What had once been a sleepy corner of the Cicero-North Syracuse-Liverpool sports rivalry shoved itself into center stage Thursday night – or center ice, to be more precise.
The state Division I no. 4-ranked ice hockey Northstars, seeking its 12th straight win, and Warriors clashed at Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena for their lone regular-season encounter this winter, and it did not disappoint.
For a long while, it looked like Liverpool would cool C-NS down, but one late surge proved enough for the Northstars to escape Lysander with a 3-2 victory and the win streak intact.
As expected, C-NS would take more shots during the first period, but only emerge from it with a 1-1 tie. What was more, the Warriors blanked the Northstars in the second period as, again, eighth-grade goaltender Stephen Kozikoski turned in a superb effort.
Against Kozikoski, who finished with 38 saves, C-NS kept itself patient, and that was rewarded with a pair of goals in the third period, which proved just enough as Liverpool also got on the board to stay within range.
Eric Hamilton, Matt Siegel and Matt Fiume each scored, with Hamilton joining Chris Schneid, Paul Ludden and Ben Cummings in the assist column. Dalton Horton and Rocco Leone had the Warriors’ goals, with Alex Bittel, Kody Gaulke, Tyler Garofalo and J.T. Muolo earning assists.
A night after C-NS earned its 11th straight win (4-1 over West Genesee), Liverpool returned to action, going north to flatten Watertown IHC 9-2 as it got special performances from Bittel and Horton.
On its way to a 4-0 first-period romp and a 7-1 lead through two periods, the Warriors saw Bittel and Horton both record three-goal hat tricks. Horton also picked up two assists, while Bittel earned one assist.
Muolo found the net twice, with Garofalo earning the other goal. Donny Husted picked up three assists as Gaulke and Nick Bittel earned two assists apiece.
Even with the defeat to C-NS, Liverpool still has a chance to improve its playoff chances through games next week against Central Square and Ontario Bay as the Northstars host Cortland-Homer before another big test next Thursday against Fayetteville-Manlius.