Hockey Wildcats take out Auburn, stay alive

Through a torrent of suspense and an even larger torrent of snow and cold weather, the West Genesee ice hockey team saw its post-season fate play out over the final days of the regular season.

To even have a shot at getting into the Division I playoffs, the Wildcats had to beat Auburn last Tuesday night at Shove Park.

Under as much pressure as it had faced all season, WG pulled through, relying mostly on a bruising defense to beat the Maroons 2-0.

Of course, the Wildcats were pushed to the brink by going 0-1-1 in a home-and-home series with Oswego on Feb. 2 and 3, before the snows hit.

When WG took the ice against Auburn, it knew that Oswego's crucial game with Liverpool on the game night had been snowed out and moved to Thursday. Thus, it had a chance, if it could win, to increase the heat on both the Bucs and Warriors.

Conor Thompson put the Wildcats on the board in the first period, and that goal would hold up.

Playing with urgency, WG's defense shut down Auburn's Matt Chadderdon, who leads Division I with 31 goals, and the rest of the Maroons' attack with physical play and timely hits. They gave great protection to goaltender Josh Schlegel, who only had to make 19 saves.

It remained 1-0 until Thompson returned for an insurance goal in the third period. Ryan McConnell, Tim Besio and Adam Mazzoni all took turns getting assists.

Now, the Wildcats could only wait. By beating Auburn, WG had built its total to 14 points, tied with Liverpool for third place, one ahead of Oswego, two ahead of Baldwinsville.

B'ville still has a game left against Fayetteville-Manlius, and that outing, combined with Liverpool's duel with Oswego, would determine WG's ultimate fate.

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