Since he took over at the helm of the West Genesee ice hockey program in 1994, Frank Colabufo has seen both extremes of life at the helm.
On one hand, his Wildcats won a state Division I championship in 2001 and have, on five different occasions, finished in the state top 10. On the other hand, there have been seasons of immense struggle, especially the 2-20-2 campaign of 2004-05.
Now, though, times are great. WG leads the Division I standings with a 16-1-2 mark and, on Thursday night, made Colabufo the 28th coach in state history to reach the plateau of 200 career victories.
That 200th win proved to be a tough one to attain. Liverpool turned Thursday night's game at State Fair Coliseum into a bruising affair dominated by the defenses.
But when the final horn sounded, the Wildcats had beaten the Warriors 2-1, allowing players, fans and parents to present Colabufo with a cake celebrating this milestone in his coaching career.
When he started in '94, Colabufo had a difficult act to follow. Dr. Roy Fitzgerald had built the Wildcat program into a powerhouse in his stint from 1986 to 1994, going 85-76-5 and winning a state championship in 1990.
Soon enough, though, Colabufo had his team winning at an even higher rate. Five times in Colabufo's first nine seasons, WG reached the year-end state rankings, peaking with the 2001 state title and a sequel in 2002 that wasn't bad, either, as it reached the state finals again. In those two years alone, the Wildcats went 44-11-3.
And even when it won just twice in 2004-05, Colabufo did not fret, knowing that he had a very young team that could win again if given the chance to grow.
WG went from two wins to seven in 2005-06, then went 14-9-2 a season ago as it made it return to prominence. Now league, sectional and state honors are all within the Wildcats' reach again, as it leads the Section III Division I standings going into the regular-season homestretch.