No longer is the Cicero-North Syracuse ice hockey team an easy mark for more-established opponents in local Division I play – but opening-week results indicate that much work remains, especially on the defensive end.
The Northstars broke out in 2010-11, going 13-8-1 and making it all the way to the Section III semifinals before falling to Rome Free Academy.
With first-team All-Star defenseman Kyler Schililng back, along with second-team forward Eric Hamilton, CNS returns to a slightly altered Division I setup.
A year after realignment, Division I’s 13 teams were split into two sides. CNS joins RFA, Watertown IHC, Ontario Bay, Central Square and Hamilton in the East division, while West Genesee, Liverpool, Baldwinsville, Cortland-Homer, Solvay, Fayetteville-Manlius and Corcoran play in the West division.
In the unaccustomed role of league favorite, the Northstars would play on back-to-back nights. CNS started its season with a dominant effort at the Twin Rinks, smashing Cortland-Homer by a score of 9-2.
Steadily, the Northstars built a 5-2 lead through two periods and more than doubled the margin in the final period, mostly thanks to Hamilton, who tore up the Golden Eagles for five goals.
Jesse Farabee and Connor Doren each had three assists, while Matt Kennedy got two assists. Farabee, Matt Fiume, Danny Rush and Nick Schneid earned one goal apiece, while Schilling joined Fiume in the assist column. Goalie Alex Johnston stopped 18 of 20 shots.
Encouraging as that was, the Northstars were humbled 24 hours later in Lysander, beaten 10-5 by Baldwinsville at Greater B’ville Ice Arena.
Hamilton would notch another hat trick, with three goals and one assist, as CNS kept up with the Bees in the early going. But B’ville broke out of a 3-3 tie in the second period with four unanswered goals, and the Northstars never caught up.
Farabee and Doren managed CNS’s other goals, with Schilling, Rush and Justin Tyler picking up assists. Johnston managed 25 saves before Brandon Gloska (seven saves) replaced him late. Nine different B’ville players scored, with only Parker Ferrigan finding the net twice.
CNS will spend most of next week working on those defensive issues, only playing once, against Ontario Bay Wednesday night at the Twin Rinks.