Dec 08, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In order to believe that it can earn a long-elusive Section III Division I title, the Baldwinsville ice hockey team first had to prove itself in a brutal early-season gauntlet that would include four games in a five-day span and six in 11 days.
A season ago, B’ville went 13-8-1 and, again, stopped short of a sectional title, losing in the semifinals to Rome Free Academy – the same team it faces on Friday at the end of this tough, crowded early stretch.
Nine seniors graduated from that squad, including two All-League selections – Parker Ferrigan (first team) and Ronnie Bertrand (second team). Veteran head coach Mark Lloyd hopes that the depth of the Bees’ squad will allow for a new set of stars to emerge.
B’ville is part of the revamped Division I National Conference with RFA, Liverpool, Cicero-North Syracuse and the newly-formed Mohawk Valley (formerly Utica Proctor). Five-time defending sectional champion West Genesee joins Fayetteville-Manlius, Watertown IHC, the Syracuse Cougars and Fulton in the American Conference.
Right at the start, the Bees found itself in trouble in last Tuesday’s opener against Liverpool, with whom it shares the Greater B’ville Ice Arena facility in Lysander, but overcame a two-goal deficit and earned a tough 4-3 victory over the Warriors.
Liverpool jumped on top, 2-0, by the end of the first period. From there, though, B’ville’s defense cracked down, producing a second-period shutout and allowing the hosts to pull even, 2-2.
Then they went back and forth from there, the Bees taking a 3-2 lead, only to have Liverpool tie it minutes later before a goal midway through the final period got B’ville in front for good.
Four different players – James Pelcher, Matt Abbott, Matt Zandri and Garrett Gray – had the four B’ville goals. Truman Strodel, Luke McCaffrey, Charlie Bertrand and Mike Schneid got credit for assists as Nick Harper, playing in goal, recorded 27 saves. Kody Gaulke, J.T. Muolo and Dalton Horton had Liverpool’s goals.
Without any time to rest, B’ville played again Wednesday night, taking a long trip to the north country and getting jumped on early by Watertown IHC, never able to recover in a 5-3 defeat to the Cavaliers at Fairgrounds Arena.
Before the Bees could settle down, IHC gained a 3-0 first-period lead, and it spent the rest of the game in catch-up mode, never really clicking in its attack until the third period, when it scored twice, but saw the Cavaliers do the same.
Gray led the way with one goal and one assist, while Bertrand and David Eckmann also got goals. Abbott, Schneid, Adam Tretowicz and David Mazurkiewicz had one assist apiece as Harper, settling down from early troubles, managed 23 saves.
And this led straight to the Bobby Conklin Memorial Tournament, which started Friday with the Bees facing the Syracuse Cougars. In good position early, B’ville could not hold on to it, losing its second straight game in a 3-2 decision.
Tretowicz and Gray put in the goals that gave the Bees a 2-1 first-period edge, and assisted on each other’s scoring plays as Bertrand picked up a pair of assists.
Syracuse fought back, though, going in front in the second period as Mitch Laffin, Sean Eccles and Mark Purcell found the net for the Cougars. Harper would build his save total to 31 in the final period, but B’ville could not force overtime, its shots gobbled up by Syracuse goalie Sam Walsh, who earned 23 saves.
This sent B’ville to Saturday’s consolation game against Fulton, who lost 6-2 to Oswego in the other half of the opening round. Here, the Bees needed a good effort – and got it, holding on at the end to beat the Red Raiders 3-2.
All of the goals for B’ville came in the first two periods as it built a 3-1 lead. Pelcher, Abbott and Sean Barron found the net, with Schneid and Tyler Church earning assists.
But even though the Bees took twice as many shots, Fulton goalie Spencer Evans made 29 saves to keep it close, and Fulton nearly caught up late before a defensive stand, anchored by Harper (16 saves), helped B’ville escape with the win. Syracuse won the tournament title, the Cougars shutting out Oswego 4-0 in the championship game.
B’ville would not get much rest despite the work of the opening week, hosting Ithaca on Tuesday before that Friday visit to Kennedy Arena and its sectional semifinal rematch with RFA.