Baldwinsville Having accomplished so much in this turnaround 2013-14 season, the Liverpool ice hockey team wanted, more than anything, to keep the story going beyond the opening round of the Section III Division I playoffs.
But the Warriors still had to absorb one more painful lesson in that first-round game Thursday night at Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena, as Watertown IHC showed up and prevailed, 4-2, to end Liverpool’s campaign.
What made it hurt more was that the Warriors had beaten the Cavaliers in each of its two regular-season meetings – a 3-2 overtime decision on Dec. 7 at the Ontario Bay Tournament, and then a 6-2 Liverpool romp on Jan. 19 at the Watertown Fairgrounds.
Finally getting to play on home ice against the Cavaliers did not help Liverpool, though, as it found it particularly difficult to stop IHC forward Jordan Trudeau, who earned a three-goal hat trick three different ways – one power-play goal, one short-handed and one at even strength.
Liverpool tried to counter as Kyle Terzini and Bobby Welch earned goals. But the Warriors’ top line was mostly contained as Dalton Horton, Division I’s leading goal-scorer this season, and Kody Gaulke got held to one assist apiece. Nate Bittel and Zach Vivenzo also had assists.
Meanwhile, Steve Kozikoski recorded 23 saves in the net, but he couldn’t keep Trudeau from his hat trick, nor stop Jake Renzi, who added a goal and two assists for the Cavaliers. Sean Shepard and Jared Pignone had two assists apiece and IHC’s goalie, Cole James, recorded 24 saves.
So Liverpool concluded with a 12-8-1 mark, vastly improved from its 7-12-1 record of a season ago, but still with some work to do if it wanted to join the sectional elite full-time.