Five long days had passed -- enough time for the Liverpool ice hockey team to flush a potentially damaging defeat out of its system and show its best stuff again.
Keeping alive its hopes of returning to the Section III Division I playoffs, the Warriors put together a first-rate performance against Auburn last Thursday night at State Fair Coliseum, beating the Maroons 5-2.
In doing so, Liverpool avenged a loss to the playoff-bound Maroons on Jan. 4. More importantly, it moved into third place alone in the Division I standings behind Auburn and first-place Ithaca. Only the top four teams advance to the playoffs.
This was the Warriors' first game since a bitter 5-4 overtime loss to cellar-dweller Fayetteville-Manlius on Jan. 26.
Auburn was the last league home game for Liverpool, and the team knew that a defeat could mean an early exit, since the other three post-season contenders -- Baldwinsville, West Genesee and Oswego -- all had games left to change their place in the standings.
With the top line of Matt Wilson, Josh LaRose and Justin Rowley clicking, the Warriors exchanged goals with Auburn's Matt Chadderdon up until the second period, when Liverpool broke a 2-2 tie and went ahead for good.
Overall, Wilson had two goals and two assists. Both LaRose and Rowley finished with one goal and two assists, while Joey Wilson also found the net. Dan Cibelli added an assist, too.
Just as importantly, Liverpool's defense, a weak spot for much of the season, stepped up after Chadderdon's early success, shutting down the Auburn attack all through the late stages. Matt Miller picked up 22 saves.
Liverpool takes on Oswego Tuesday night, then plays two non-league games against Ogdensburg and Sweet Home.