All through this winter, the Baldwinsville ice hockey team has worked with steady and relentless drive, waiting to push its way back to the top of the Division I ranks, where West Genesee has stood.
It all led, in some way, to last Friday's showdown at Shove Park in Camillus, where the Bees took its shot at the Wildcats -- and just missed, falling in a 2-0 decision.
Their first meeting, way back on Dec. 2 at Lysander Arena, ended with WG in front, 5-1, but the Bees had followed by winning five consecutive league games, pushing itself into second place in Division I.
A large B'ville contingent, including a loud student section, came to Camillus to match the noise of the well-known West Genesee students to create a playoff atmosphere, more than a month before the actual post-season.
Both teams hit hard during a scoreless first period. Despite frequent Wildcat attacks, goalie Nick Leader, backed by defenders Mark Bellucci and Connor Bertrand, held up well, while B'ville had a fair share of chances, too.
This spilled over into the second period, where on several occasions the Bees just missed putting in the game's first goal, and rued those chances when WG did capitalize. Casey Schattner, on a rebound, put in a power-play goal midway through that period, and B'ville trailed 1-0.
Like so many other opponents, the Bees ran into a Wildcat defense that blocked shots and protected goalie Evan Mazzoni. Still, Mazzoni had to make 21 saves, the same number as Leader, and got more space to breathe when Adam King put in a rebound goal with 8:28 left.
Following the WG loss, B'ville (11-4-1) comes home Tuesday to face Liverpool and will play Cicero-North Syracuse Friday at the Twin Rinks.