Hockey Lakers denied by New Hartford again

This time around, the Cazenovia ice hockey team figured it would be different.

When the state Division II no. 3-ranked Lakers collided with no. 1-ranked New Hartford last Tuesday night at the Morrisville State IcePlex, it was a chance to snatch a piece of the Division II East regular-season title -- and some revenge.

Back on Jan. 14 in New Hartford, the Spartans prevailed 6-3, knocking Cazenovia out of first place and the top spot in the state rankings. The Lakers had since won seven in a row, regaining its confidence, and were ready for the rematch.

Yet after all that preparation and good play, Cazenovia again tasted defeat at New Hartford's expense -- and again, the margin was 6-3, though the sequence of events leading to that decision was a bit different than the first time.

They exchanged goals early in the first period, and it was 1-1, Cazenovia content to ride along for a while and match thrusts.

All that changed, though, when the Lakers got whistled for a delayed penalty and, with 4:02 left in the first period, Spencer Davidson scored to pull New Hartford in front 2-1.

Just 39 seconds later, the Spartans made it 3-1 when Jason Fitzgerald converted. Right after the ensuing faceoff, Mike Zalewski broke in alone and put the puck past J.R. Veccharelli and it was 4-1.

New Hartford had just scored three times in a span of 59 seconds, the kind of outburst that can prove decisive. And though Cazenovia closed the margin to 4-2 before the end of the first period, it would never get closer.

Carter Franz, Sean Dougherty and Sam Lewis put in the Lakers' goals, with Sean Cannizzaro getting two assists and Franz adding one assist. Overall, Vecchiarelli had 21 saves. For the Spartans, Clayton Whittenmore had two goals and one assist, with Tom Fiorentino picking up one goal and two assists.

Cazenovia is 18-2-1, and both losses have come to New Hartford, but it will still be home next Friday to face Solvay or Skaneateles in the first round of the Division II playoffs.

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