As it had blazed to an 18-1 start and won all nine of its league games, the West Genesee ice hockey had, again, established itself as the clear Division I championship favorites.
Now, though, it might not be as clear.
In its first head-to-head meeting with Ithaca last Saturday night at "The Rink", the Little Red jumped out in front early and stayed there, beating the Wildcats 3-1.
All this happened despite the usual puck control WG always seems to display. The Wildcats took 32 shots, to Ithaca's nine, yet ran into a hot goaltender as Zach Wilder made 31 saves on the Little Red's behalf.
Much of these chances came after Ithaca made the only big move it needed early in the first period. Tyler St. Denis scored to give the Little Red a 1-0 lead, then came back minutes later to assist on Chase Benjamin's tally to double that margin.
Wilder took over from there. He blanked WG in the first two periods and withstood several Wildcat power plays until Ryan Michel finally scored to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Instead of a rally, though, it only sparked Ithaca to make one more successful attack, Zach Hughes sending a slap shot past Evan Mazzoni for the clincher.
A night earlier, the Wildcats had blitzed Liverpool at State Fair Coliseum during a 10-1 romp.
It was 4-0 by the end of the first period, and the goals kept coming. Erich Haney served as an anchor, scoring twice and adding three assists as WG took 57 shots to Liverpool's 23.
Zach Lewis also had two goals, with Michel, Eric Mazzoni, D.J. Mazzoni, John Sabert and Cody Ryan also landing goals. Casey Schattner and Tim Bubnack both had two assists, with Adam King, P.J. Hart and Nate Haliwell also getting assists.
Even with the loss to Ithaca, WG still leads Division I with a 9-1 mark.
But Ithaca (7-1-2) looms in second place -- and could catch up this Friday night, when the Wildcats and Little Red get together in a rematch at Shove Park, which starts at 7:30.