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Wildcats are state hockey champions

Even with all that took place in the championship game, what happened the day before in the semifinals will be remembered as long as there is a West Genesee hockey program.

Down by two goals with less than 40 seconds to play, staring once again at the bitter end to a beautiful season, the Wildcats somehow rallied, forced overtime and beat Suffern 4-3 on Casey Schattner's goal 4:24 into the extra period.

Great as WG was playing with its unbeaten mark, Suffern entered the Frozen Four riding its own hot streak, to the tune of 22 wins in a row, including a victory over state no. 2-ranked Williamsville North in the regional finals.

As fits a game with such high stakes, both sides battled for position through much of the first period before Schattner, off a feed from Shawn Lynch, poked in a goal 1:36 before intermission to put WG ahead 1-0.

Suffern would answer in the second period, the Mounties tying it on Justin Goetz's tip of a Steve Scholer shot, then pulling in front 2-1 when Kevin Norwin's slap shot beat Anthony Militello.

It would get worse. Another deflection, this one off Bubnack's stick, allowed Willie Baker to score 2:19 into the third period, and now the Wildcats trailed 3-1.

Rarely had WG been behind the entire season, as it usually would get a big early scoring burst, then lean on its air-tight defense to take care of the rest.

Now, though, the situation was dire. Suffern resisted every Wildcat turn and, as the clock ticked under two minutes, WG pulled Militello for the extra attacker, something that hadn't been done (or needed) all season.

Nothing happened immediately - but with 31 seconds to play, Zach Lewis took a pass from Bubnack and beat Mounties goalie Tyler Stark, making it 3-2. Now there was a chance.

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