Less than 15 minutes of good play separated the Baldwinsville ice hockey team from a spot in the Section III Division I championship game.
The Bees led by a goal over top seed Rome Free Academy in Tuesday night’s Division I semifinal at Kennedy Arena, ignoring the Black Knights’ shared no. 1 state ranking with Cicero-North Syracuse with solid all-around play.
Then the third period started – and all that hard work dissipated in an RFA surge that proved too much to handle, leading to a painful 5-2 defeat and the end of an up-and-down 2012-13 campaign.
They had met a month earlier – Jan. 15, to be precise – in Rome, and the Bees never recovered from a 2-0 deficit, though it stayed close until an empty-net goal clinched the Black Knights’ 4-2 win.
Determined to avoid that bad start in the playoff rematch, B’ville did so, getting on the board and forging a 1-1 tie. Then the Bees clamped down on defense in the second period and put in the go-ahead goal early in the third period to move in front 201.
The Bees’ brother tandem of Garth and Garrett Gray scored the team’s pair of goals to provide that lead, with Matt Zandri assisting on both scoring plays. They all had to pick up their game since the Bees were missing Parker Ferrigan, the team's leading scorer, due to mononucleosis.
Flush with playoff experience, RFA did not panic, Instead, it tied the game 2-2 on a power play caused by an interference penalty to Ronnie Bertrand that occurred right after the Bees went in front.
In the minutes that followed, Josh Pinard, who finished with 29 saves, and his fellow B’ville defenders could not prevent RFA from adding three more goals to zoom out in front.Mike Seifer led the Black Knight’s rally, scoring twice and adding an assist, while Drew DeBlasis, Cameron Mecca and Keegan Richie each had one goal.
The defeat ended a 12-9-1 season for the Bees that had close to everything. B’ville went 3-5-1 in December, then turned around to go 7-1 in January, only to take late-season defeats to West Genesee and Fayetteville-Manlius that cost the team second place in Division I West.
But the stunning ouster of F-M from the playoffs for playing one regular season game too many gave B’ville an unexpected home playoff game, where it routed Central Square 8-2 on Feb. 14 before taking its shot at RFA, an effort that fell one period short of success.