WG hockey blanks Liverpool, goes to sectional final

Perhaps that whole late-season slump the West Genesee ice hockey went through was an elaborate ruse, designed to let challengers to its Section III Division I throne believe that the defending champions were, perhaps, vulnerable at the worst possible time.

If that is the case, it sure did work.

Well-rested, skating on home ice and roaring from the moment the puck dropped, the Wildcats made quick and efficient work of Liverpool in a 7-0 shutout during last Friday night's Division I semifinals at Shove Park.

With that win, WG advanced to this Sunday's sectional final at 3:30 at the Onondaga County War Memorial against Baldwinsville, who edged past Fayetteville-Manlius 2-1 in the other semifinal.

WG had not played since beating Auburn on Feb. 10 to clinch the Division I regular-season title. That meant a good 10 days to heal injuries and get just the right amount of practice time to stay sharp and in prime condition.

Meanwhile, Liverpool had beaten Oswego 3-1 in last Tuesday's opening round, and came to Camillus bent on avenging two regular-season defeats to the Wildcats. But it wouldn't get close.

A quick start helped, as WG scored twice in the opening period and continually controlled the puck. By the end of the second period, the margin had doubled, to 4-0, and the Wildcats kept adding to the margin, not letting up even though the game was well in hand.

Erich Haney provided the focal point for the Wildcats' offense, scoring twice and adding a pair of assists as he got all kinds of teammates involved.

Ryan Michel, in addition to anchoring the defense to its 13th shutout of the season, had one goal and one assist. Brady Fremont, Adam King, John Shabert and Seamus Shanley all scored, too, with Eric Mazzoni, D.J. Mazzoni, Matt Schattner and Ryan McConnell each earning assists. Evan Mazzoni only had to make 10 saves.

After another week of hard work, WG will battle B'ville for the championship. They met twice in the regular season, with the Wildcats winning an impressive 5-1 romp Dec. 1 in Lysander, then a tougher 2-0 rematch on Jan. 16 at Shove Park. A third win will be required if WG wants to repeat.

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