Exeter, NH – With the playoffs beckoning, Albany Academy made a trip East to Phillips Exeter in order to take on the Big Red. Both teams come in with at least 10 wins record looking to improve their chances at being selected for the second season.
This game was a chess match from the drop of the puck in the first period. There was an early feeling out period before the Cadets really started to take over. They played excellent defensive hockey in the neutral zone and Exeter barely had any offensive chances. The Cadets put the pressure on all period long by activating their defense and putting as many shots on net as they could. There were a couple of good rebounds left sitting in front but ultimately none made it to the back of the net. Later in the period, Exeter fought back and started to build momentum, until an Albany Academy penalty broke the seal on the sin bin. Once again, the Cadets hemmed Exeter in, but junior goalie Ryan Welch (Swampscott, MA) was up to the task. Just as the penalty was wrapping up, senior defender PJ Garrett (Duxbury, MA) entered the zone on the left flank and shot a puck that deflected up high and bounced into the top corner and out…but the referee missed it, calling no goal. The sparse home crowd was incensed as was the Exeter bench, but the score remained knotted at 0 after 1.
In the second period, it was a more even frame with both teams generating quality chances. Despite there being more chances, there were still a lot of turnovers created in the neutral zone by both sides. Sticks were active going both ways. Ultimately, the biggest chance for a momentum shift in the period came with seven minutes to go as the Cadets were whistled for back-to-back penalties called about a minute apart. Coach Barbin called Exeter’s timeout thinking this was the time to capitalize and really put Albany in a hole. But the Cadets rallied with a number of big blocks in front of the net, generating enough clears to kill off both infractions. The second ended, still, with no score.
In the third and final stanza was when the action really took off. Albany started off with a strong push and five minutes in PG captain forward Kevin Quinn (Kitchener, ON) snuck into the slot and fired one past Welch to make it 1-0 Cadets. Exeter did not take this lightly and responded with a great shift and 45 seconds later senior forward Michael Pitts (Raymond, NH) came out from behind the net and rocketed a pass to defenseman Nicholas Foderaro (Methuen, MA) who fired home a slapper to tie it at 1-1. The game then took on an exciting ebb and flow where both teams had great chances to pot the winner, only coming up short on each attempt. Ten minutes went by and then Foderaro took yet another shot from the point which Reese Ramirez (Pittsburgh, PA) tipped a few feet in front of the net to win the game for the Big Red. His goal came with 2:41 to go, and despite the best efforts of the Cadets, they really never got a great look at the net thereafter. 2-1 final.
- F Reese Ramirez, Exeter
- D Nicholas Foderaro, Exeter
- G Ryan Welch, Exeter
This game, while it took nearly two and a half periods to finally see (an official) goal scored – this game did not lack in excitement, especially the way both defenses played. Both of them are constructed differently, but both were very effective in executing their game plans tonight. Albany Academy is mobile with the puck from the back end and looks to make the quick transition whereas Exeter is more interested in size and brute force to dislodge the puck and look for a seam pass. The neutral zone was a battle all game long, both teams showed great stick work and the ability to use the walls to redirect pucks past the opposition. Both goaltenders were very good in this game as well, making key saves and clamping down on second chances. Ryan Welch for Exeter was solid because he didn’t try to do too much: he stayed on his angles and kept things simple. PG goalie Kyle Penton (Waltham, MA) for Albany was more shifty in net but he was confidently snatching pucks out of the air all game long.
For Exeter, we thought Reese Ramirez got better as the game went along, making smart possession plays and winning 50/50 battles in his own zone. Junior forward Danny Colon (Mendham, NJ) was the most consistent offensive player in this game with some tricky stickhandling and defender Nicholas Foderaro played a complete game at both ends with a nice mix of physicality, good gaps and decision making. We were a big fan of Noah Jankowski‘s (Methuen, MA) game tonight: he was a heat-seeking missile hitting just about anything that moved
For Albany, we were impressed by their D core, namely Andrius Kulbis-Marino (Methuen, MA) who was fully engaged all game long – winding up one-man transitions in all three periods: looking to attack the net with any space he was given. Defender Jackson Caroll (Delmar, NY) and defender Sean Conlon (Averill Park, NY) formed a nice tandem for extended stretches for the Cadets. Carroll showed a good stick and tricky moves in the offensive zone whereas Conlon filled in the shot lanes nicely and was always looking to get the puck on net when he had possession.