With a trip to the final four on the line, the West Genesee ice hockey team was in desperate need of some heroics. Who better to fill the void than leading scorer Erich Haney.
Haney notched the game-winner with 2:22 left in the third overtime and gave the Wildcats an exhilarating 3-2 victory over Section II champion Shenendehowa in last Saturday night's Division I regional final at a jam-packed Shove Park in Camillus.
After a shot by forward Tim Besio bounced off of Plainsmen goalie Nathan Mellow, Haney was there for the rebound, sending the puck past Mellow to break a 2-2 tie and end what had turned into a marathon of a game,
"We got it down to Timmy Besio in the corner," said Haney. "He took a good shot, hit the goalie and it came right off his pads. I just back-handed it right in."
By surviving this epic, WG (22-2-3) now moves onto the state final four this weekend at Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Wildcats will play Section V representative Fairport at 12:30 Saturday. The winner of that game will play Massena (Section X) or Lancaster (Section VI) for the state title Sunday afternoon.
West Genesee coach Frank Colabufo credited the heart and perseverance of his team as the main reason his Wildcat squad came out victorious.
"It's a matter of willing it," Colabufo said. "All year long we have played against teams that were maybe bigger than us, but we kept saying all along will beats skill.
"These kids believed in one another. Shen's a great team, but fortunately we got the bounce of the puck. It's a great win for us."
That winning goal by Haney ended a scoring drought that lasted more than 50 minutes of ice time for the No. 2 state-ranked Wildcats and sent a wave of hometown spectators clad in blue and gold into a frenzy.