Devils, Hooper Ice Sixth Straight NAC Victory
BY DAVE SHEA
Ask OFA senior Kelson Hooper about his outstanding season in goal for the Blue Devil hockey team and he is fairly reserved.
"I have been able to get my game up to a high level. I am very happy about it and I just want to keep it going," says Hooper, the WSMA Award Outstanding Section 10 Goalie Award recipient as a junior, who credits the support of his teammates especially on clearing rebounds.
OFA Assistant Coach Jim Howard has worked with a lot of outstanding goalies in his long career including son Jimmy who has earned all-star honors in his distinguished NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings and played for Team USA in the Olympic Games. Coach Howard says Hooper's quiet nature is a good thing.
"Goalies shouldn't do a lot of thinking about what they are doing. They should just play and that is what Kelson does. He just goes out and plays and he is a sponge. He just absorbs everything that he is taught," says Coach Howard.
"He tracks the puck extremely well and anticipates very well so he is always in position to make the save."
On Wednesday night at the Golden Dome Hooper kept his game at a high level, tracked the puck well and stopped all 19 shots he faced as he and Blue Devils recorded their sixth straight Northern Conference win in a 1-0 victory over Malone. Hooper, who entered the game with a 1.44 goals against average and a .952 save percentage, and the 9-4-1 and number nine state-ranked Devils posted their second straight shutout, fourth shutout in the last seven games and moved into a first place tie in the NAC's Division II standings at 6-3-0 with Norwood-Norfolk. N-N is ranked 13th in this week's state rankings.
In one other NAC Division game on Wednesday Salmon River downed St. Lawrence Central 3-2.
OFA 1 - Malone 0: Kelson Hooper and Jeremiah Scharf of the Huskies (3-5-1, 4-9-2) matched shutouts until Nolan O'Donnell rushed the puck out the defensive zone, turned the corner on a Huskie defender, broke in on goal from the left wing and stuffed a shot past Scharf with just 41 seconds to play in the game.
Scharf finished with 26 saves on a night when both goalies stood tall and played tough down low making clutch stops in heavy traffic.
"We had to grind out another win but that it has been that way all season. We carried the play I thought, but Malone really skated well And the their goalie played pretty well," said OFA Coach Jon Frederick.
"Nolan O'Donnell scored on a very nice play and we can add another Crow's Sports wings to his helmet. We honor our players with Crow's wings, remembering Crow Smith, when they make big plays."
OFA returns to action on Friday playing Bishop Timmons at 5 p.m. in the first round of the Thousands Islands Tournament at the Clayton Arena. The Devils will play Northeastern Clinton Central on Saturday.
"Bishop Timmons plays in that Catholic School League in Buffalo area and they are very good. That will be a real quality test for us," said Coach Frederick.
Salmon River 3 - St. Lawrence 2: Jarred Showen and Zachary Durant scored in the third period for Salmon River and Connor Lewis scored in the first period. SLC's Brendan Phippen opened the scoring in the first period and the Larries Jarerett St. Hilaire scored the final goal at 8:09 of the third period,
.Ryan Oakes stopped 20 shots for SR and Jonah Burnette of SLC finished with 23 saves.
Salmon River 1 0 2 – 3 St. Lawrence 1 0 1 – 2 First Period: 1. SLC, Brendan Phippen (Mason Frary, Noah Adams), 10:09; 2. SRC, Connor Lewis, 13:03. Third Period: 3. SRC, Jared Showen (Tim Cook), 4:51; 4. SRC, Zachary Durant (Evan Collette, Cobie Cree), 6:55; 5. SLC, Jarrett St. Hilaire (Phippen, Connor Foster), 8:09. Goalies: Ryan Oakes (SRC), 20 saves;Jonah Burnette (SLC), 23 saves. Records: Salmon River (6-8, 4-5 NAC), St. Lawrence (4-12, 3-8 NAC).
GIRLS HOCKEY FINALS SET
The Section 10 and Section 7 Girls Hockey Playoff Championship matches were set on Wednesday night. In Section 10 Salmon River blanked Alexandria Bay 3-0 and Potsdam downed Massena 9-1.
In Section 7 semi-final action Malone upset top-seeded Beekmantown 3-2 and Plattsburgh shut out Saranac Lake-Lake Placid 3-0.