Ice Hockey

Vikings Capture National Crown

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Sunday, March 11, 2001

Hudson Valley Downs Bottineau 9-7 To Win First Title

If Hudson Valley Community College's 2000-01 hockey team is now known as giant killers, Michael Paine (Saratoga) deserves a nametag identifying him as the proverbial David. Skating in a hostile rink against a team of Goliaths, Paine delivered two fatal blows to Minot State University-Bottineau, including the game-winning goal, and his teammates played huge, knocking down the Lumberjacks, 9-7, to claim a national junior college title.

Hudson Valley, who scored a 5-0 victory against Bottineau Saturday, captured the first hockey crown in Hudson Valley's history. The tournament, played at the Lumberdome in Bottineau, N.D., featured a two-team, two-game format, with the first team to reach three points being declared the victor.

Therefore, the Vikings needed only a tie to secure the overall tourney win, but according to Paine, who had two goals and two assists, Hudson Valley was determined to win the contest.

"We definitely didn't want a tie," the first-year right winger said. "We wanted to win both games. Who wants a tie? We didn't want a cheap (tournament) win."

To triumph, Hudson Valley had to overcome a huge size deficit; the hometown Lumberjacks had an average of three inches height on the Vikings' skaters.

"Our speed took over the game," said head coach Ron Kuhl, explaining how he counteracted Bottineau's bigger players. "Our speed and creativity."

Hudson Valley opened up the game by pressing Bottineau's offensive attack like it was a wrinkled suit.

"Our strategy was to play tough defense," Kuhl said. "Defense wins championships. So we came out fast and got a couple turnovers, which we converted."

The stifling Hudson Valley defense resulted in four first-period scores, one each by tournament MVP Dean Vandervort (Jacobstown, NJ), Phil Usas (Ballston Spa), Kevin Graber (Troy) and Kyle Reddon (Gansvoort). The Vikings held a 4-1 advantage after one period.

"Getting that four-spot was huge," Kuhl said. "That gave us a big boost of confidence."

Bottineau, however, roared back in the second period, outscoring Hudson Valley 4-2 and making it 6-5 in Hudson Valley's favor.

"You know what?" Kuhl said. "It was OK, because if they scored eight goals, we were going to score nine."

In the third period, with Hudson Valley holding just a one-goal lead and Bottineau pulling out all the stops in an effort to tie the game, Paine took a pass from Vandervort and skated in on a breakaway, putting the puck past Matt Millar, Bottineau's second goalie of the game. Paine's score, with 9:08 left, gave Hudson Valley an 8-6 lead and proved to be the game-winner.

"Words can't describe number 19," Kuhl said of Paine. "His vision and feel for hockey is better than anybody I've ever coached. Every time we needed a key play, BOOM, the puck was on Michael's stick."

Jim Sturges (East Hampton, MA) added a goal with 3:57 remaining for Hudson Valley, his second tally of the game. Mike Santamoor (Saratoga) also scored. Jason Vasco (CBA) made 46 saves.

Graber, a defenseman from Troy, earned All-Tournament status, along with Paine and B.J. Sheehan, who stopped 48 shots Saturday.

"I can't explain how this feels," Paine said. "I'm so excited. It's great being the best."