Without question, the Skaneateles ice hockey team is a group closing in on the top of Division II West -- but it's not quite there yet.
The evidence of this trend was on display last Friday night, at Fulton, where the Lakers came close to toppling the league-leading Red Raiders, only to settle for a frustrating 3-2 defeat.
In the midst of its hottest streak all season, Skaneateles was after its sixth win in a row -- and was burning to avenge a 6-3 loss to Fulton at home back on Dec. 15, when the team was not as sharp as it was going into the rematch.
Amid the hostile setting, the Lakers quickly got into trouble, falling behind 2-0 in the first period as Mike Montagna and Blaine McClellan scored to put Fulton in front.
Slowly, the Lakers settled down and began to attack. By the third period, the game was tied, 2-2, as Kaj Beck-Andersen had scored one goal and assisted on the other, by Patrick Emmer. Keith Buehler, Tory Cole and Erik Stevens all earned assists, too.
Fulton was not attacking as much. Still, with less than seven minutes left, Mike Mellon's rebound shot eluded Alex Richichi and put the Raiders back in front.
All through the remaining part of the game, the Lakers attacked, even getting a two-man advantage in the last minute due to Fulton penalties. Still, the Raiders held on, as Tyler Whalen made 24 saves.
To make that Fulton showdown carry its full meaning, the Lakers needed to get through last Wednesday's tilt with Solvay at Allyn Arena.
At first, that proved to be a bit tricky, but once Skaneateles got on the board in the second period, it took full command and pasted the Bearcats 5-2 to run the win streak to five.