In reality, the Cazenovia ice hockey team's 2010-11 season began more than nine months ago, at Utica Memorial Auditorium, right about the time that Alex Fukes' breakway overtime goal sailed past Mason Powell into the net to give New Hartford the Section III Division II championship.
Ever since then (and ever since the Spartans went on to capture the state title), the Lakers have focused all of its energies on returning to the sectional final and having a different ending. It helps, in that quest, to have most of last year's roster back, including a high-flying attack anchored by the likes of Sean Cannizzaro, Connor Cannizzaro, Sam Lewis, Joe Nardella and Brian Gara.
That focus has not been deterred by the massive realignment taking place within local Division II hockey. State-mandated reclassification sent many of the previous Division II squads, including league rivals Hamilton, Rome Free Academy and Utica Proctor, up to Division I.
The Lakers stayed, though, in a Division II that now features Auburn and Oswego to go with the likes of New Hartford, Whitesboro, Clinton, Skaneateles and CBA/J-D. And the smaller league assures that each team will face each other twice in home-and-home settings during the regular season. Six teams will advance to the playoffs.
With all that in mind, Cazenovia had to wait out the big snowstorm in the first full week of December before opening its season Saturday, at Onondaga Nation Arena, where its attack was on full display in a 6-1 romp over the Brothers.
Steady, relentless pressure produced two goals in each period as the Lakers pulled clear of CBA/J-D and took 45 shots before it was done. All the while, Powell was sensational against the Brothers, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced.
Sean Cannizzaro and Lucas Catania each found the net twice, while Nardella produced three assists. Lewis and Gara each had one goal and one assist, with Connor Cannizzaro landing two assists and Alan Baldwin also getting an assist.
Now a big week of action awaits the Lakers. First, it meets Clinton (off to a 2-0 start) in Tuesday's home opener at the Morrisville State IcePlex, then it heads north to Crisafulli Rink (better known as "The Fort) to play Oswego on Friday - and all the Buccaneers have done is win its first three games, two of them in league play.