Girls hockey Lakers beaten in state semis

In the ideal scenario, the Skaneateles girls ice hockey team would thrill the home fans by claiming the New York State Girls Varsity Hockey championship.

However, Oswego had different intentions - and showed them in one dynamic burst that made the difference as the Lakers lost, 3-0, in Friday night's state semifinals at the Community Center.

All the efforts to promote the state "Frozen Four" paid off in a big way, as a large crowd jammed into Allyn Arena, with loud partisans on both sides punctuating the event through cheers and even horns.

Skaneateles and Oswego knew each other from two regular-season meetings, which they had split. The Lakers prevailed 4-0 on Dec. 29, but the Buccaneers won the rematch 3-2 in overtime. In both instances, the road team won.

Now came the third and most important encounter, and attention quickly turned to two standouts - Skaneateles goaltender Alex Brown and Oswego forward Tayler Cianfarano.

Entering the contest, Cianfarano, just an eighth-grader, had 53 goals in 19 games, two of them in the Bucs' state quarterfinal win over Ithaca. Brown had emerged as the league's top netminder, proving it again by stopping 27 of 28 shots in the Lakers' 2-1 conquest of Potsdam in that same round.

Skaneateles drew an early power play, but could not convert. In fact, it managed just two shots in the first period, during which time Oswego got all the offense it needed.

It started, naturally, with Cianfarano, who at the 6:35 mark took the puck on her own blueline, maneuvered down the boards, then moved to the center of the ice and, approaching the net, flung a backhand shot past Brown to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead.

Barely two minutes later, Oswego's Kaitlin Friel forced a turnover right in front of the Lakers' net, and Cianfarano swooped in and drilled a wrist shot home, making it 2-0.

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