Maybe the time has come for the Fayetteville-Manlius ice hockey team to assume a new role -- that of championship contender.
In just a few short years, the Hornets have gone from fledgling program to something more substantial, as evidenced by the way the 2008-09 season got underway.
First, F-M, who plays its home games at Cicero Twin Rinks, ventured to State Fair Coliseum on Nov. 26 and beat Solvay 7-2.
Big outbursts in the first and third periods proved decisive, as Billy Kent gave the Hornets a three-goal hat trick. Right behind him, Matt Esposito had two goals and one assist, with Ronnie Caputo adding a goal and two assists.
Taylor Bellina had one goal and one assist as Will Reznikov and Andrew Lane each got two assists. Divakar Lal, Ryan Fero, Mike Wilson and Derek Napierala each had one assist.
A week later, in the Division I opener at Casey Park, the Hornets again thrived on enemy ice, earning a 5-2 victory over the Auburn Maroons.
Here, F-M proved it could overcome a sluggish start. It trailed, 1-0, before taking the lead for good with a three-goal outburst in the second period, then pulling away with a pair of late tallies.
In the center of it all, Esposito picked up a three-goal hat trick, adding an assist. Kent and Mason Richardson also scored, while Caputo got two assists. Mike Cleary and John Bonsted earned single assists. And Mike Poppleton thrived in the net, stopping 21 of the 23 shots he faced.
For a weekend test, the Hornets goes to the Fulton Tournament and opens Friday against Batavia-Notre Dame.