Once again, the Baldwinsville ice hockey team is a single victory away from the Section III Division I championship. And once again, the colossus known as West Genesee stands in the way of that dream.
The Bees will clash with the Wildcats next Friday at 7 p.m. in the title game at Allyn Arena in Skaneateles, exactly a year removed from WG prevailing in the 2009 title game at the Syracuse War Memorial.
Getting there was not easy on B'ville's part. It required a full effort in last Friday's Division I semifinal against Oswego, as the Bees inched past the Buccaneers 3-2 in front of the home fans at Lysander Arena.
It was expected to be close, since B'ville and Oswego split their two regular-season meetings, both sides winning at home. The Bees prevailed 3-0 on Dec. 22, but the Bucs rebounded to take the rematch 2-0 on Feb. 11, just eight days before the decisive playoff showdown.
Both teams took lots of shots in the first period, but only B'ville found the net, pulling ahead 1-0. An exchange of tallies followed in the second period, with Brett Earle and Sam Lane earning the goals that kept the Bees in front and Connor Bertrand adding two assists.
Oswego tied it, 2-2, early in the third period, but Mike McElwain answered with his own goal midway through the frame, and now B'ville had to hang on.
In fact, the Bees were in a defensive mode often on this night, as Oswego kept pushing, yet only got goals from Fred Donabella and Rick Uribe. Mark Miller stopped 39 of the 41 shots he faced.
So now comes the Bees' third shot this season at West Genesee, whose record has improved to 21-0. The previous two meetings on Dec. 1 and Jan. 15, ended 8-0 and 4-0 in the Wildcats' favor, and WG routed Liverpool 8-1 in the semifinals to get this far.