Moving toward the end of December, the Fayetteville-Manlius ice hockey team knew the competition would get tougher and opposing squads would not take them as lightly.
Sure enough, when Ithaca came to the Cicero Twin Rinks last Tuesday night, it put on all kinds of pressure and overcame three different Hornets leads to emerge with a 4-4 tie with the Little Red.
It was F-M's first blemish following a 7-0 start, and when things began in this game, it didn't look like Ithaca would even get to that point.
Just 1:51 into the game, Ronny Caputo's slap shot found the net, putting the Hornets ahead 1-0, and when Mason Richardson converted at the 10:59 mark to make it 2-0, F-M looked to be in control again.
The Little Red would not allow it, though, as goals by Connor Lofgren late in the first period and Cody Fisk midway through the second period forced a 2-2 tie.
Then the exchange continued. Richardson hit on his second goal to give the Hornets a 3-2 lead, only to have Ithaca's A.J. Fiore answer less than four minutes later, leaving it 3-3 after two periods.
A mere 29 seconds into the third period, Caputo hit on his second goal, a wrist shot from the same spot on the ice where his first goal happened. Less than two minutes later, Zach Hughes produced yet another tying goal for the Little Red.
Ithaca, at times would swarm the net, especially in the third period and overtime, and Mike Poppleton would turn them away, to the tune of 46 saves, more than double the number Ithaca's Zach Wilder had to make.
F-M will go to play Liverpool Thursday night at State Fair Coliseum.