Feb 23, 2012 Kris Russell Uncategorized
Cooly efficient, West Genesee shut out Fayetteville-Manlius, 2-0, Wednesday night in the Section III Division I ice hockey semifinal at Shove Park.
The No.1 state-ranked Wildcats got second period goals from Jon Lauer and David Procopio and let its vaunted defense and goaltending do the rest, as goaltender Jacob Pelton needed only 14 saves to post the shutout, WG’s 14th of the season.
The Wildcats’ win sets up a dream sectional championship game Saturday afternoon at 3:30 against Rome Free Academy. WG will bring a 22-0 record into the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Black Knights are 21-1.
Adding to the game’s mystery and aura, the pair didn’t meet in the regular season. They last squared off in the 2011 sectional final in Utica, where the Wildcats scored a pair of goals late in the third period to snare a 2-1 win.
“I think Saturday you’re going to see exactly what you saw a year ago,” Wildcat coach Frank Colabufo said. “Two teams that are very disciplined, that work very, very hard, that skate very well, that have good goaltending (and) are committed to defense. You’re going to see some great defensemen in that game.
“There’s not much difference between the two of us,” Colabufo added. “I think it’s going to be an outstanding high school hockey game.”
Colabufo’s defenders didn’t have much to do in the second and third periods against F-M. The no. 3 seed Hornets, who piled up seven goals in its first-round playoff win over Cicero-North Syracuse on Feb. 17, manged only six shots over the final 30 minutes. F-M played its best hockey in the opening stanza, outshooting the hosts, 8-4.
“That’s the frustrating part for us,” Hornets coach Sean Brown said. “We had chances out there. They scored on their chances and we did not. A 2-0 game with (West Genesee) … that’s right where we wanted to be, giving ourselves a chance.”
After generating a flurry of shots to open the second period, the Wildcats finally solved F-M goalie Ben Napierala, who had 27 saves on the night. Lauer latched on to a long Robbie Michel pass, broke in on Napierala, and fired home the puck while being tripped by a Hornets defenseman.
Lauer’s goal came at the 3:01 mark of the period. Procopio added the vital insurance marker seven minutes later.
After some good forechecking in the F-M end, the puck worked its way out to Matt Schattner. The WG defenseman sent a waist high wrist shot toward the Hornet net. Procopio tipped it in. Erik Kurz joined Schattner in getting assists.
Colabufo said the game was the kind of test his team needed prior to Saturday’s title contest.
“That felt like a playoff game,” he said. “It was a physical, hard-fought game. Every puck was contested, (and so was) every inch of ice. It was hard-nosed on both sides.
“F-M had a game plan. They came in and played great,” Colabufo said. “They gave us everything that we could handle.”