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Hockey Lakers survive four-OT playoff epic

Deep into a cruel winter evening, the Skaneateles ice hockey team worked to save its season against Rome Free Academy in Friday night's opening round of the Section III Division II playoffs at Allyn Arena.

Through a comeback in regulation, then through three scoreless overtime periods, the Lakers skated on against the Black Knights, clinging to the defense of its sectional title.

Finally, in the fourth overtime, with a possible shoot-out looming, the Lakers' Kyle Christine ended the marathon, scoring to win it, 3-2, sending Skaneateles into Wednesday night's Division II semifinal against state no. 1-ranked New Hartford.

Skaneateles had worked hard down the regular-season homestretch to snatch second place in Division II West from Solvay and earn a home playoff date. As it turned out, it almost didn't matter.

RFA, vastly improved this season after years in the Division II East basement, inched out in front 1-0 in the first period, and that would be the only goal for either side in the first two periods as the defenses, for the most part, kept on making solid stops.

Sensing things were slipping away, Sean Cooney stepped up in the third period, as the Lakers forward twice put shots past Black Knights goaltender Mike Endres. This counteracted an RFA goal and left the two sides in a 2-2 tie.

In the regular season, overtime is just one five-minute period before a tie is declared. That changes in the playoffs, as they get as much of a chance as possible to settle matters.

Each OT period is seven minutes, 30 seconds. The first one passed without a goal, as did the second, and the third, the tension building with each failed opportunity to end the affair. Trevor Diamond proved superb, earning 31 saves, while Endres kept on fending off the Lakers' rushes as he stopped 40 shots.

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