As the battle for Division I ice hockey playoff positions starts to get more heated, the Syracuse Cougars are a big part of that conversation, keeping pace with a West Genesee side that, ominously, might be starting to find its rhythm again.
Bouncing back from its overtime defeat to Cicero-North Syracuse in the Jan. 5 final of the C-NS Optimist Tournament, the Cougars went back to Cicero Twin Rinks last Wednesday, this time to face Central Square, and had a happier ending with a 7-3 win over the Red Hawks.
Overall, Syracuse took 46 shots to Central Square’s 19, and its attack gradually wore the Red Hawks down as 12 different players earned at least one point.
Only Ben Carrock scored twice, with Matt Thompson, Sean Eccles, Cameron Bennett, Nick Matro and Kyler Wilbur also finding the net. Collin Thompson, Erick Viola and Jared Ristoff each had two assists as Mark Purcell earned one assist, as did Eccles and Matt Thompson.
Back home at Meachem Rink on Friday to face Ontario Bay, the Cougars got to unload on the offensive end again, soaring past double digits in a 12-1 victory over the Storm.
Collin Thompson scored four times, while Bennett earned a season-best five assists to go with his lone tally. Travis Hyde and Pat Farrell each had two goals and one assist as Wilbur, Nate Carr and Kyler Laffin got single goals. Eccles, Viola, Matro, Purcell and Matt Thompson had one assist apiece.
As this went on, West Genesee, who lost to Cicero-North Syracuse 3-1 last Monday night, came back home to Shove Park and beat Central Square by that same 3-1 margin.
But the big news was the return of senior captain Robbie Michel from an injury that kept him out in early January. Instantly, his presence improved the Wildcats on both ends of the ice, through solid defense and as an anchor of the attack, where he picked up one assist.