No one is quite sure whether Ithaca ice hockey's sensational freshman goaltender, Andy Iles, will stick around in the high-school ranks.
If he goes, though, the Liverpool Warriors will be quite happy.
More than anyone else, it was Iles who denied the Warriors a second consecutive Section III Division I title last Wednesday night at Skaneateles Community Center, as the Little Red handed Liverpool a 3-1 defeat.
Throughout this title game, Liverpool would swarm the net and take shots, but Iles would scoop them up and turn them away. In all, Iles had 32 saves.
Ithaca had not lost in Division I all season, including two wins over Liverpool. Going into the final, though, Liverpool was playing its best all-around hockey of the season and had just come off a 3-1 Division I semifinal win at Auburn where Justin Rowley earned the hat trick.
From the opening face-off, Liverpool used its speed and daring to set up scoring chances, only to see that Iles had his top stuff. High shots, low shots -- they all got turned away.
Despite this, the Warriors appeared to be seizing momentum when it killed Ithaca's two-man advantage midway through the first period. At the 9:55 mark, the Warriors appeared to score on Iles -- but the whistle blew before the puck found the net.
A bad Liverpool break got worse when, just 1:14 after that disallowed goal, Ithaca freshman Sam Meyer flung a low shot past Matt Miller and the Little Red led, 1-0.
Late in the period, on the power play, Liverpool got back even when Rowley stuffed in a rebound when Iles was out of position. Josh LaRose and Matt Wilson were credited with assists.
That tie score did not last long. A mere 21 seconds into the second period, Sean Seyler fired from the corner -- and Ben Lance-Subtleny tipped it into the net.
And it stayed 2-1 for a long time. Miller would settle down and handle everything Ithaca threw at him, as Eric Filapello anchored a Warrior defense that kept the Little Red from pulling away.
Meanwhile, the battle waged well into the third period. Liverpool's swarming attack parked in front of the net and took their shots. Again, Iler stopped them.
With a minute left, Miller was pulled. Liverpool could not get a good shot, and Lance-Subtelny threw in an empty-net goal with 13.4 seconds left.