A familiar routine is establishing itself around Shove Park as the West Genesee ice hockey team continues to fine-tune itself before the quest for back-to-back state Division I championships hits a higher gear.
That routine includes impressive wins over anyone that dares to invade the Wildcats' space atop the standings - as Corcoran tried to do Monday night. Led by a hat trick from senior captain Nick Holzhauer, WG shut out the Cougars 8-0.
Corcoran entered the night with a 6-1-1 mark in Division I, tied for second place with Cicero-North Syracuse. But the Cougars were without its top player, Derrek Eccles, who injured his knee late in December. Diagnosed with a torn MCL, Eccles is not set to return until the end of the month.
Without him, Corcoran only managed a handful of shots on this night, rarely making WG goaltender Jake Pelton work that hard. It helped that the Wildcats' quartet of top defenders - Robbie MIchel, R.J. Tinklepaugh, Matt Schattner and Cody Ryan - flicked away the puck any time it entered their end.
Despite a 12-3 shot advantage, WG did not score in the first period - but in a brief span early in the second period, Holzhauer took over.
Holzhauer put the Wildcats on the board 2:48 into the period when he flashed open and poured home a rebound of Ryan's shot before Corcoran goalie Gavin Gretzky could react. Just 25 seconds later, Holzhauer got on a breakaway and beat Gretzky again to make it 2-0.
If that didn't discourage the Cougars, then Shawn Lynch ripping home a wrist shot with 27.5 seconds left in the second period pulled the trick. That made it 3-0, and set up a third-period blitz.
Early in that frame, Holzhauer gained his hat trick on another fast-break conversion as Lynch added a second goal and John Sabert somehow converted with a shot from the right corner. Tommy Hanley and Jason Keyes also converted in the final minutes.
This blitz carried over into the Wildcats' game against Fayetteville-Manlius 24 hours later as WG hit double digits in a 10-0 destruction of the Hornets.
The Wildcats' main highlight was a second period where it hurt F-M with six goals. Josh Duquette had a three-goal hat trick as Holzhauer got two goals and two assists and Lynch also found the net twice. Sabert, Jimmy Sauda and Matt Skrupa each had one goal and one assist as Tinklepaugh, Michel and Ryan earned two assists apiece.