Ice Hockey


CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Hudson Valley Community College's hockey squad displayed a huge collective heart, in the colloquial sense, during the first half of the 2000-01 season. But at no time did the Vikings show more determination and resilience then when they traveled to Monroe Community College for an Eastern Junior College Hockey League (EJCHL) matchup on November 17.

"The game was filled with adversity that they could have just crumbled under," head coach Ron Kuhl said. "The guys really stuck together. They killed penalties all game long. We stayed in the game, and that was what we needed to do. We put ourselves in a position, going into the third period, to win. We were down 2-1."

Then, with about five minutes left in regulation, forward Mike Paine (Saratoga) slapped home a shot to tie the game at two goals apiece. Paine contributed 14 points before the winter break, including nine goals.

Another of Paine's 14 points came in the overtime session he helped force. While linemate Mike Santamoor (Saratoga) set up camp near Monroe's goal, Paine let loose with a shot that bounced off the Monroe goaltender. Santamoor knocked in the deflection with sixty seconds left, giving Hudson Valley a 3-2 sudden death win.

"We scrapped and clawed," Kuhl said. "And that's all you can do on the road. So to win 3-2 in overtime, in their building, after being on a bus for five hours, that's great."

In addition to discovering the depth of his team's desire to triumph, Kuhl found out just how good his starting goalie, Jason Vasco (CBA), could be.

Monroe managed only 28 shots during the game, of which Vasco turned aside 26, but the freshman had a shining moment in the overtime session.

"It was about a minute into overtime," Kuhl said. "He made a first save and Monroe had a guy crash the net, running into him. Our defenseman was in the crease. Jason was basically laying on the right side of the goal, and there two guys standing directly over him, and the only part of his body he could get back to the other side of the net were his arms. A kid picked up the rebound, went around the mess and just took a backhand into an open net. Jason reached across and gloved it. That was a spectacular save. If he didn't make that save, we would have lost the game. And that was a pivotal game. Winning that game really let the guys know that they could play."

Hudson Valley went on to post a 9-4 overall record in the first half of the season. With a 6-2 league mark, the Vikings are second in the EJCHL, behind Monroe and SUNY Morrisville, who are tied for first.

Dean Vandervort (North Burlington, NJ) leads the Vikings with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists). Jim Sturges (East Hampton, MA) has 24 points and Chris Paine (Saratoga) has 17 points, rounding out the team's top three scorers.

Vasco has stopped 92.8 percent of the shots he's faced, allowing just 2.13 goals per game. He has played a team-high 480 minutes. B.J. Sheehan (Albany Academy) has played 180 minutes in goal, allowing 2.07 scores per contest and stopping 91.8 percent of the shots he's faced.

"The guys really jelled and played well together," Kuhl said. "We got out of the blocks quickly and we stayed the course. I'm thrilled. I'm having fun coming to the rink. It's fun being around these guys; they're a great group."

In particular, Kuhl is pleased with the play of his first line offensive unit: Vandervort, Santamoor and Mike Paine – "They can go against any line in the league; they're terrific hockey players." He also has praise for second line right winger Adam Finkin (Saratoga).

"He's surprised me, and he's been nothing short of terrific," Kuhl said. "Adam started off on our fourth line. But he's just working hard and he does good things with the puck. He's been a very, very pleasant surprise."

Kuhl expects more success for the Vikings in the second half of the campaign.

"Really, the break came at a perfect time," Kuhl said. "I think the players were tired emotionally and physically. Most of them are freshman, and it's a big, big adjustment in their lives. So the break came at a good time. During the first couple of practices, the enthusiasm is back and the spark seems to be there, so I expect a lot more of the same. We've got 12 games left. I expect to win all 12. I expect to have a terrific second half."