December 20, 2005 > Midget-A1
Santa Clara finishes first half with a 5-0 flourish
After playing the San Jose Jr. Sharks to a one-goal win in the regular season and a one-goal loss and a tie in preseason, today's contest with the finned fish had the makings of another nail biter. And to be sure, the teams battled evenly for much of the game. But this time, the Santa Clara Blackhawks pulled away with a three-goal outburst in the third period and finished out 2005 with a 5-0 win over their NORCAL arch-rivals. Patrick Castagna led the way for the Blackhawks, netting a hat trick as well as an assist. Kevin Brown scored in his second straight game, and Vitto Gagliardi added the remaining goal for the Hawks. Goaltender Devon Luna stopped all 21 shots he faced, running his even-strength, NORCAL unscored-upon streak to 142:24. Counting the Thanksgiving Tournament, Luna's even-strength unscored-upon streak spans a gaudy 176:39. It was his fourth shutout of the year and his second of the regular season.
The first period of today's game was closely contested with neither team scoring. Kyle Yedlicka just missed on two good scoring chances and Phillip Wong was unable to cash in on a shorthanded opportunity. The Blackhawks did a nice job on two penalty kills, sparked by solid special teams work from defensemen Brian Quirolo, Nick Lavarias, Dustin Holt, Kevin Brown, and fill-in Sam Boyer, and by a big open-ice hit from Nick Costa. Devon Luna made nine saves in the period, including a tough stop in front at 1:30 while San Jose was on the power play.
In the second period, Santa Clara had to kill four penalties, but they still managed to get on the board twice. During an early-period penalty-kill, Phillip Wong got loose on a breakaway after a steal, but Wong was once again denied on his good-look shorthanded chance. Wong did manage to get on the score sheet a short time later when he connected with Patrick Castagna on a great headman pass as he was exiting the penalty box. Castagna grabbed the pass in stride, and scored on the breakaway, top shelf, glovehand-side to give Santa Clara the 1-0 lead. Nick Lavarias picked up the second assist on the play, for digging the puck out from behind his own net and moving it ahead to Wong. At 10:33, Patrick Castagna made it 2-0, stuffing a shot through the goaltender's five-hole while the Blackhawks were on the power play. Kyle Yedlicka and Vitto Gagliardi recorded the helpers.
Santa Clara added three more goals in the final 15 minutes of play, starting with Kevin Brown's slapshot through a Phillip Wong screen at 11:16. Anthony Dragotto's kick-out pass to Brian Quirolo, and Quirolo's quick, cross-ice pass to Brown, earned each of them well-deserved helpers. San Jose earned another power play opportunity at 6:43, and they used the man advantage to try and gain some ground on the Hawks. But another successful penalty kill ensued, led by great stuffage by Devon Luna on a point blank shot at 6:30. Patrick Castagna then earned his second hat trick of the regular season when he pick-pocketed a pass and scored on an unassisted shorthanded breakaway at 6:10. Vitto Gagliardi capped the scoring for the Blackhawks when he redirected Kyle Yedlicka's wrister into the net at 0:26. Patrick Castagna picked up the second assist, as well as his fourth point of the game, on the play.
The Blackhawks wrap up 2005 with a 6-0-1 NORCAL record, four points ahead of the 4-1-1 Tri-Valley Blue Devils. The Devils and Hawks have not met since preseason, so 2006 will feature three tilts between the top two teams in the division. In between, Santa Clara will travel to Valencia to play in the Ice Station Holiday Fest, from Dec. 26-30.