Cicero-North Syracuse's ice hockey team worked plenty during the holiday break, and it further enforced just how much things have improved as it won three times in five days.
The Northstars went to Auburn last Monday night and did well in each phase of the game to put together a 3-0 shutout of the Maroons.
For a long while, it was close, CNS only leading 1-0 through two periods as Auburn goalie Jeff Gardner worked his way to 31 saves.
However, the Northstars got away in the final minutes, scoring twice. Best of all, it didn't have to rely on Brian Hamilton, as it had so many other times this season, as Nick Hall, Matt Kennedy and Eric Hamilton got the goals. Jake Farabee joined Brian Hamilton in the assist column as Zach Hall stopped all 19 shots he faced.
Back home on Wednesday, CNS met Central Square and, with its offense back in high gear, ripped past the Red Hawks 9-3.
A three-goal first-period burst proved nice, but with the Hamilton brothers again in the lead, CNS really took off late, burning Central Square for five goals in the third period.
At game's end, Eric Hamilton had four goals and one assist, with Brian Hamilton contributing two goals and three assists. Matt Flume contributed three assists as Farabee, Nick Schneid and Nick Hall also scored. Kennedy and Josh Vivenzio earned one assist apiece.
On New Year's Eve, CNS added a bit more drama, beating Fulton 5-4 in overtime. The Red Raiders erased the Northstars' 4-2 third-period lead to force overtime, but the visitors still pulled it out in the extra period.
Farabee and Brian Hamilton both finished with two goals and one assist. Eric Hamilton had one goal and one assist as Kennedy, Nick Hall and Kyler Schilling added assists. Each of Zach Hall's 36 saves proved important.
For the season, CNS is 5-1-1, and its 3-0-1 mark in Division I puts it right with West Genesee behind Cortland/Homer and Corcoran in a tight race for first place going into games this week against Rome Free Academy and Penfield.