Feb 09, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
With its undefeated regular-season mark and its seventh league title in the books, the West Genesee ice hockey team could now turn its full attention to getting the prizes it really wants.
After waiting out another snow postponement, the Wildcats finished its 19-0-1 tear through the regular season last Friday night, against Watertown IHC, where it worked its way to a 3-1 victory ove the Cavaliers.
Prior to the game, there were the usual Senior Night festivities, along with a surprise ceremony that honored WG head coach Frank Colabufo for his 20 years of leading the Wildcat program, which included a plaque given to Colabufo.
Such things can prove a distraction, but WG didn’t let that happen, battling from start to finish.
Leading 1-0 after one period, the Wildcats matched IHC’s lone goal, from David Brancheau, in the second period and used puck possession to wear the Cavaliers down as it tacked on a late insurance goal, eventually taking 35 shots to IHC’s nine.
Derek Farrell, with one goal and one assist, and Ryan McDonald, with two assists, led a well-balanced attack. David Procopio and Collin Kobuszewski earned the other goals as Corey Raaflub and Steve Anderson picked up assists of their own.
That was preceded by last Monday night’s game against Fayetteville-Manlius at the Cicero Twin Rinks, where the Wildcats did not have that easy of a time against the fourth-place Hornets, but still won by that same 3-1 margin as it used to later beat IHC.
Against an F-M it shut out 5-0 at Shove Park on Dec. 20, things remained scoreless until the second period, when WG found the net twice to counteract Ryan Daly’s goal for F-M as Daren Dunnewold (who had a hat trick in a Jan. 31 win over Oswego) and Mateo Capriotti earned assists.
Going to the third period with a 2-1 edge, the Wildcats did tack on an insurance goal, finally overcoming the superb work of Hornets goalie Ben Napierala, who made 44 saves.
Farrell had one goal and one assist, and David Procopio, with two assists, led a well-balanced WG attack. Anderson and Aaron Jones nabbed the other goals as Koubszewski picked up a single assist. All told, the Wildcats’ defense held F-M to just six shots all night.
The Syracuse Cougars had won both games since tying WG 1-1 on Jan. 29, and kept it up last Tuesday night, at Fulton, where it let the Red Raiders hang around for a while, but then took over in the third period and pulled away to win by a 5-1 margin.
With Fulton goalie Brandon Ladd constantly thwarting Syracuse attackers on his way to 38 saves, the Cougars only led 2-1 going into the final period, but then put things away with three unanswered goals as Sean Eccles, with two goals and one assist, led the way.
Collin Thompson also found the net twice, while Ryan Lehrer got the other goal. Matt Eccles managed a pair of assists as Liam Berry and Matt Pitre notched single assists.
Syracuse got to play IHC a night before West Genesee did so, but Thursday’s affair proved a disappointing one for the Cougars as it lost to the Cavaliers in yet another 3-1 game.
Having lost to Syracuse 3-2 in overtime back on Dec. 2, the Cavaliers grabbed a 1-0 lead on Sean Shepard’s first-period goal. Not stopping there, Shepard tacked on two more goals in the second period to give him the hat trick and negate Thompson’s goal for the Cougars, set up by passes from Sean Eccles and Jared Ristoff.
Walsh did settle down in the game’s latter stages, earning 18 saves overall, but IHC shut down Syracuse to prevent any comeback as Cavaliers goalie Cole James stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced.
Without any rest, the Cougars faced Skaneateles (who had just lost 4-0 to Auburn the night before) at Allyn Arena Friday night to close out its regular season, and took another defeat to the Lakers, this one by a score of 2-1.
For two periods, neither side could convert. Then, in the third period, Eccles found the net for Syracuse (12-5-3), only to have Raymond Falso and Patrick Major score goals for Skaneateles, and that proved enough. Ben Wilson, taking his turn in goal, stopped 14 of the 16 shots he faced.
Despite this, the Cougars are still at home this Thursday to face Liverpool in the first round of the Division I playoffs, a night before West Genesee hosts Mohawk Valley at Shove Park. Winners advance to the semifinals early next week, with the title game Feb. 22 at Utica Memorial Auditorium.