What the West Genesee ice hockey team tried so hard to do in a frustrating overtime defeat to the Syracuse Cougars - namely, score a goal - did happen Friday night, twice, in the first period of a key early-season showdown with Rome Free Academy at Kennedy Arena.
Still, it wasn't enough to upend the Black Knights, who went on to prevail 4-3, something it could not do against the Wildcats in either of the last two Section III Division I finals.
RFA entered the game as the lone remaining undefeated team in Section III. Not only had the Black Knights won each of its first six games, it had done so outscoring those foes by a combined margin of 37-5, though it included close calls against Central Square (2-1) and Cicero-North Syracuse (3-1).
Determined to change that, and let out the frustrations of the Syracuse loss, WG would grab a pair of first-period goals, only to have RFA counter with its own two goals, leaving them in a 2-2 tie through one frame.
The second period proved crucial. Though the Wildcats' defense started to tighten, the Black Knights didn't allow anything and, more importantly, sneaked into a 3-2 lead.
Much of the third period remained at that juncture until RFA's Joey Rutkowski, who already had two assists on the night, delivered on what looked like an insurance goal with four minutes to play.
But that turned out to be the game-winner because WG, with an extra attacker, found the net with 4.7 seconds left, too late to get closer.
Robbie Michel, David Procopio and Grainger Sasso earned the Wildcats' goals, with Ryan McDonald adding a pair of assists. But WG only had 13 shots overall, nine less than the Black Knights as Tyler Williams, Nick Mecca and Drew DeBlasiis joined Rutkowski in the goal-scoring column.