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Hockey Wildcats lose in OT to Syracuse Cougars

WG stymied by Albright's 45 saves in net

Syracuse Cougars goalie Jim Albright (29) makes a sliding save on a shot by West Genesee’s Corey Raaflub (16) in last Wednesday night’s game at Shove Park.  Albright’s 45 saves helped carry the Cougars to a 1-0 overtime victory over the Wildcats.

Syracuse Cougars goalie Jim Albright (29) makes a sliding save on a shot by West Genesee’s Corey Raaflub (16) in last Wednesday night’s game at Shove Park. Albright’s 45 saves helped carry the Cougars to a 1-0 overtime victory over the Wildcats. Scott Schild

— Back home at Shove Park following a 3-0 road swing, the West Genesee ice hockey team went out Wednesday night and dominated the Syracuse Cougars, taking nearly six times as many shots as the newly-formed entry that includes former members of the Solvay squad.

And the Wildcats lost.

Westhill senior Jim Albright's spectacular, career-best effort in the net helped send a one-sided affair all the way into overtime before Matt Thompson, with a bit of help, delivered a stunning 1-0 victory.

That they were even in OT was entirely a tribute to Albright and a Cougars team that refused to get down on itself despite entering the game on a two-game skid thanks to losses to Liverpool and Fayetteville-Manlius.

Meanwhile, WG had won four in a row overall. The only possible caveat was that it had not scored more than four goals in any of those victories, so the offense remained a unit that could produce plenty of chances, but not always capitalize on them.

That proved true, to a real extreme, on this night. Right from the opening face-off, the Wildcats controlled the flow of play, constantly moving the puck into Syracuse's end and waiting for the inevitable moment when that pressure translated into a go-ahead goal.

But it stayed 0-0 through one period. WG continued to press in the second period, at one point gaining a two-man advantage on the Cougars. Again, Albright turned them away, shot after shot finding his glove or his pads.

As the tension in the scoreless deadlock grew in the third period, Syracuse rarely broke out of its own end to relieve Albright. Still, the Cougars' defenders kept their cool, and Albright continued piling up the saves - 45 of them in all.

Instead of a fifth consecutive win and total confidence going into Friday's sectional finals rematch with Rome Free Academy at Kennedy Arena, WG found itself playing overtime, but not for long.

Just 2:01 into the extra period, Syracuse's Matt Thompson found himself behind WG's net as part of a rare Cougar attack. Thompson moved the puck to the front of the net - and as he did, it clipped off the skate of Wildcats goalie Henry Burns and slid past the goal line to end it.

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