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Portside falls short in Class A Title game

By: Zachary Harnischfeger

The Portside Royals came into the matchup with the McQuaid Jesuit Knights looking to ride the high of knocking off the 17-2-1 Pittsford hockey team. A strong start for the Royals was not enough as the Knights came from behind to win the Section V Class A Championship, 4-2.

"We've dealt with so much adversity this year," Portside head coach Bill McGrath said. "They just ran out of legs. They just ran out of it. They competed and they gave everything they could and sometimes that's the way it goes."

For most of the first period, the Knights controlled possession and were unable to capitalize on any of their scoring chances. The Royals struck first at the 11:08 mark in the first period after senior forward Kevin Eckard netted a goal off a pass from Justin Pastorella. The Royals' defense was able to hold strong and didn't allow the Knights to get anything going offensively.

Kevin Eckard and his teammates celebrating his goal. Photo Credit: Zachary Harnischfeger, 89.1 the Point

At the 5:57 mark in the second period, junior forward Connor Thomas scored a goal to extend the Portside lead to 2-0. Later in the period with just over three minutes to play, forward Jack Callery scored on a power play for the Knights to cut the lead to 2-1.

Connor Thomas (#26) celebrating his goal with his teammates. Photo Credit: Zachary Harnischfeger, 89.1 the Point

The Knights came out firing in the third period. Just 44 seconds into the third period, forward Lou Zaari tied the game at two apiece. About two minutes later, forward Chase Brock gave the Knights the 3-2 lead with a goal off a pass from Liam Palmer. With just under two minutes left to play in the third period, Brock extended the lead to 4-2 scoring his second goal of the game.

"We came out solid the first two periods," Portside forward Frank Grad said. "I think we got in our own heads and got ourselves in a hole that we couldn't dig ourselves out of. We had to just come out hot. That's all we had to do. We had to keep our energy up and continue to play the way we were playing the first two periods."

The Royals were unable to capitalize on any of their scoring chances and the final score was 4-2 in favor of the Knights.

Portside goalie Danny Kuckmerowski had 35 saves in the game. This was his second straight game with 35 saves. Kuckmerowski credits his success to the support from his team and family.

"The support by family and this team is just phenomenal," Kuckmerowski said. "My preparation is just building off that and it's been great this entire playoffs and the entire season."

Kucmerowski making a save. (Photo Credit: Zachary Harnischfeger)

McGrath is excited for the future of the program.

"It's tremendous," McGrath said. "We lose four seniors and will return 90% of our team. This experience alone is going to fuel them. They've learned so much from this run. The younger guys that we got coming up in the program are going to fill in and supplement very nicely. We've got a bright future here."

With the loss, the Portside Royals finished the season with a 12-9-2 record.

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