SYRACUSE A long tradition came to a painful, but necessary end when Solvay ended its backing of an ice hockey team that featured players from across the western suburbs.
All of them were able to make their way to Corcoran, and they joined forces on a team now called the Syracuse Cougars, who will play home games at Meachem Rink.
This new outfit had a strong debut last Wednesday night against Cortland-Homer, as Cam Bennett’s natural hat trick fueled a 5-3 victory over the Golden Eagles.
It was only fitting that a host of players that once wore Solvay’s orange-and-blue colors made the biggest impact for the Cougars.
That included Bennett, from Bishop Ludden. In the first 15 minutes, he peppered Cortland-Homer for all three of his team’s goals, as Syracuse seized a 3-1 lead.
Though Cortland-Homer would do a better job on the defensive side in the remaining two periods, Syracuse still remained in front as two more ex-Solvay players, Nate Carr (Solvay) and Pat Farrell (Westhill), earned those goals. Carr also had two assists, the same as Kyler Wilbur, with Jared Ristoff and Liam Barry earning one assist apiece.
Further enforcing the impact of the newcomers, Westhill’s Jimmy Albright played the entire game in goal, stopping 27 of the 30 shots he faced.
Albright would step up even more when Syracuse went to Lysander Arena for the annual Robert Conklin Memorial Tournament on the weekend.
In last Friday’s opening round against host Baldwinsville, the Cougars prevailed in a tense, low-scoring contest not decided until a shoot-out.
For two periods, neither side could score. Then Syracuse got on the board with Ben Walsh’s unassisted goal, but B’ville’s Matt Abbott converted, too, leaving it at 1-1.
Neither team would score in overtime, the Bees constantly thwarted by Albright, who amassed 46 saves. So it would get settled in a penalty shoot-out. And the Cougars prevailed, Matt Thompson beating Nick Harper for the decisive goal.