For more than eight months, through an entire off-season, the West Genesee ice hockey team has stewed about how close it came to winning last season's state Division I championship.
The memory of that 3-2, triple-overtime loss to Massena in that 2008 title game at Utica Auditorium (the longest ever played) has sustained the Wildcats, who want nothing less than to go back to Utica in 2009 and finish the job.
To do so, head coach Frank Colabufo will need some new stars to step up. Goaltender John Schlegel graduated, as did stars like Tim Besio, Conor Thompson and Scott Lewis. But a lot of talent came back, too, including Ryan McConnell, Erich Haney, D.J. Mazzoni, Eric Mazzoni and Ryan Michel.
Together, WG hit the ice for the first time in the 2008-09 season last Tuesday night at Shove Park, completely dominating Rome Free Academy in a 14-0 laugher.
Not content with a 3-0 first-period edge, the Wildcats doubled that total in the second period with six goals against an overmatched Black Knights defense.
McConnell had the top point total with two goals and three assists. Brady Fremont stepped up with a three-goal hat trick, adding an assist, while Eric Mazzoni and Zach Lewis each matched McConnell's two-goal output.
Both Haney and D.J. Mazzoni had a goal and three assists, with Shawn Lynch picking up a goal and two assists. Kyle Mullane and Adam King each picked up one goal and one assist. Casey Schattner earned two assists. Nick Holzhauer, Chris MacRae, John Sabert and Nate Haliwell also found their way to the assist column.
WG's opening week will continue with games against Fulton and Hamilton.