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Records out the window as Troy and Athens reignite rivalry

By: Mike Moore | Troy Times | Published February 9, 2011

 Athens coach Dave Barone said senior goalie Justin Yochem, pictured 
during a game earlier this season, or fellow senior Jamie Cattran could be a huge factor entering his team’s game against Troy.

Athens coach Dave Barone said senior goalie Justin Yochem, pictured during a game earlier this season, or fellow senior Jamie Cattran could be a huge factor entering his team’s game against Troy.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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TROY — That old cliché rings true, only this year the gong is louder and more vibrant than ever.

When rivals meet — whether it’s on the court, field or ice — intensity, passion and that unwavering will to win essentially come without need for description.

More often than not, records are equally useless before the first pitch, opening tip of puck drop.

That’s exactly the case surrounding the Feb. 16 meeting between the Troy High and the Troy Athens hockey teams.

“You never worry about records in a game like this, whether both teams are great or struggling,” Troy coach Tim Zimmerman said.

Athens’ coach Joe Barone agreed.

“You could be having the best season in the world or the worst,” he said. “When you play a rivalry game, nothing else matters.”

As both coaches spoke of the first-and-only meeting of the regular season, set for 7:30 p.m. at the Troy Sports Center, they did so with a combined two wins.

At press time, Athens was 1-13-1, while Troy was 1-14-0.

Yet records, and struggles, need not apply for this game. If it’s anything like year’s past, both teams know the battle that’s sure to ensue.

“It’s going to be two teams getting ready for what should be a great game of hockey on a Wednesday night,” Barone said. “Hopefully, come Thursday morning, we wake up with a victory.”

The Red Hawks have done just that in each of the past five meetings. After a mini two-game winning streak by the Colts years ago, Athens has won four consecutive regular-season battles and a Division 1 pre-regional game in 2008.

All meaningless right now, according to Barone.

“Those are completely different teams,” he said. “We’re not a team that can look past tomorrow, let alone look back at what’s happened in years past. The only thing that matters to this group is how we improve from one day to the next, right now.”

“Not a factor at all,” Zimmerman concurred when asked about the five-game losing streak to his top rival. “I don’t see how it factors into the thinking of these teams in this year.
With that said, you still want to go out and get a win. But what’s happened the past few years doesn’t matter once the puck drops this time.”

Both coaches also agreed on the type of game they anticipate seeing.

“Probably low scoring,” Zimmerman said.

While his team’s overall record may not indicate it, Barone believes he has two of the top goalies in the OAA in seniors Justin Yochem and Jamie Cattran, who on average see more than 40 shots per night but are allowing a shade over three goals per game.

“There’s been nights we’ve seen 55 shots, given up three goals and lost,” Barone explained. “If they are able to play as strong as they usually do, I like our chances.”

“If we get chances to score, we have to bury them,” Zimmerman said. “They have some excellent goalies that are tough to beat. Knowing that, we have to be strong in own zone. We can’t give up anything easy.”

And if the game needed one more piece of kindling to toss on the fire, well, it got just that when the pre-regional draws for the Division 1 playoffs were handed down.

“We’re going to have to show some of our cards,” Barone said with a laugh, referencing the fact that his guys will face Troy Feb. 28 in the playoff opener, “but we certainly can’t show all of them.”
 

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