Feb 26, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
One minute – that’s all it took for the West Genesee ice hockey team to turn the possible end of its reign into a fourth consecutive Section III Division I championship.
In that 60-second sequence, the Wildcats scored a pair of power-play goals late in the third period, then held on through a dramatic – and controversial – final minute for a 2-1 victory over Rome Free Academy in Saturday’s Division I title game at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“It was a great game,” said head coach Frank Colabufo. “There is no quit in that locker room. Our kids knew that it (a comeback) was possible. They believed in each other and in our system.”
Maybe it was the venue. Nearly 12 months ago, on this same Utica Auditorium ice, WG trailed Suffern by two goals late in the third period of the state Division I semifinals, only to rally to tie it, then prevail in overtime on the way to the state title.
The circumstances were far less dire here, as the Wildcats only fell behind 1-0, the result of a second-period turnover that led to an RFA attack – and a rebound pushed home by freshman Seth McCormick, the first goal WG had allowed in the entire post-season.
Despite all kinds of chances to pull even, through the second period and deep into the third, WG could not get it past Black Knights goaltender Anthony D’Urso, who would finish the game with 28 saves.
With 4:53 left, WG looked to be in real trouble when Erik Kurz took a cross-checking penalty. Seconds later, though, RFA committed its own penalty and, 1:11 later, was penalized again, giving the Wildcats 19 seconds with a two-man advantage.
Just before that first penalty was to end, with 3:08 to play in regulation, Shawn Lynch pounded home the rebound of Kurz’s shot to tie it, 1-1, as Nick Holzhauer also earned the assist. Not only was it tied, 1-1, but WG still had the power play.
And exactly one minute later, with 2:08 left, John Sabert flashed open on the right side following crisp passes from Kurz and Robbie Michel, and his wrist shot flew past D’Urso into the top left corner of the net, putting the Wildcats in front.
Still, WG wasn’t clear. With less than a minute left, RFA sent in the extra attacker as D’Urso went to the bench. It seemed to pay off when, with 42.4 seconds to play, Max Bartell banged home a rebound shot.
However, it was ruled that the Black Knights had interfered with Wildcat goaltender Jake Pelton and that the net was dislodged before the puck went in the net. RFA players and fans loudly protested the call, but it stood, and WG held on for yet another sectional title.
Colabufo said the Wildcats’ fourth straight championship is as much a tribute to the youth hockey programs in Camillus as anything else, and serves as an inspiring example to younger players of what can be accomplished.