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North puts freeze on rival

It was the Black and Blue game on ice in front of a near-capacity crowd Saturday night at The RRRink.

And for the third time in four meetings, the North Medford hockey team had the upper hand over crosstown rival South Medford.

Junior Gianni Assam scored a hat trick, Sam Jossie added two goals and goalie Alex Orr turned away 34 shots to lead the Black Tornado to an action-packed 7-4 triumph over the Panthers in a Southern Oregon League matchup.

We've got a good group of kids, said North coach Coy Iacono, whose team improved to 2-2 on the season after dispatching South in the two-year-old rivalry. They absolutely know this is a rivalry game.

Both teams came out inspired.

— While Jossie and Assam were consistently threatening on the offensive side, Orr proved to an impenetrable force in goal.

With his mammoth frame and lightning-quick hands, the senior keeper turned away shot after shot in the first two periods and made several key saves in the final period as South attempted to rally.

That's the most focused I've been, said Orr, in his third year playing hockey. The gravity of the game, it being a rivalry, kept me in there and focused.

Orr turned away 34 of the 38 attempts sent his way ' many of them glove saves.

I played baseball for 10 years, said Orr, who used the similar technique of gloving pucks as he did fielding throws at his first base position. I think my reactions have gotten a lot better since I started playing. That's the biggest thing.

Added Iacono: Alex's been standing on his head for this one. I couldn't ask for more from him.

The Panthers (0-3) finally broke through against Orr in the second period.

Jossie tallied twice for a 2-0 lead in the first period and Assam tacked on his first score in the opening minutes of the second for a 3-0 advantage.

Freshman Wyatt Small put South Medford on the board with 5:33 left in the period when he beat a North defender to the puck and raced down to slip a nifty goal past Orr.

Duston Fender answered for North at the 3:38 mark, but Small tallied again 30 seconds later to end the half with the Tornado ahead 4-2.

North Medford immediately went to work in the third period.

Assam weaved through traffic from right to left and whipped a slicing shot past South goalie John Adamson for a 5-2 lead.

Less than two minutes later at the 10:14 mark, freshman Sierra Chiverton fully extended to her right to flip in a close-range shot that pushed the advantage to 6-2.

But South Medford didn't quit.

Senior Devin Thompson scored a pair of goals within 21 seconds to keep the Panthers alive, down 6-4 with 5:24 left.

Devin is a converted football player who is highly motivated, said South coach Erich Weber. He's on the third line. That says something right there.

Assam, however, had the final say when he put the game away with 3:40 to go with his third and final goal.

Assam's big night propelled him into the league's top spot in points with 14.

Gianni is always a threat, said Weber. I think the keys to the game were Gianni and their goalie. (Orr) was incredible.

Jossie also had three assists for North, while Assam, Trevor Heinsohn, Fender and Joshua Sparks assisted on goals.

Luke Mensik had two assists to lead South Medford. Kevin Weber, Samantha Andrews, Justin Mocabee and Lane Littlefield also had assists for the Panthers.

Adamson stopped 19 shots against 26 North Medford attempts.

North Medford......................................2 2 — ' 7

South Medford......................................0 2 2 ' 4

Goals ' North Medford 7 (Assam 3, Jossie 2, Fender 1, Chiverton 1), South Medford 4 (Small 2, Thompson 2).

North puts freeze on rival"kgoff@mailtribune.com.

South Medford?s Jared Adamson approaches North Medford?s Gianni Assam Saturday at The RRRink. Mail Tribune / Andrew Mariman - Mail Tribune Andrew Mariman