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Hockey Wildcats win seventh straight sectional title

West Genny again denies RFA with championship at stake

West Genesee's ice hockey team with the Section III Division I championship banner after defeating Rome Free Academy 3-1 Saturday at Utica Memorial Auditorium. It's the Wildcats' seventh consecutive sectional title, the last four of them earned defeating the Black Knights in the sectional final.

West Genesee's ice hockey team with the Section III Division I championship banner after defeating Rome Free Academy 3-1 Saturday at Utica Memorial Auditorium. It's the Wildcats' seventh consecutive sectional title, the last four of them earned defeating the Black Knights in the sectional final.

Make that seven consecutive Section III Division I championships for the West Genesee ice hockey team, and four consecutive titles won at the expense of Rome Free Academy.

The Wildcats' latest conquest of the Black Knights, a 3-1 victory in Saturday's sectional final at Utica Memorial Auditorium, included a crucial second-period scoring outburst and a defense that, once again, protected a lead once it was attained.

Head coach Frank Colabufo, finishing his 20th season at the Wildcats' helm, said the feeling of gaining a championship is never a routine one, no matter how many take place.

"It never gets old," he said. "Every one is harder than the ones before it. These kids have an incredible work ethic and trust in what we are teaching them."

The fact that it was done against RFA again, made it even sweeter. Everyone knew the history the two sides shared, having met in the last three sectional finals, each of them won by the Wildcats, on this same Utica Auditorium ice, by one-goal margins.

RFA, absent a championship since 1991, riding a six-game win streak and no. 3 in the state Division I rankings, was desperate to finally finish on top, knowing that to do it would mean ending the state no. 1-ranked Wildcats' 22-game unbeaten streak.

If anyone set the tone for WG, it was goaltender Henry Burns. At least three times in the first period, he had to make point-blank stops, robbing J.T. Entelisamo and then twice thwarting Justin Hussey as the Wildcats struggled to get any attack going.

"We knew that RFA would come after us early," said Colabufo.

But when WG went on the power play, it didn't take long to go out in front. At the 11:58 mark, Matt McDonald's shot got deflected by Derek Farrell past RFA goaltender Devin Hart, and the Wildcats had the 1-0 lead it took until overtime to attain the only time these two sides had met in the regular season Jan. 17 at Shove Park.

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