By TIM IRVING
“I’ve known those guys for six years, ever since I started playing it’s been a rivalry.”
Hilton senior Joey DiMaria notched a win for the Cadets’ side of the Hilton-Spencerport rivalry in dramatic fashion Saturday afternoon, scoring the overtime game-winner in a 13-12 victory over the Rangers.
DiMaria scooped up the rebound after teammate Brendon Bostley’s backhand shot was stopped by Rangers goalie Adam Birkbeck, and scored the sudden victory goal.
“I told them, find the right shot, not take any shot but find the right shot and we had a nice little dive that bounced off the goalie and trickled to where we needed to be, “ said Hilton head coach Craig Lepiane.
The Rangers got out to the early lead on two goals from freshman attack Anthony Rodriguez.
Down 3-1, the Cadets ran off three straight with Mercyhurst-bound attack Matt Mojsej and John Englert scoring goals late in the first half to tie it 3-3 at the break.
In the third, the Cadets got hot with a stiff wind at their back. Mojsej scored on the Cadets’ first possession.
Spencerport took a 6-5 lead when Connor Mesh won a face-off and scored.
That triggered a four-goal run, all without Mojsej who suffered an injury. Joe Maneti and DiMaria scoring goals to take a 7-6 lead.
Kyle Jensen scored his second goal of the third quarter and Bostley scored out front and it was 9-6 Hilton.
Englert scored late in the third quarter and the lead was 10-7 heading to the fourth.
And then the Rangers, entering the game with just one loss, made their move.
Mesh won the opening face-off and fed Tyler Gostling for a goal just eight seconds into the final frame.
Gostling scored again later to continue to keep it a two-goal game at 11-9.
Then another Spencerport freshman, Jayden Kittelberger, scored his first of the game with under four minutes to play, answering another Cadets goal, 12-10.
With 1:34 left, Rodriguez scored his fourth of the game and made it 12-11.
The Rangers won the face-off but a tying goal was stopped by Cadets goalie Clayton Duford (seven saves) and Hilton took possession.
But a gusting wind made clearing the ball difficult all game and with 21 seconds left, Spencerport got the ball back on their side of midfield. Mesh ran the ball up and hit Kittelberger out on top and with 7.3 seconds left, tied the game 12-12.
On the overtime face-off, Mesh was called for a face-off violation and the Cadets got the ball and got the game-winner on the first possession.
“Spencerport is a very good team, 13-1 coming in and they have battled and beaten a lot of opponents that we have lost to and it really comes down to our team and our focus and really trying to get our mental side going in the right direction,” Lepiane said of his squad.
Englert and Keagan Grim finished with two goals and an assist each.
Spencerport, win or lose, was looking at the fourth seed in a top-heavy Class B Sectionals, with Canandaigua, Victor and Webster Thomas all with one loss.
Hilton enters the Class A Sectionals with a 7-9 record, likely putting them as a fourth or fifth seed and on the same side of the seven-team bracket as top-ranked Fairport.