Camillus West Genesee's ice hockey team is making sure that, once again, the path to Division I championship glory in the Section III ranks runs through Shove Park.
Tough at the start and productive at the finish, the Wildcats turned back the visiting Syracuse Cougars, 5-0, in Friday night's showdown for first place in the Division I American Conference.
Both of these neighboring sides entered the game undefeated - WG at 4-0, Syracuse at 3-0. And the Cougars had more reason than others to think that it could make the Wildcats worry.
A season ago, in their two regular-season encounters, Syracuse did not lose to WG, winning 1-0 in overtime at Shove Park in one encounter and tying the Wildcats 1-1 at Meachem Rink.
The only problem with this was that WG remembered those games, too, and were quite eager to reassert its total control in a big-time situation. Large student sections supporting both teams filled the Shove Park stands long before the opening face-off.
Once play started, it proved physical on both ends of the ice, but both teams found good scoring chances, even though neither of them got any kind of power play.
As the period wore on, though, the Wildcats picked up the pressure, and that paid off at the 11:55 mark when Derek Farrell, open at the point thanks to passes from Ryan McDonald and David Procopio, ripped a wrist shot past Syracuse goaltender Sam Walsh.
It was still 1-0 when, early in the second period, Syracuse earned a pair of power-play opportunities. Both times, WG's defense turned the Cougars away, with goalie Henry Burns making key stops as he would finish the night with 16 saves.
Just as the Wildcats killed off its second power play, at the 5:15 mark, WG created a two-on-one breakaway. Farrell started it, and then McDonald and Procopio traded passes until McDonald deposited it into the net, making it 2-0.