West Genesee goaltender Henry Burns (1), flanked by two of his defenders, stops the puck in last Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory over Baldwinsville. Burns finished with 12 saves on the night, and would go on to shut out both Liverpool and Shaker-Colonie later in the week as the state Division I top-ranked Wildcats improved to 13-0 on the season.
Halfway through its regular-season schedule, West Genesee’s ice hockey team stood at the top of the state Division I rankings, having not faced that much late-game stress.
Of the Wildcats’ first 10 games, all victories, just one of them was decided by a single goal, a 2-1 decision against Watertown IHC on Dec. 17 at the Fairgrounds Arena.
A similar sort of road test awaited WG last Wednesday night as it ventured to Lysander to take on Baldwinsville. In the latest chapter of this fierce, physical rivalry, WG got the best of it, hanging on at the end to edge the Bees 3-2.
Through the years, B’ville, even when it couldn’t earn many victories against the Wildcats, always made things difficult, and this game was no exception as the teams battled through a scoreless first period, despite WG getting most of the opportunities.
Then WG appeared to take over in the second period, as David Procopio scored twice and Corey Raaflub also found the net. Ryan McDonald and Derek Farrell both got credit for a pair of assists as Collin Kobuszewski also got an assist. B’ville got on the board, too, Charlie Bertrand scoring off a feed from Matt Abbott.
So it went to the third period with the Wildcats in front, 3-1,but it wasn’t over. B’ville cut the deficit in half late in the frame, Abbott again getting the assist as Garrett Gray found the net, but the Bees could not pull even and force overtime.
The Wildcats ultimately took twice as many shots as the Bees, though Nick Harper stopped most of them, making 27 saves as WG’s Henry Burns had 13 saves.
Two nights later, WG was back at Shove Park and taking on Liverpool, vastly improved this season with a 7-3 record and a determination to measure itself against the reigning champions.