Now that it no longer had to worry about a perfect record or protecting a long win streak, the West Genesee ice hockey team could just relax and focus on the games - and perhaps create a new streak in the process.
As of now, that new win streak is at three, the key moment arriving Friday night at Shove Park when the Wildcats beat its neighbors from Solvay in a 5-2 decision.
Solvay (with team members from Jordan-Elbridge, Marcellus and Westhill) just joined Division I as part of the state-ordered realignment. Still, this would be the only time the two sides would meet in the regular season.
For two periods, it remained close, the defenses each making a wide series of stops. Rarely did either side break, but WG took a 1-0 lead, then traded goals in the next period as the outcome remained in doubt.
Finally, the Wildcats got away, using its depth to wear down Solvay as it scored three times in the third period. Shawn Lynch, with a goal and three assists, anchored the attack as Nick Holzhauer found the net twice. Erik Kurz and Josh Duquette also converted, with Cody Ryan adding two assists and John Sabert getting an assist, too.
As for the Bearcats, Tom Missert and Will Downs both scored, with David Graf, Tyler O'Mara and Ben Carrock earning assists. Ryan Bonk worked in goal and recorded 24 saves, twice that of WG counterpart Max Barone.
Making its debut in the revamped Division I ranks last Tuesday night, the Wildcats went to Cicero Twin Rinks and wasted little time taking over in a 7-0 shutout of Fayetteville-Manlius.
Before the first period was done, WG had already scored four times, more than what the defense needed. As had happened so many times in its 2009-10 state title run, WG's back line shut down any F-M attack, holding the Hornets to a mere seven shots on goal.