For almost half of Monday’s Monocacy Valley League semifinal playoff game, the Urbana High School ice hockey team successfully competed with a larger and better Middletown team.
The Hawks, which dressed just seven skaters due to various injuries, implemented a defensive-minded strategy to contain Middletown standout forward Florian Cotera and rarely attacked the net in the offensive zone. But in the end, Urbana grew tired and the Knights’ superior talent took over the flow of the game en route to a 5-1 Middletown victory at Skate Frederick.
“We knew we had to wear them down,” Cotera said. “We had a bunch of guys missing, but they were more short-manned.”
Cotera scored four goals and recorded an assist to lead the Knights. Middletown is scheduled to face Oakdale, which defeated Walkersville 12-6 in the other semifinal, on Tuesday in the league’s championship game.
After a scoreless first period, a power play late in the second period appeared to get Middletown’s offense going. Defenseman Eric Bertulaitis’ shot from the point on the power play was deflected by Cotera to give their team a 1-0 advantage at the 5 minute, 26 second mark of the period.
“For me, if I get that first one, I know I’m going to get more,” Cotera said. “... But everyone else and all my teammates make this possible.”
Cotera then extended the lead on a beautiful stick-handling play through multiple defenders midway through the third period. He scored again just 33 seconds later with 7:16 remaining to essentially determine the outcome. Cotera added his fourth goal with 33 seconds left in the game.
“My goal tonight was to stay in front of Flo, which we did for 41 minutes, and the gameplan was excellent,” Urbana coach Toby Heusser said. “We didn’t do a good job for four minutes and he got a hat trick. ... Once he gets the puck, he’s very dangerous.”
Michael Shearer scored on the power play late in the game to get Urbana on the scoreboard.
No. 1 Middletown 5, No. 4 Urbana 1
Urbana (4-8-1) 0 0 1 — 1
Middletown (8-4-1) 0 1 4 — 1
M — Florian Cotera (Eric Bertulaitis), 5:26
M — Florian Cotera (Denzil Cotera, Shawn Lane), 7:49
M — Florian Cotera (Samuel Bizzell), 7:16
M — Shawn Lane (Florian Cotera, Denzil Cotera), 2:23
U — Michael Shearer (Michael Rempe), 1:20
M — Florian Cotera, :33