Three long hours after it started, West Genesee's ice hockey team trudged off the ice of Utica Memorial Auditorium, its dream of a fourth state Division I championship denied in the most painful of manners.
The Wildcats and Suffern endured 45 minutes of regulation and four overtime periods in Saturday's state Division I semifinal, not resolving anything until a shoot-out, when the Mounties converted twice to finally prevail.
This was a rematch of the 2010 state semifinal, a game no one on either side ever forgot. Back then, WG erased a two-goal deficit in the final 31 seconds of regulation and prevailed 4-3 in overtime on the way to a perfect season and state title.
Suffern had those memories to deal with, but also knew that it had played the Wildcats close in a 3-2 contest at Shove Park in early December, as close a call as WG has faced this winter on the way to a 24-0 mark and no. 1 state ranking.
Wasting little time, the Wildcats took advantage of a power play and, just 2:25 into the game, took a 1-0 lead when Jimmy Sauda put home a rebound of Robbie Michel's shot. R.J. Tinklepaugh also had an assist.
The Mounties recovered, gained its own power play and, at the 7:20 mark of the first period, pulled even on Jon Redgate's goal. And it would remain 1-1 for a while.
During the second period, Suffern did not have a single direct shot on net. Overall, WG out-shot them 16-4 over the course of the first two periods, but stellar work by Mounties goalie Tyler Stark kept the game deadlocked.
Then WG picked up a pair of penalties that, in the opening seconds of the third period, left them two men down. Suffern took advantage of the five-on-three chance, Willie Sanchez firing a shot past Jake Pelton with 14:21 to play.