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Sophomore stands tall in Ford City victory

Weighing just 85 pounds and standing at 4-foot-10, Ford City sophomore Cameron Coccia doesn't have the most imposing frame for a hockey player.

But his goal 44 seconds into the third period of the Sabers' game against Hempfield Thursday night loomed as the largest.

Coccia's game winner, with assists by Alex Gladysiewski and Colton Porter, helped Ford City to a 5-4 win over Hempfield at the Belmont Ice Complex and kept the Sabers' unbeaten start to the season alive at 6-0.

"I just came around the back of the net, looking for the lucky goal, and I slipped it in the five-hole," Coccia said. "But I think we just played hard as a team."

Coaccia had four points in the Sabers' previous game against Burrell and has nine points this season -- fifth-best on the team.

"The kid just knows where to be," Ford City coach Doug Anthony said. "You could imagine if he had the size. He is tremendous. He works hard, and he doesn't get scared when he's coming into contact."

The game was the closest the Sabers have played this season. Their previous closest game also came against Hempfield -- a 5-3 win on Nov. 10.

"It's always better winning in these close games," said Ford City senior captain Ian Ferguson, who had a goal and an assist. "It's a nail-biter. After the game, it's nice to know 'Finally, we won it, and kicked some butt.'"

Hempfield put Ford City in an early hole, 2-0, as Kyle Rosendale scored his 16th goal of the season and later assisted on Michael Dupilka's power-play goal with 4:37 left in the first period.

The Sabers came back quickly. Tanner Master put Ford City on the board less than a minute after Dupilka scored, cashing in a power-play goal of his own. Then, 19 seconds later, defenseman R.C. Double found the back of the net after a pass from David Lowry. The teams were tied, 2-2, after the first period.

Lowry gave the Sabers their first lead of the game early in the second period, scoring the team's second power-play goal of the night at 2:42. Ford City finished 2-for-4 on the power play.

"There are some nights when (the power play) just doesn't click, and tonight it clicked," Anthony said. "They were just finding each other."

Hempfield's Zane Stout tied the game at 3-3, with a goal midway through the second period, but Ferguson broke the stalemate with an unassisted goal with less than three minutes left in the period.

Coccia's goal early in the third gave Ford City a two-goal lead, which Hempfield cut to one when Jarrod Huska closed out the game's scoring by getting a shot past Ford City goaltender Justin O'Donnell with 10 minutes left in the period.

O'Donnell finished with 24 saves, while Hempfield goaltender Adam Peters made 37 stops.

Ford City has a four-point lead over Connellsville in Section 3-Open. The Sabers will travel to Burrell at 9 p.m. Monday.

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