Then things really got interesting, as Cazenovia closed the regular season at Oswego on Thursday, playing its third game in as many nights.
Somehow, the Lakers fought through the fatigue and tied the defending sectional champion Buccaneers 4-4, exactly double the result of their Jan. 17 meeting at the IcePlex that ended 2-2.
Trailing 2-0 after one period, the Lakers made up most of that deficit with a three-goal second-period surge, and then tied it in the final period.
Jeff Stowell had a part in every scoring play, getting a goal and assisting on the other three, two of them by Cannizzaro, who also had an assist. Brendan Whalen recorded a goal as Jake Stowell and Cole Willard put up one assist apiece. Mario Benedetti finished with 23 saves.
Had Oswego won, it was likely to gain the no. 2 seed for the playoffs and a bye straight into the semifinal round. Instead, the tie allowed New Hartford to claim the no. 2 spot, relegating the Bucs to the no. 3 seed.
And that means Cazenovia will have to go back to Crisafulli Rink, better known as “The Fort”, in the opening round of the Division II playoffs. The last two sectional champions will collide to see who gets New Hartford in the semifinals, with the title game Feb. 23 at Utica Memorial Auditorium.