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Liverpool, CNS hockey take opening losses

Perhaps off its rhythm due to a lack of practice time during the week (the snow had a lot to do with that), the Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse ice hockey teams both absorbed weekend defeats.

The Warriors are coming off a 4-14-1 season where it missed the Division I playoffs. Trying to turn things around, Liverpool turned to a new head coach, Mark Benedetto, who has said his players' approach to the game, and relationship with each other, has changed.

Now the Warriors had to see if that could translate into on-ice success in a revamped Division I. State-mandated changes to the enrollment structure meant an expansion of the ranks and a split into two divisions.

Liverpool and CNS are in Division I-A with defending state Division I champion West Genesee, plus Ithaca, Corcoran, Central Square, Ontario Bay and Hamilton. Division I-B features Baldwinsville, Cortland-Homer, Fayetteville-Manlius, Rome Free Academy, Solvay, Utica Proctor and Watertown IHC.

The biggest offshoot of this change is that the Division I teams will only play each other once in the regular season, ending the old system of home-and-home league games. Also, eight of the 14 teams will qualify for the playoffs.

With this as backdrop, Liverpool played Corcoran in Friday's snow-delayed opener at State Fair Coliseum and saw its defense get picked apart in a 6-3 loss to the Cougars.

Trailing 2-0, the Warriors got back in the game in the second period as Jeff Conese scored twice and Jordan Iannolo also converted. Zach Vivenzo and Ryan Gallardo earned assists.

Still, the Cougars stayed in front, 4-3, and pulled away late with a barrage of shots. Joe Ciciarelli made 50 saves, but could not keep everything out as Corcoran's Derek Eccles used a three-goal hat trick to lead his side.

A day later, it was CNS's turn to hit the ice as it looked to improve on last year's 6-13-1 mark. And though its offense clicked at Ithaca, it still lost 6-4 to the Little Red.

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