Solvay hockey reigns as Coliseum 'King'

Mired with a 3-7 record, needing a kick-start before 2008 and the heart of its Division II schedule, the Solvay ice hockey team tried to find that spark during last week's annual King of the Coliseum Tournament at State Fair Coliseum -- and succeeded.

The Bearcats did not have much trouble in last Wednesday's opening round, ripping the Westmoreland Bulldogs 8-3.

Playing well on the day after Christmas, Solvay overcame an early 1-0 deficit by scoring four times in the second period to go in front, then adding to it with four unanswered goals in the last period.

Neal Purcell enjoyed his best game of the season, scoring twice and adding four assists. Tim Burgess and Josh Schneider also had two-goal outings, with Burgess getting two assists and Schneider earning one assist.

Zach O'Mara and Nick Monobianco scored, too, as Len Graf, Mike Smith, Mike Sniffen and Ryan Chapman joining O'Mara in the assist column. Ryan Bonk played in goal, giving Joey Poppe a chance to rest, and stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced.

In the other opening-round contest, Ontario Bay blew a third-period lead to Hamilton, but bounced back to beat the Emerald Knights 4-3 in overtime, setting up Thursday's championship game between the Storm and the Bearcats.

They had already met in Division II West play Nov. 27 at Haldane Memorial Building, with Ontario Bay edging Solvay 6-5.

Here, the Bearcats would get some payback, taking the "King of the Coliseum" crown by beating the Storm 3-2 in overtime.

Each side scored twice in the second period, Purcell and Burgess getting Solvay's goals. O'Mara got the winning tally in overtime, assisted by Burgess, justifying a superb effort in the net by Poppe, who recorded 38 saves.

Purcell, with his goal and two assists in the final, was tournament MVP, as Poppe, Burgess and O'Mara also gained All-Tournament status. Hamilton crushed Westmoreland 12-1 in the consolation game.

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