Regardless of what takes place in the Section III Division I playoffs, the Liverpool ice hockey team has taken giant steps toward joining the elite.
Still, the Warriors’ regular-season finale, against Mohawk Valley last Friday night, provided a bit of a wake-up call as it took a 5-2 defeat to the Raiders to end up at 12-7-1 going into the sectional tournament.
Entering the game with a 7-11-1 mark, Mohawk Valley, who lost to Liverpool 6-4 back on Jan. 12 at Kennedy Arena in Rome, showed how much it had improved in the month since.
J.T Muolo scored once for Liverpool and assisted on the other goal, by Nate Bittel. Kody Gaulke also managed an assist. Tim Flihan and Austin Dreimiller each got two goals for the Raiders, with Flihan adding an assist and goalie Emerson Carpenter frustrating the Warriors, stopping 36 of the 38 shots he faced.
As for Cicero-North Syracuse, it still had some work left, starting with last Thursday night’s game against Rome Free Academy, who had beaten out Liverpool for the Division I National Conference regular-season title.
Despite a valiant effort, the Northstars lost to the Black Knights by that same 5-2 margin. RFA pulled away in the second period with a pair of unanswered goals after C-NS only trailed, 2-1, at the end of the opening period.
Chris Schneid and Matt Siegel earned the goals, with Shawn O’Neill assisting on both scoring plays. Logan Field and Newell Field also gained assists as Brandon Gloska recorded 35 saves. J.T. Entelisano (two goals, one assist) and Cameron Mecca (one goal, two assists) led a deep, well-balanced RFA attack.
Then the Northstars faced Potsdam, from the Section X ranks, on Saturday night, and ended its 3-16-1 season with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sandstoners.
Trailing 2-0 after Potsdam scored twice in the first period, C-NS stayed patient, and then in the third period rallied to tie it. Field scored once and assisted on Ben Cummings’ tally, while Schneid assisted on Field’s goal.
But the Sandstoners won it in the five-minute extra period, negating a terrific effort in the net by Gloska, who stopped 45 of 47 shots.
As C-NS finishes, Liverpool, who shared second place with Baldwinsville in the Division I National Conference but owned the tie-breaker, gets ready for Thursday night’s first-round sectional game against Watertown IHC.
The winner could meet five-time defending champion West Genesee in next week’s semifinal round, leading up to the Feb. 23 championship game at Utica Memorial Auditorium.