Cazenovia hockey has first-ever state no. 1 ranking

No, it doesn't equate to winning a sectional or state championship - but the Cazenovia ice hockey team still reached a huge milestone in the waning days of 2010.

When the first state Division II rankings were released, it was the Lakers on top for the first time in the program's history, its 5-0 start enough to impress the voters.

As always, a top ranking also means a bigger target for opponents to shoot at - but when the Lakers went to the Cortland/Homer Tournament during the holiday break, no one would come close to catching them.

In Tuesday's opening round, the Lakers faced Frontier, a Section VI school from the southern suburbs of Buffalo, and unleashed its best offensive effort of the season in a 10-3 romp over the Falcons.

Already ahead 2-0, Cazenovia dazzled the crowd in the second period by finding the net five times, a barrage that Frontier could not possibly answer.

Brian Gara and Sam Lewis both had career outings, as Gara piled up five goals and three assists and, somehow, Lewis got the other five goals, a personal beset. As the help, Connor Cannizzaro earned three assists, with Joe Nardella adding two assists. Joe Colligan, Cullen Franz and Cameron Brathan had one assist apiece.

This sent the Lakers into Wednesday's championship game against Cortland-Homer, the hosts having survived Utica Proctor 1-0 in the other part of the opening round.

Knowing how hard the Golden Eagles had to work just to reach the finals, Cazenovia pushed the tempo from the opening face-off - resulting in a big early lead and, ultimately, a 6-2 victory and the first-place trophy.

Just as with Frontier, the Lakers bounced out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. And just like the day before, the Lakers made the second period decisive, this time outscoring Cortland-Homer 3-1 to secure its ultimate winning margin.

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