Hockey Hornets win tournament, off to best-ever start

Fueled by Nick Zappia's frantic scoring pace, the Fayetteville-Manlius ice hockey team has produced the hottest start in the program's brief history.

The Hornets now sit at 6-0 after easily beating the field at its own tournament staged last weekend at F-M's home facility, the Cicero Twin Rinks.

In a difficult opening-round assignment, F-M met New Hartford, a high-scoring Division II East power. With Zappia impossible to contain, the Hornets beat the Spartans 6-4.

Building its margin early, the Hornets led 2-0 after one period and 5-2 after two periods. New Hartford had the same amount of chances, but just didn't finish them off despite solid efforts from Mike Zalewski (two goals, one assist) and Tom Florentino (one goals, two assist). Mike Poppleton finished with 20 saves.

Meanwhile, Zappia turned into a Spartan nightmare. Every time he got near the net, Zappia popped one past New Hartford goaltender Dylan Smith, leading to four goals and one assist.

Matt Esposito often fed Zappia, finishing with three assists to go with his lone tally as Billy Kent added one goal and one assist. Buddy Leathley earned a pair of assists as Mike Amidon also got an assist.

In Saturday's final, F-M met Glens Falls, who beat Saranac Lake in the other opening-round affair. Again, the stars came out for the Hornets as it earned a 5-2 victory and first-place trophy.

They played a close affair most of the way, F-M not really drawing clear until a pair of goals in the third period. Poppleton blanked Glens Falls in that frame, too, finishing with 26 saves on the afternoon.

By putting up two goals and two assists, Zappia moved his season total (in just six games) to 15 goals and nine assists. Esposito also scored twice, adding one assist, while Billy Kent earned one goal and one assist. Mike Cleary and Ryan Caputo earned single assists.

F-M will find out a lot this week in a pair of severe road tests. It travels south to face defending state Division I champion Ithaca on the Little Red's home ice, then goes north to take on Oswego Thursday night.

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