one in the win column. Defenseman Billy Kiernan got the Blackhawks on the board first with a one-timer slapshot from the point at 3:51 of the opening period. One of the Bears' defenders set a perfect screen for Kiernan on a shot that the goaltender never saw. Patrick Castagna and Jason Pacheco picked up the assists on the play.
The score remained 1-0 until the Hawks were able to add a power play goal with just six seconds left in the second period. Controlling the puck in the Oakland zone, defenseman Dustin Holt sent a nice touch pass off the side boards to Jeremy Mamon, who spotted Nick Costa moving through the middle. Costa collected the pass and waited for the goaltender to commit, before moving to the backhand to sneak one past him. The Blackhawks added their third and final goal at 5:54 of the third period. Anthony Dragotto hit Vitto Gagliardi with a sweet lead pass into the Bears' zone and Gagliardi moved down the middle of the ice with a chasing defender fiercely hooking at him from behind. Gagliardi ripped off a close-range slapshot just as one final hook caused him to leave his feet. But it was too late for the Bears - Gagliardi's shot zipped into the back of the net to account for the final score.
Goaltender Devon Luna posted another stellar performance between the pipes. He stopped all nine shots he faced in the opening period, when Oakland was at their best offensively, and all nineteen shots he faced in the game. Luna's performance included two tough saves on open chances right in front of his own net in the final period.
With the win, Santa Clara improves to 4-0-0 in NORCAL play and will be looking to improve to 5-0-0 when they face the last place Santa Rosa Flyers at home tomorrow.
BLACKHAWKS - 3, Oakland - 0