Jan 06, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
As Division I play resumed and the calendar turned to 2013, the West Genesee ice hockey team found itself in the rare position of challenger and chaser.
Back-to-back defeats to Syracuse and Rome Free Academy late in December had punctured the Wildcats’ aura, and it spent the holiday break trying, in vain, to get that winning feeling back before things improved a bit.
WG nearly did so at Pittsford Sutherland on Dec. 27, but squandered a lead late in regulation and had to settle for a 2-2 tie.
For two periods, the Wildcats, who had not lost three straight games in seven seasons, kept Pittsford Sutherland off the board and got tremendous work in goal from Patrick Byrnes, who stopped everything on his way to 34 saves.
During the third period, the 0-0 deadlock got broken. Greg Weyl’s short-handed goal got Pittsford Sutherland in front 1-0, but WG tied it just 14 seconds later as, still on the power play, Derek Farrell converted off feeds from Mike Phillipione and Corey Raaflaub.
When Farrell fed Ryan McDonald for the go-ahead goal with 6:12 left, WG was in front 2-1. Moments away from victory, though, WG got caught after a penalty and an empty net put Pittsford Suthlerand in a 6-on-4, where Brad Sherman beat Byrnes for the tying goal.
Neither side scored in the five-minute overtime period, and the Wildcats were now winless in three games, looking to stop that skid back home at Shove Park against Potsdam a day later.
WG could not do so, again going to overtime – but this time losing by a 2-1 margin.
For a long while, Chad Varney’s first-period goal looked like it would hold up as the Sandstoners turned back all of WG’s multiple chances, getting strong work in goal from Devin Crary, who would finish with 32 saves.
Finally, the Wildcats tied it, 1-1, on McDonald’s third-period goal, fed by Derek Farrell and David Procopio, but that led to OT, where Varney returned to slide a shot past Burns for the game-winner. Overall, Burns, like Varney, would produce 32 saves.
With a week to regroup from this rare 0-3-1 slump, WG did so, and on Friday returned to Shove Park to take Watertown IHC apart en route to a 7-0 shutout over the Cavaliers.
It was only a 1-0 game until the second period, but at that point the Wildcats took off, scoring four unanswered goals amid a 44-shot attack that kept the puck in IHC’s end most of the night.
Matt McDonald, with four assists, anchored an attack where Raaflub and David Procopio both produced two goals and two assists. Ryan McDonald and Jake O’Donnell both had one goal and one assist as Steve Anderson also found the net. Nick Mellen, Tom Hanley and Mike Phillippone got one assist apiece.
Despite all that has happened, WG still led Division I West with 10 points, one better than Fayetteville-Manlius, as it tried to end Cicero-North Syracuse’s 10-game win streak Monday at Cicero Twin Rinks (where it bet F-M 3-1 earlier this season) before going to Ithaca on Saturday.