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Local hockey teams go cold

After regular season success, COC and Flyers fall in playoffs

Posted: March 10, 2009 1:36 a.m.
Updated: March 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.
After quick starts from both postseason-bound local hockey teams, the weekend brought an end to both the College of the Canyons' and the Valencia Flyers' playoff runs.

COC began with a 6-5 win over fourth seeded Albany Wednesday in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's Division III National Championship Tournament in Rochester, N.Y., but followed up its opening-round victory with three consecutive losses, including lopsided defeats to Grand Valley State and Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association foe Northern Arizona.

The Cougars dominated Northern Arizona in its last meeting in the PCHA finals, 8-1, but fell to the Lumberjacks 11-3 on Friday.

COC finished off the tournament with a 9-7 loss to Georgia Tech Saturday to place 14th out of 16 teams.

Saginaw Valley State claimed the national title with a 3-2 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.

Even with the disappointing finish, COC coach John Taferner was impressed with his team's effort.

"We now have the confidence that we can skate with the top programs in the country," Taferner said. "No person had a head down (after the losses). We're going to take this experience into next year."

Next season's prospects appear to be bright, as the Cougars will return much of their core talent from this season's team.

The Flyers also started out with a bang, registering a 4-1 win over the top-ranked Phoenix Polar Bears in game one of the Western States Hockey League's Western Division Championship on Friday.

The Flyers' fortune quickly turned, as they lost the next two games 7-1 and 8-1, dropping the best-of-three series.

Valencia took game one behind a stellar performance from goaltender Noble Tucker. Tucker allowed only one goal on 39 shots and the Flyers capitalized on their opportunites, scoring four goals on 25 shots.

In games two and three, Tucker continued to face a barrage of shots from the Polar Bears, but could not repeat game one's dominance and was replaced by backup Nick Cimity early in both games. Phoenix outshot Valencia 109-57 in the series and the Flyers only managed 10 shots in game two.

"We came out pretty flat in the second game," said Flyers head coach Chris Hartley. "Phoenix took it to us pretty good. We started of pretty good in the third game, but we just ran out of steam."

Phoenix will play the Mid-West Division champion El Paso Rhinos in the WSHL league championship for the third consecutive season. Phoenix had won five of the last six WSHL championships until El Paso took down the Polar Bears for their first title last season.


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