Morrisville When the Cazenovia High School hockey team takes to the ice to play Cicero-North Syracuse on Monday, Dec. 23, it will be more than just a game for both teams. Proceeds from the event will go toward scholarships that have been established in memory of two Cazenovia alumni, one of which has a connection to CNS.
Neil Bailey was entering his senior year at Cazenovia in 1998 when he was tragically killed in a car accident. Neil was a member of the ice hockey team and had been committed to the sport since he was four years old. As a great friend and teammate, he believed in helping others in both the community and on his team. Hockey was a family sport with Neil and his brother, Kyle, both playing for Cazenovia. Kyle has continued on in hockey and will be behind the bench at Monday’s game as the head coach for CNS.
Although Neil's life was tragically cut short, his memory lives on in the Neil Bailey Memorial Scholarship. For more than 15 years, the Neil Bailey Memorial Scholarship has been awarded annually to a Cazenovia varsity hockey player who has shown dedication to his team and demonstrated sportsmanship and a positive work ethic.
In July of this year, Cazenovia and the area hockey community lost another well respected member. Brian Gara was a 1982 graduate of Cazenovia High School and captained the ice hockey team that claimed Cazenovia's first sectional title. Brian’s passion for hockey led him into a remarkable coaching career with numerous youth hockey programs, including Cazenovia Youth Hockey, Center State and the Syracuse Stars. With an ability to develop both skills and teamwork, he coached his teams to three state titles, with several of his players, including his son, skating for the Cazenovia Lakers State Championship team in 2011.
The Brian R. Gara Memorial Hockey Scholarship will be awarded annually to a Cazenovia varsity hockey player who exemplifies the qualities that Brian promoted — a sense of humor, passion for hockey and commitment to education.
The Cazenovia/CNS hockey game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23, at the Morrisville IcePlex. The annual Cazenovia Alumni hockey game will take place immediately after.