Whatever concerns that arose when the Cazenovia ice hockey team lost its Nov. 30 season opener to CBA/J-D have quickly been cast aside.
The Lakers are meeting its own high expectations and gliding into the Division II race again, as evidenced by Friday night's 3-2 victory over Oswego in the home opener at the Morrisville State College IcePlex.
Oswego arrived at the IcePlex with a 2-0 record and knew a win here would provide a large step toward a possible league title.
And for a while, the Buccaneers' plans panned out, as it defended well in the first period and notched a goal, leaving Cazenovia behind 1-0 and wondering if its attack had gone cold again.
Soon, those fears would dissipate. In the pivotal second period, the Lakers shut down Oswego while, at the same time, waged an all-out attack that resulted in three consecutive goals.
A.J. Davis and Alan Baldwin each scored and contributed an assist. Brian Gara managed the other goal, with Connor Race, Jeff Stowell, Billy Rankin and David Marshall also getting credit for assists.
Now up 3-1, Cazenovia held on as Oswego closed within one in the third period, but could not pull back even and force overtime. Joey Vechiarrelli had a solid effort in the net, finishing with 18 saves. Dan Ryan and Zach Zerrahn earned Oswego's goals.
Stewing for nearly a week after that CBA/J-D loss, the Lakers started the turnaround when it went to Clinton last Tuesday night and used a fast start to push its way to a 3-1 victory over the Warriors.
It was the first time the two had met since last February’s Section III Division II final at Utica Memorial Auditorium, a 6-0 Cazenovia rout that proved the springboard to an eventual state title.
Now they met again, at historic Clinton Arena, normally a difficult place for any visitor. But even so many new faces on the ice, the Lakers had no trouble, bolting out to a 2-0 lead by the time the first period was done.
Clinton prevented the shutout, scoring in the second period. But Cazenovia got a goal, too, and spent the rest of the contest keeping the Warriors from making it close.
Gara led that early surge and finished with two goals, while Stowell notched the other tally and Cannizzaro added an assist. Vecchiarelli stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced.
On Tuesday night, Cazenovia faces another big Division II test when it visits Allyn Arena to take on Skaneateles, which precedes next Friday's home game against New Hartford.