Nine consecutive wins, all of the impressive variety, propelled the West Genesee ice hockey team to the top of the first state Division I rankings of the season.
Now the Wildcats had to back up that lofty position, taking every opponent's best shot -- including that of long-time rival Ithaca, who arrived in Camillus Tuesday night for a key early-season showdown.
With a packed house at Shove Park roaring their approval, WG relied on its tried-and-true winning formula -- including a large dose of Ryan Michel - to put together a 4-0 victory over the Little Red.
All of the offensive damage was rendered in the first two periods, with the Wildcats scoring twice in each frame as it put constant pressure on Ithaca goaltender Cooper Belyea, who would finish with 21 saves.
Every time WG score, Michel was involved. Either he was putting in two goals, or he was assisting as Casey Schattner and Adam King converted. Zach Lewis also finished with two assists as Michel's defensive partner, Tim Bubnack, earned one assist.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the rink, Michel, Bubnack and the rest of the Wildcats' back line were putting together its sixth shutout in 10 outings, keeping the work light for goaltender Anthony Militello, who had just nine saves.
That game with Ithaca followed, by three days, the Wildcats' non-league outing against Potsdam at Shove Park on Dec. 19.
Having already beaten Liverpool 6-4 on this drip, Potsdam would find things different against WG as Lewis took charge of a 5-1 victory.
The Wildcats watched Lewis push his team out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the second period, then score twice more to negate Potsdam's lone tally in the third period.
Overall, Lewis had three goals, his third hat trick of the season, and it pushed his season total to 16. Erich Haney fed him with two assists and scored, too, as Schattner got the other goal.
Not only did Michel earn two assists, he also anchored a ferocious Wildcat defense that kept Potsdam from getting too close. The visitors had just 13 shots. King, Nick Holzhauer and Shawn Lynch joined Michel and Haney in the assist column.
As usual, head coach Frank Colabufo rests his team during the holiday break, and games resume Jan. 5 against Fayetteville-Manlius at Shove Park before a key Jan. 9 trip to Oswego.