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WG hockey turns back B’ville, Liverpool

Top-ranked Wildcats improve to 13-0, get back-to-back shutouts

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.

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. Scott Thomas

That didn’t matter much here, though, as the Wildcats leaned on its work in man-up – and man-down – situations to put together an efficient 3-0 shutout of the Warriors.

Early nerves were in place for Liverpool, as evidenced by the way it easily surrendered the puck in its own end, giving WG a string of early opportunities. The Wildcats took seven shots in the first six minutes, but freshman goalie Steven Kozikoski stopped all of them.

As the Warriors settled down late in the period, it got a power-play opportunity, only to come up empty. Then, on WG's first power play, Procopio's wrist shot from the point beat Kozikoski with 48.7 seconds left in the period, and Liverpool trailed 1-0.

It stayed that way through much of an evenly-played second period. The Warriors started to pick up its attack and got plenty of chances to pull even, only to meet frustration as Richie Hart pumped one shot off the post and Burns twice stopped Dalton Horton on point-blank looks.

Then, late in the second period, the game's pivotal sequence took place. A boarding penalty by Procopio gave Liverpool a four-minute power play that would extend into the third period.

But with 39.1 seconds left in the period, the Wildcats, well-known for its capability when a man down, burned the Warriors as Nick Mellen nabbed a short-handed goal, assisted by Corey Raaflub.

Thus, despite the Warriors' soild play, it trailed 2-0, and both of those goals had come in the last minute, which is always a momentum shift. Unable to recover, the Warriors surrendered another power-play goal, this one to McDonald, with 4:49 left.

Kozikoski finished with 26 saves, but Liverpool came up short of the 20-shot mark head coach Chris Mathes had set before the game. None of the Warriors' 15 shots got past Burns.

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