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Hockey Wildcats beaten by Suffern, 3-1

Nothing can top perfection - which is what the West Genesee ice hockey team pulled off in 2009-10.

Twenty-five teams, that special group of Wildcats took the ice. All 25 times, they left victorious, not conquered once as WG claimed the State Division I championship in Utica, capping it off with a 3-0 shutout of Saratoga Springs.

Once it was done, head coach Frank Colabufo had to deal with the next chapter - how to replace nine departed seniors, including the great defensive tandem of Ryan Michel and Tim Bubnack, plus Zach Lewis, Adam King, Erich Haney, Casey Schattner and goaltender Anthony Militello.

Also, WG had to deal with a realignment of Section III hockey that radically altered - and enlarged the Division I ranks. All sorts of teams moved up, and the Wildcats were placed into Division I-A with Central Square, Cicero-North Syracuse, Corcoran, Hamilton, Ontario Bay, Liverpool and Ithaca.

Division I-B, meanwhile, has Baldwinsville, Cortland-Homer, Fayetteville-Manlius, Rome Free Academy, Solvay, Utica Proctor and Watertown IHC. The enlarged division means that league teams will play each other only once in the regular season, and the top eight will advance to the playoffs.

With all this as background, the Wildcats were set to open the season earlier this week against two of the Division I newcomers - Central Square and Watertown IHC - but both games were snowed out.

Thus, WG had no choice but to play its first games against elite foes in the Wildcat Classic at Shove Park - and it was here that any far-flung dream of another undefeated season got swept away.

The Wildcats did make it through a tough opening-round game against Niagara-Wheatfield (Section VI), beating the Falcons 2-1 for its 26th consecutive victory.

Ryan LaVallee's goal in the first period put WG on the board, but it was a 1-1 tie when, just 29 seconds into the second period, Shawn Lynch, the Wildcats' top returning scorer from last season, put in the go-ahead goal.

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