Changes have rippled through the Cazenovia ice hockey program, but the goal – to seek the top spots in Section III Division II and then in the state tournament – remain the same.
Jon Davignon, who coached the Lakers to its first-ever state title in 2011, is gone. Seth Howard, who was Davignon’s assistant coach, has taken charge of the Cazenovia program amid another shift in league composition.
Division II had just one league a season ago. Now, it’s two divisions, with Cazenovia part of the National Conference, joining Oswego, New Hartford, Clinton and Ontario Bay.
Reigning state champion CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt, Skaneateles, Whitesboro, Auburn and newcomer Cortland-Homer (who was in Division I a season ago) make up the American Conference.
Howard’s head coaching debut took place last Tuesday night, at the Morrisville State IcePlex, where the Lakers, looking to improve upon last season’s 7-10-4 mark, managed to shut down Ontario Bay and record a 2-0 victory over the Storm.
They were 0-0 until late in the first period, when Matt Bonavita sneaked a shot past Ontario Bay goaltender Matt Sheets. From there, and deep into the second period, the Lakers had to protect that one-goal margin, unable to add anything against Sheets, who finished with 21 saves.
The Storm had equal amounts of chances, but Cazenovia’s defense turned everything away, anchored by goalie Ryan McCann, who stopped all 23 shots he faced.
Meanwhile, the Lakers finally got an insurance goal when Colin McGaugh scored with 6:25 left. Dustin Hammond, Adam Race and Billy Rankin each had one assist on the night.
For its first road trip of the season, Cazenovia went to Whitestown Community Center Friday night, facing a Whitesboro team that had played CBA/J-D to a 2-2 tie earlier in the week.
And this one, too, would end in a draw, only it felt like a severe disappointment for the Lakers, who led until the game’s latter stages before ending 5-5 with the Warriors.
Cazenovia appeared to get control in the second period, when it broke out of a 1-1 tie with a three-goal flurry and grabbed a 4-2 lead. However, Whitesboro’s Ryan Suwek led his team back in the final period with a similar run, ending up with four of his team’s goals.
Overtime settled nothing, so the Lakers had to settle for a 1-0-1 mark for the opening week going into Tuesday’s home game against New Hartford, its only action next week.