SYRACUSE Even though it wasn't victorious, the West Genesee ice hockey team got exactly what it needed from Wednesday night's game at Syracuse and, as a result, reigns as Division I West's top side once again.
The Wildcats fought to a well-played 1-1 tie Wednesday night at Meachem Ice Rink, not quite the payback WG wanted for a 1-0 overtime loss to that same Syracuse side at Shove Park Dec. 19, but sufficient to the situation at hand.
This time helped WG (12-5-2 overall, 10-3-1 league) clinch the West’s No. 1 playoff seed. The Cougars (11-7-2 / 7-6-2) were locked into fourth place before the game started - or so it thought.
Collin Thompson’s first period goal staked the Cougars to a 1-0 lead. The Wildcats pulled even through Aaron Jones’ second period marker. From there, the goaltenders - Henry Burns for WG, Jim Albright for Syracuse - took over.
“We needed to clinch the one seed and we did,” Wildcats coach Frank Colabufo said. “(But) we would have liked to have won the game.”
Things weren’t looking good early for Colabufo’s squad. Thompson intercepted a WG clearing pass at the blueline, skated toward Burns, and ripped a wrist shot past the Wildcats’ netminder just 6:20 into the game.
“(West Genesee) plays a tough defense so they’re hard to get goals on and hard to get shots,” Syracuse coach John Purcell said.
The Wildcats had to wonder if they were in for a long night. Albright was in fine form up to that point, looking very much like the goalie that stopped all 45 shots he faced in that first meeting in Camillus.
This time around, Albright stopped all seven shots he faced in the first period. But there was nothing he could do to stop WG's first shot of the second frame.