For the second season in a row, the Skaneateles boys ice hockey team saw its chances at winning a Section III Division II championship slip away in the semifinal round.
Having last won the title in 2008, Skaneateles found itself at home last Wednesday night for the Division II semifinal against Cazenovia -- only to see those other Lakers dominate the flow of play throughout the evening and earn a 2-0 victory.
Cazenovia, like Skaneateles, got beat in last year's semifinal round (by Corcoran in overtime), so it came into the game with a lot of motivation to reverse that result.
A young, fast team (it has just one senior), Cazenovia quickly silenced the Skaneateles partisans in the overflow crowd at Allyn Arena.
Cazenovia established control of the proceedings in the first period, getting nine shots to the three that Skaneateles could muster, but not getting on the board.
It remained 0-0 until the 5:56 mark of the second period. Off a pass from Sam Lewis, Connor Cannizzaro saw his shot stopped by Skaneateles goalie Trevor Diamond - but the puck squirted out to the right, and Brian Gara put it home to give Cazenovia the lead.
As time went on, and Cazenovia's scoring chances piled up, the Skaneateles frustration grew, too, leading to back-to-back penalties late in the period and a two-man advantage for the visitors.
Taking full advantage, Cazenovia built the margin to two as Gara scored again, stationed at the left post and taking a perfect pass from Joe Nardella.
Though Cazenovia didn't add to the margin, it maintained the pressure the rest of the night. Were it not for Diamond's 32 saves and the strong defense anchored by Zach Augustine and Seth Weiss, it might have proved more lopsided.
Whenever it needed to, though, Cazenovia's defense, led by Nardella and Sean Cannizzaro, got in front of pucks and cleared it out, offering ample protection as goalie Mason Powell earned the shutout, having to make just nine saves all night.
So Cazenovia moves on to face New Hartford in the Division II final, while Skaneateles finishes with a mark of 16-5-1. Some key seniors, including Weiss, Augustine, Sean Cooney and Dylan Van Holtz depart, but standouts like Diamond, Packy Jones, Dan Tarolli and Jon Rogalia are set to come back next winter, trying again to put Skaneateles on top.