Dec 02, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For 15 frantic minutes, the West Genesee ice hockey team waged an all-out attack on Suffern, trying to rescue the championship game of the annual Wildcat Classic last Saturday night at Shove Park.
But the surge came too late, as the defending state Division I champion Mounties gained control in the first two periods, and it proved enough to beat the Wildcats 4-2.
Going in, the game’s primary draw was the fact that it was a rematch of last March’s epic, four-overtime state semifinal at Utica Auditorium, where Suffern, in a a penalty shoot-out, outlasted West Genesee on the way to its second state title to match the other one it claimed in 1992.
Of course, the stakes were not the same this time around. And the two teams have changed drastically due to graduations and other departures, especially that of the Wildcats, who have plenty of new faces on the ice still learning to work with each other.
WG did beat Fairport 3-1 in the opening round on Friday after trailing 1-0 in the opening period. The title game had a similar narrative, as 4:11 into the first period Suffern captain Anthony Carudo fluttered a shot that eluded goalie Henry Burns and found the net.
Heavy pressure late in the first period led to some scoring chances for the Wildcats, but it could get nothing past new Mounties goalie Nick Modica, so it stayed 1-0 at the intermission.
Less than a minute into the second period, Suffern made it 2-0 as Nick Jaeger, on a delayed penalty call, shoved a loose puck in the crease just past Burns’ reach.
The game’s real turning point took place midway through the period. WG had a five-on-three power play and all sorts of shots. Once more, Modica turned them away, and seconds after the teams returned to even strength, a Wildcat turnover led to Justin Tiso’s goal that extended Suffern’s margin to 3-0.
To complete this Mounties blitz, Robert Clark found the net on a power play in the last minute of the period, and WG found itself down 4-0, the sort of deficit it has rarely faced during its five-year Section III title reign, and almost never on home ice.
Perhaps that knowledge lit a fire under the young Wildcats, who took control of the game right at the start of the third period, finally getting on the board with captain Robbie Michel’s wrist shot from the point with 12:46 left. David Procopio and Aaron Jones earned assists.
Then Tommy Hanley cut the margin to two with 5:35 left off feeds from Nate Colabufo and Jake O’Donnell, giving the hosts plenty of time to make up the rest of the deficit.
Sure enough, WG maintained the pressure the rest of the way, finishing with 17 shots in the period. And while it did not get any closer, the Wildcats left the ice feeling better and knowing what it can do when it plays at its best.
WG opens Division I play Wednesday night, hosting Liverpool, and goes to Cortland-Homer two nights later.