Thanks to a gutsy comeback, lots of offensive production and perseverance through a tense shoot-out, the Solvay ice hockey team earned the title of its own "King of the Coliseum" Tournament during the holiday break.
The fun began last Monday night in the opening round at State Fair Coliseum, when the Bearcats, down by two to Westmoreland, made a stirring rally to beat the Bulldogs 7-6.
Solvay was in immediate trouble when Westmoreland raced out to a 3-0 first-period lead. Refusing to buckle, the Bearcats got caught up in a wild period that, by the end, saw the team within striking distance at 6-4.
Then, just when it mattered, Solvay's defense tightened up, and it attacked hard on the other end to catch up and overtake the Bulldogs by getting a trio of unanswered goals down the stretch.
Tim Burgess, with three goals and two assists, and Josh Ginestro, with two goals and two assists, led the big comeback. Dennis Scanlon and Tom Missert also scored, with Ryan Chapman gaining two assists. Mike Sniffen and Nick Manobianco each had one assist.
The final on Tuesday night between Solvay and Hamilton promised to produce more offensive excitement, since the Emerald Knights outscored Ontario Bay 10-6 in its first-round game to get this far.
And that offense did show up for a while -- but in the end, it became a duel of two first-rate goaltenders, neither one of them backing down until a shoot-out decided matters.
Burgess had the only goal in the first period. Up 1-0, Solvay saw that lead vanish in the second period when Hamilton's Adam Jackowski score twice and Blaine Holcomb also convert.
To counter that, Burgess had to put in two more goals, earning his hat trick, and as they went to the third period tied 3-3, another thriller was at hand -- with a twist.
All through the third period, and two separate overtime periods, Solvay and Hamilton both had a wide variety of chances to break the tie. Each time, they got stuffed, as Ryan Bonk worked his total to 44 saves and Emerald Knights counterpart Brandon Rush had 37 saves.
When the second OT was over, the teams went to a shoot-out. Bonk would make one more save than Rush and, by a 2-1 margin, the Bearcats prevailed. Chapman twice assisted on Burgess goals, with Steven Adams also earning an assist. Solvay is now 7-3-2 on the season.