Better-late-than-never goalie saves the day

stmary_hockeyWhen the Cardinal Newman Cardinals coaching staff saw goaltender Michael Stramenga walk through the front door of Coronation Arena on Monday (Dec. 16), they were relieved that he finally got to the rink.

If Stramenga hadn’t arrived, the already short-staffed Newman hockey team would probably have been forced to forfeit its Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association game against the St. Mary Crusaders.

During the wait, since there was no backup netminder available for Newman, a half-hearted suggestion was made to Amanda Novak – Newman’s goalie for the preceding girls’ game — that she should get ready to suit up again for the boys’ squad on an emergency basis.

“You’ve got three minutes,” Newman coach Anthony Macaluso said to Stramenga, referring to how long it would be before the game was supposed to start.

Stramenga, 16, somehow dressed in time and, helped by his strong play between the pipes, the Cardinals were able to gain a 1-1 tie against the Crusaders.

The Cardinals found themselves in a bind because eight of their skaters, who also play for the Stoney Creek Warriors, chose to attend their Double A rep hockey game in Oakville, instead.

“We’ve got three goalies and two of them are on that team,” Macaluso explained. “We would probably have forfeited if (Stramenga) didn’t show up on time. Mike came up with some big saves to keep us in the game.”

With the result, Newman improved its record to 2-0-2. The tie was the second for the Crusaders to go along with a win and a loss.

Adam Rossit gave the Cardinals the lead when he made a clever move around a defenceman before firing a shot that was only partially stopped.

Newman, with just five extra skaters on the bench, held that one-goal advantage until Pat Walsh blasted a high, 20-foot slapshot past Stramenga with two minutes, one second left in the second period. It was a 2-on-1 rush and Walsh used teammate Brad Grightmire as a decoy on the play.

“We did well considering we had a short bench,” Stramenga said. “We really came together to pull out the tie. This was the first time it’s happened (players missing their high school game because of rep). The coach will try to work it out. I don’t think it should be a factor in the future.

“This year we have a really good team.”

When asked about his better-late-than-never arrival, Stramenga said: “I got stuck in traffic … the downtown bus lane. I guess I took the longer route to get here.”

Macaluso, who guided the Cardinals football team to the HWCAA and Golden Horseshoe championships this season, was pleased with his team’s performance on the ice against the Crusaders. “St. Mary is a contender for the championship every year so, for us right now, a tie is as good as a win. Especially missing all of those players.

“I told our guys at the beginning that we had to keep things simple. Basically, to attack if we have numbers. If we don’t, just dump the puck in and wait for an opportunity. I thought we had a few opportunities where we could have won the game. We also gave up a few chances. That’s going to happen when you’ve got tired guys.”

In the girls’ contest, Novak was solid in picking up a shutout for the Cardinals in their 3-0 victory over St. Mary. Stephanie Carron opened the scoring in the second period when she made a great deke on the defenceman before finding the net with a glove-side wrist shot.

Emily Coletti then took a perfect crossing pass on a powerplay rush to whip in a high shot to the corner mid way through the third period.

Alessia Marchese made it 4-0 when, after gathering in her own rebound, she scored from the slot.

The outcome evened Newman’s record at 1-1-1 and dropped St. Mary to 1-2.