As Division I play resumed and the calendar turned to 2013, the West Genesee ice hockey team found itself in the rare position of challenger and chaser.
Back-to-back defeats to Syracuse and Rome Free Academy late in December had punctured the Wildcats’ aura, and it spent the holiday break trying, in vain, to get that winning feeling back before things improved a bit.
WG nearly did so at Pittsford Sutherland on Dec. 27, but squandered a lead late in regulation and had to settle for a 2-2 tie.
For two periods, the Wildcats, who had not lost three straight games in seven seasons, kept Pittsford Sutherland off the board and got tremendous work in goal from Patrick Byrnes, who stopped everything on his way to 34 saves.
During the third period, the 0-0 deadlock got broken. Greg Weyl’s short-handed goal got Pittsford Sutherland in front 1-0, but WG tied it just 14 seconds later as, still on the power play, Derek Farrell converted off feeds from Mike Phillipione and Corey Raaflaub.
When Farrell fed Ryan McDonald for the go-ahead goal with 6:12 left, WG was in front 2-1. Moments away from victory, though, WG got caught after a penalty and an empty net put Pittsford Suthlerand in a 6-on-4, where Brad Sherman beat Byrnes for the tying goal.
Neither side scored in the five-minute overtime period, and the Wildcats were now winless in three games, looking to stop that skid back home at Shove Park against Potsdam a day later.
WG could not do so, again going to overtime – but this time losing by a 2-1 margin.
For a long while, Chad Varney’s first-period goal looked like it would hold up as the Sandstoners turned back all of WG’s multiple chances, getting strong work in goal from Devin Crary, who would finish with 32 saves.