Right up until the last week of the regular season, the Cazenovia ice hockey team still did not know whether it would be involved in the Section III Division II playoffs.
However, the Lakers got just the win it needed to earn that sixth and final playoff berth, unleashing all kinds of offense in Tuesday night’s 7-3 victory over seventh-place Whitesboro at the Morrisville State IcePlex.
Cazenovia was fresh and ready to go, having twice seen a trip to Fulton postponed by big winter snowstorms in a four-day span.
And the Lakers weren’t fazed by the game’s high stakes, inching ahead of Whitesboro 2-1 by the end of the first period. But it was in the second period that Cazenovia really took over, putting up three unanswered goals to extend the margin to 5-1, out of the Warriors’ reach.
Jake Stowell had one of his best efforts of the season, getting two goals and one assist to pace a well-balanced offense that also saw Brad Nardella score twice.
Four different Lakers – Connor Cannizzaro, Connor Race, Billy Rankin and Colin McGaugh – earned two assists apiece. Canizzaro and Race tacked on goals, with Jeff Stowell contributing one goal and one assist. Cazenovia’s defense protected that lead, too, holding Whitesboro to just 14 shots.
Now that the playoff berth was secure, Cazenovia could finally play that twice-delayed game at Fulton on Wednesday night and, showing no fatigue, the Lakers romped past the Red Raiders 7-1.
Racing out to a 6-0 lead through two periods, Cazenovia out-shot Fulton 38-17 as A.J. Davis, quiet in the Whitesboro game, roared back to form with a three-goal hat trick.
That fronted a Laker attack where Cannizzaro, Rankin and Alex Hunt each got one goal and one assist, with McGaugh also finding the net. Robby Keever gained two assists as Race, Cullen Franz, Jeff Stowell and Jake Stowell got one assist apiece.