Raiders Have Eye On Ultimate Prize This Weekend
The schedule has been set for this weekend’s AAU New York State Hockey Tournament at Northwest Arena, and the Jamestown Raiders are ready to get back to work in their pursuit of a New York state championship.
After losing to Royalton-Hartland, 4-1, at KeyBank Center last Friday in the Western New York High School Club Hockey League Championship, the Raiders will enter this weekend with home-ice advantage as they look to bounce back from that loss and fight their way into Sunday’s semifinal and final games.
“Now we’re moving on to what really counts,” Jamestown head coach Joe Gerace said. “I feel very confident that this group of young men will not be satisfied unless they are state champions.”
Entering the weekend in the Mixed School Division, the Raiders will get things started at 3:30 p.m. today against Manhasset. From there the schedule heads into early morning action with a 7 a.m. game against Rockville on Saturday, followed by a 7 p.m. game against Wantagh-Seaford that evening.
With a heavy load of games on tap in such a short period of time, Gerace is pleased that his team will enter the weekend in their own facility and be able to take advantage of the comforts of home.
“I think that it adds to the comfort of knowing the ice and the facility and being able to sleep in your own bed is a huge advantage when you are talking about the game schedule that we are facing,” he said.
All teams in the Mixed Division, as well as the Large School and Small School categories, will play three round-robin games to determine who moves on to Sunday’s semifinals, for which the Mixed Division teams will take to the ice at noon and 12:15 p.m. before the 5:30 p.m. finals.
Round-robin games will end in ties following the conclusion of three 17-minute periods of play, while semifinal and final games will go through five minutes of four-on-four overtime, followed by five minutes of three-on-three overtime. If there is still a tie after those two extra periods the teams will continue playing three-on-three until a winner is determined with no shootout taking place.
Should teams finish round-robin play with an even number of points, a long list of tiebreakers will determine who moves on, starting with most wins for the weekend and then goal differential.
While it is possible for teams to move on to semifinal play without winning all three games, Gerace knows that his team will be better suited to come away with a trio of victories before the final two rounds of play.
“We don’t know much about the teams because their win and loss records don’t mean anything to us. We expect quite a bit of competition this weekend,” Gerace said. “I think if we play our game there is not a team that can beat us. We had our three practices this week, we finish (Thursday) and then head right into the tournament.”
Joining Jamestown in the tournament is Cheektowaga in the Large School division, Canisius in the Large School division, City Honors/Cardinal O’Hara in the Small School division, East Aurora/Holland in the Small School division, Roy-Hart in the Mixed Division, Iroquois/Alden in the Mixed Division and Orchard Park in the Large School division. St. Joes has teams in both the Large School and Small School divisions.
While Gerace knows that his team will have the advantages of home this weekend, the leadership and locker-room attitude of his team looks to be one of the keys to success as well.
“We want five wins this weekend, that is our goal,” Gerace said. “I think that all along this season, around the whole team we have had tremendous leadership whether it is from our captains or other players. I’ve never coached a more cohesive group of young hockey players.”
After winning the Mixed Division championship last weekend via a 3-0 win over Iroquois/Alden, the Raiders jayvee team will enter this weekend’s state tournament at Hyde Park Ice Pavilion in Niagara Falls.
The Raiders jayvee will get started at 1 p.m. today against Port Washington before playing Wilson/Newfane at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Bellmore/Merrick at 4:30 p.m.