continued RFA began the second period a man up, but just like it did twice in the semifinal win over Cicero-North Syracuse, the Wildcats turned a supposed disadvantage into a pivotal goal.
Catching the Black Knights on a change, three WG players skated toward Ross, and it was Ryan McDonald going up top for the goal that made it 2-0.
"When we see the loose puck, we're not hesitating," said Michel.
Fired up by that play, the Wildcats made it 3-0 on even strength 6:41 into the period as Derek Farrell pounced on the rebound of a McDonald shot and converted. As it turned out, WG would need that cushion.
Justin Hussey scored on another power play late in the second period to get RFA on the board, and the Black Knights went all-out on the attack the rest of the period. Burns turned everything away, though, earning a large portion of his 27 saves in this sequence. He said the key was not to panic.
"You've got to stay calm, block everything out and have faith in your defense," said Burns.
Indeed, Michel, Nick Mellen and the rest of WG's back line had no intention of making things closer. They spent the bulk of the third period blocking shots and turning away other RFA opportunities until Tyler Nicolaus scored off a face-off with 2:36 left to cut the margin to one.
Again, the Wildcats stayed cool, and it was the Black Knights committing a pair of costly penalties with under a minute to play, costing it any chance to pull Ross and attack at the end.
High emotions were on display throughout the game. Burns got tangled up with an RFA player after the second period, and tempers flared again during the post-game handshake. Colabufo said it was just a byproduct of the game's intensity, that no animosity existed between the two programs.
But it's still the Wildcats on top, heading to the Rochester area next Saturday to play Section V champion McQuaid with a berth in the state final four at Utica Auditorium on the line.
"It feels amazing," said Burns. "We all knew we could pull it off."