Feb 19, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All season long, the West Genesee ice hockey team has soared above Section III Division I opponents, making it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to catch them.
And the Wildcats better not stop now, for it will face as much pressure as it has all season Friday night when it takes on Ithaca for the sectional championship Friday night at 7:30 at Allyn Arena in Skaneateles.
Due to a change in the state tournament format, Division I’s runner-up will not be granted an at-large bid, unlike years past. Thus, WG must beat Ithaca, or its season, which included a rise to the top of the state rankings (it sits at no. 2 right now), will be over.
WG took that step to the title game last Friday night, when it beat Liverpool 4-1 in a hotly contested semifinal in front of an overflow crowd at Shove Park in Camillus.
To prevail here, the Wildcats had to pull off one of the toughest feats in sports — namely, beat someone for a third time during the same season. WG had prevailed in both regular-season outings, the last one a 2-1 decision Jan. 17 at State Fair Coliseum that was head coach Frank Colabufo’s 200th career win.
What helped, though, was that the Wildcats were well-rested, a fair reward for its regular-season title. Meanwhile, Liverpool had to win three times in the final week of the regular season, then beat Oswego 3-1 in a one-game playoff for that final Division I playoff spot just two nights before coming to Shove Park.
All the elements that have brought WG this far were in play during this game — a balanced attack, a dominating defense, and a steady presence in the net.
WG steadily built a 3-1 lead through two periods, then tacked on another goal in the final period. Those four goals came from four different players — Tim Bubnack, Tim Besio, Scott Lewis and Erich Haney — with Bubnack, Besio and Haney each contributing two assists.
Bubnack, along with teammates Ryan Michel and Steve Kaminski, also anchored the Wildcats’ back line, which slowed Liverpool down at every turn, only allowing a Joey Wilson goal in the second period. John Schlegel turned everything else away, finishing with 21 saves on the night.
This solid effort lands the Wildcats in the title game against the defending state champions from Ithaca. No team has given WG more trouble this winter, from a 0-0 deadlock on Dec. 18 at Shove Park to a 3-2 overtime thriller won by the Wildcats Jan. 26 at The Rink.
The Little Red, relying on its own defense, shut out first-time playoff participant Fayetteville-Manlius 2-0 in its semifinal.
With two great defensive teams ready to face off again, every goal might be precious in this championship game.