Cicero-North Syracuse forward Eric Hamilton (20) takes a point-blank shot in Monday night's game against West Genesee. Hamilton's two goals and one assist propelled the state Division I no. 4-ranked Northstars past the Wildcats 3-1 for its 11th consecutive victory.
Cicero Work for the Cicero-North Syracuse ice hockey team begins long before the sun rises - or even the school day starts.
From 5:30 to 6:45 a.m. each weekday morning, the Northstars are practicing at the Twin Rinks. Head coach Kyle Bailey said his team might be the only one in Section III that has this pre-dawn routine.
And it’s paying off. C-NS, no. 4 in the latest state Division I rankings, made it 11 consecutive victories on Monday night, working well in all phases of the game to take out four-time defending sectional champion West Genesee 3-1.
This was the only regular-season meeting between the Wildcats and Northstars. Despite its recent dominance, WG has struggled this winter with a young lineup and numerous injuries. In fact, the Wildcats’ top player, Robby Michel, was out for this game.
Despite this, WG took 13 shots in the first period, aggressively pushing its way to the Northstars’ net. But C-NS goaltender Alex Johnston stopped all of them, sparking his team’s effort.
It helped, too, that Eric Hamilton quickly gave C-NS a 1-0 lead. Just 2:42 into the game, Hamilton, in his first rush to the Wildcats’ net, delivered a wrist shot just inside the left post and past WG goalie Henry Burns as Matt Fiume earned the assist.
A bigger goal was scored early in the second period. WG was on the power play, trying to pull even, but Kyler Schilling stole the puck and passed to Jesse Farabee on the right side, and Farabee streaked up the ice.
It appeared that a Wildcats defender had caught up to Farabee and Hamilton, streaking up the middle. At just the right moment, though, Farabee passed to the middle, and Hamilton sneaked it past Burns, the short-handed goal doubling C-NS’s lead to 2-0.
Hamilton, along with Farabee, would assist on Fiume’s third-period goal, and though the Wildcats’ Timmy Sexton would answer 30 seconds later and break up the shutout, the Northstars would not get caught.
A lot of that was due to the defense. True, Johnston made 27 saves, but Schilling, Paul Ludden, A.J. Merola and the rest of the back line did a tremendous job of penalty-killing, twice denying the Wildcats in brief five-on-three opportunities to preserve the lead.
C-NS goes for 12 in a row when it plays neighbor and rival Liverpool Thursday night at 7:30 at Greater Baldwinsville