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Inspired Fairport crowns its season with a magical title  
The clock expires and the realization dawns for the Fairport hockey team, which defeated Pittsford for its first Section V hockey championship since the 1999-2000 season. The Red Raiders avenged two regular-season losses to the Panthers.
KARIN VON VOITLANDER staff photographer

Red Raiders make early lead stand up against rival Pittsford

James Johnson
Staff writer

(February 19, 2007) BRIGHTON Only one Fairport hockey team knew the joy of holding a SectionV trophy for keeps until Sunday night.

Fairport's 1999-2000 team will be joined by this year's club in the Monroe County High School Hockey League Yearbook, which lists all sectional champions.

The Red Raiders took a two-goal lead and went on to hold off Pittsford 2-1 in the Section V Class AA final at ESL Sports Centre.

Fairport goalie Eric Sorenson snagged Pittsford's final shot as time expired and briefly held his glove over his head before teammates swarmed over to him. Fairport defenseman and captain Tom Rynn was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

"After everyone got off of me, I took (the puck) out and held it in my hand," Sorenson said.

This is a Fairport team that at one point lost three consecutive games this season. The Red Raiders played from Christmas until the start of sectionals without winning back-to-back games.

Most dream seasons for teams don't include mini-nightmares like those.

"We knew that we had the most talent out there," Fairport junior forward Dave Richards said. "We just needed to use it.

"We didn't want to throw it all away."

A couple of team-bonding experiences helped set things straight among the Red Raiders. So did a rah-rah type of talk from a member of Fairport's first hockey sectional champion.

"It opened our eyes," Richards said.

"We came together, stuck with that the rest of the year and we rolled on it," Rynn said. "I can't even explain how I feel.

"I'm so happy that we did it for the team, the community and our coach (Bob Dill) because this is his last year."

Fairport didn't take long to score and get a jump on Pittsford.

Freshman Trevor Mingolia snapped a shot that leaked through Pittsford goalie Aaron Frohm 1:38 after the opening face-off. Then the Red Raiders began to hit.

"We had to prove something because we lost to them twice during the season," Richards said. "We wanted to show that we weren't a joke."

While Ethan Witkop received a game misconduct for a check from behind, Fairport's rough- and-tumble strategy worked through the first period.

Fairport appeared to take a 2-0 lead late in the period, but the goal was waved off because the puck was knocked in with a high stick.

Richards put in a shot that counted when he whacked a puck into the net 2:25 into the second period. The Red Raiders had their two-goal lead after the teams missed scoring chances during a flurry of action.

It was then noticeable that the Panthers had more room to skate and do some good things with the puck.

"Once we sent Matt Stone, Colin Hogarth and Alex Garfield out we were able to neutralize that," Pittsford coach Steve Parshall said about Fairport's physical play. "Our Internet line got going, but we couldn't seem to finish.

"We had our chances."

Pittsford co-captain Chase Collins made good on one and generated more excitement when he scored with 8:23 remaining in the entertaining period. There were chances for the Panthers but Sorenson showed that he was "a good 'keeper," as Parshall put it. Parshall also lamented about the Fairport goals.

Was a Fairport skater offsides before Mingolia's goal? Was there an interference call missed? No, according to the on-ice officials.

"What are you going to do?" Parshall said. "They were focused, they played well, well enough to win with a little help.

"We beat them twice but they won the most important one."