For the Hamilton ice hockey team, the chance to appear in last week's King of the Coliseum Tournament at State Fair Coliseum turned into an opportunity to build some confidence before resuming Division II East play.
And by the time it was done, the Emerald Knights nearly had that crown, denied only in the drama of a penalty shoot-out with host Solvay after the teams played to a 3-3 tie.
It all got underway last Monday afternoon with a wild affair against Ontario Bay where the Emerald Knights used a big second period to take command in a 10-6 victory over the Storm.
Neither defense had much success in the first period as Ontario Bay inched in front, 4-3. But the Emerald Knights would settle down and, in the next 15 minutes, blitz the Storm for five goals as it took an 8-5 lead, which would hold up.
Both B.J. Drozynski and Tyler White earned three-goal hat tricks, with Drozynski adding an assist. James Smith put in two goals and two assists, and Blaine Holcomb proved quite helpful with four assists.
Adam Jackowski and Kinnon Nolan-Finkel each had one goal and two assists, with Dylan May joining Drozynski with one assist. Hamilton out-shot Ontario Bay 45-22, though Joe Ryan kept the Storm close with four goals and one assist.
The final would be against Solvay, who needed a dramatic three-goal rally in the third period just to get past Westmoreland 7-6 in the other half of the opening round.
Trailing 1-0 after one period, Hamilton got rolling with three goals in the second period as Jackowski scored twice and Holcomb also found the net. May and Joe Santoro joined Holcomb in the assist column.
However, the Bearcats' Tim Burgess built a hat trick by the end of that period to tie it, 3-3, and they would stay even through the third period and two overtime sessions. Both Rush (37 saves) and Solvay goalie Ryan Bonk (44 saves) had outstanding efforts.
So it came down to a shoot-out. Solvay converted twice, and Hamilton got just one goal, allowing the Bearcats to prevail.
With a record of 2-4-2, Hamilton resumes league play Tuesday night at Starr Rink, hosting Whitesboro.