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.