Hockey Hornets stifle Liverpool

Fresh off huge wins over Oswego and Ithaca, the Fayetteville-Manlius ice hockey team did not let up in its pursuit of a playoff spot.

And the Hornets picked off another big Division I opponent last Wednesday night, when it went into State Fair Coliseum and beat the Liverpool Warriors 3-1.

Here was a game where the scoreboard masked the game's flow. F-M spent a lot of time in its own end, defending against a constant barrage of Liverpool shots.

Yet the Hornets held firm, especially Mike Poppleton. The F-M goaltender, in an echo of his spectacular effort against Ithaca Jan. 19, did much the same against the Warriors, turning away 45 of the 46 shots he faced. Only Joey Wilson's second-period goal broke up a possible shutout.

By contrast, the Hornets were a bit more sporadic in its attack, managing 27 shots -- but it still managed a goal in every period, enough to subdue Liverpool.

As he had done all season, Nick Zappia produced in a pressure situation, scoring twice and assisting on the other tally, by Matt Esposito. Billy Kent, Buddy Leathley and John Bonsted all got credit for assists, too.

Prior to that, F-M was expected to blitz Division II East also-ran Hamilton last Monday night at the Cicero Twin Rinks, yet could only manage a 4-4 tie.

Still basking in the Ithaca win from two nights before, F-M came back to reality after the Emerald Knights raced out to a 2-0 lead.

Zappia took over in the second period. He produced a natural hat trick, scoring three times and assisting on a tally by Kent, as the Hornets took a 4-3 lead. Esposito had three assists, as Kent got two assists and Ronnie Caputo added his own.

Still, Hamilton tied it in the third period and, with Skyler Vanockin recording 35 saves, hung on to that tie. Mark Vaughah (two goals), Tyler White and Blaine Holcomb (each with one goal and one assist) held the Emerald Knights' effort.

Poppleton didn't play in that game, and his presence was quite welcome when the Hornets won at Liverpool. F-M faces Cortland/Homer on Friday night.

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