Dec 10, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Great as a 3-1 start was for the West Genesee ice hockey team after two seasons in the Division I cellar, it still had a lot to work on.
First of all, the Wildcats had to show it could win in league games. Second, WG needed faster starts so it didn’t have to rely on tense affairs, as all three previous wins had come by just a single goal.
Both concerns were addressed in an adequate way last Wednesday night, at the Twin Rinks, where the Wildcats blew past Cicero-North Syracuse 5-2 in its league opener.
Not waiting for anyone, WG roared out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period, all the offense it would need as it used single tallies in the next two periods to maintain that cushion, out-shooting the Northstars 44-19 along the way.
Tim Besio’s pair of goals led the way. Conor Thompson, Rob Sauda and Ryan McConnell each scored once, with Steve Streiff and Eric Haney each getting two assists. Scott Lewis added one assist.
On defense, WG only lapsed in the second period, shutting out the Northstars in the other two frames as goalie John Schlegel made 17 saves.
Now came the Wildcats’ annual road trip to the extreme northern part of the state, for two games in the Massena Tournament — and WG would win them both, too.
This began Friday night, when WG steadily pulled away from Ogdensburg and registered a comfortable 4-1 victory in the opening round, scoring in each period along the way.
Besio again got two goals, adding an assist, while Streiff and Thompson also took turns putting shots in the net. Streiff added two assists, and Lewis earned an assist, too. Evan Mazzoni returned to the net and was superb, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced.
Saturday’s final with host Massena provided a familiar plot line, as WG, for the fourth time in this young season, earned a one-goal victory, beating Massena 3-2.
A third-period goal broke the 2-2 tie and earned WG the first-place trophy. Sauda, Lewis and Besio each got goals, with Besio garnering tournament MVP honors.
Sauda and Streiff were named to the all-tournament team as Streiff, Nate Halliwell, Eric Haney and P.J. Hart all got assists, and Schlegel took his turn in the net, recording 22 saves.
Once the Wildcats (6-1) came back home, it focused on two huge games this week against Liverpool (at Shove Park on Tuesday) and Baldwinsville (at Lysander Arena on Thursday) that would give the best possible measure of just how much the team had advanced.