Perhaps the 4-2 defeat the Skaneateles boys ice hockey team took against New Hartford on Jan. 10 at Allyn Arena was just the necessary tonic to whip the Lakers into doing something about its slow-starting tendencies.
As a response, the Lakers scored five goals in the first period against Ontario Bay a day after the Spartans defeat, and another quick start proved crucial in last Tuesday’s game at the Morrisville State IcePlex, where Skaneateles beat Cazenovia 3-1.
Though a state Division II champion in 2011, Cazenovia had fallen back in the years that followed, and was 2-6-2 going into this game.
Still, Skaneateles didn’t take this latest Laker battle lightly, again producing in the first period as it stormed out to a 2-0 lead. That would prove to be the difference as the two sides traded goals in the second period and were quiet the rest of the way.
Overcoming Mario Benedetti’s 30 saves, Skaneateles saw Tyler Strods, Reece Eddy and Matt Benson each produce a goal. Strods also got an assist as Raymond Falso, Devin Callahan, Josh Kuhns and Cullen McGlynn also earned assists. A tight Skaneateles defense made it easier for goalie Jarrett McDonald, who recorded 15 saves.
Back home at Allyn Arena Friday night, the Lakers faced Whitesboro, and turned it into a big event. As part of the state-wide “Battle of the Fans” promotion, they brought out a light show and fog machine, among other features, to create a more electric atmosphere.
Of course, Skaneateles also wanted to win the game, too, and would do so, getting past the Warriors 4-1 as the key moment turned out to be a mid-game surge.
They were tied, 1-1, through one period, but after Whitesboro’s Brendan Sand found the net, the Lakers’ defense shut the Warriors down, again limiting chances as the visitors took just 13 shots.
Meanwhile, a pair of second-period tallies put Skaneateles ahead for good, and they added a late goal, too, as Briggs Carter continued to emerge as an offensive threat, scoring twice. Callahan and Strods earned the Lakers’ other goals, while Eddy, Falso, Kuhns, Trey Wirth and Patrick Major ended up with single assists.
This kept Skaneateles (14 points) two points clear of Auburn (12 points) atop the Division II American Conference standings as the Lakers get a big test Wednesday at Division II National Conference leader Clinton before going to Cortland-Homer Friday night.