Even with all of its struggles, it’s doubtful that the Cazenovia ice hockey team will miss the Section III Division II playoffs, due to the changes within the leagues.
Just 10 teams play Division II, five in each conference. Of them, the top four will qualify for the playoffs, and the Lakers are firmly entrenched in fourth place in the National Conference since Ontario Bay, at 0-10, still hasn’t won a game yet this winter.
Still, it would help Cazenovia’s cause to get some quality wins, and it had another chance to do so last Tuesday at the Morrisville State IcePlex, but lost 3-1 to those other Lakers from Skaneateles.
At 8-2-2, Skaneateles led the Division II American Conference standings, this despite a tendency to, at times, struggle at the start, as it once went four games without scoring a first-period goal.
That didn’t happen here, though, as Skaneateles jumped on Cazenovia and led 2-0 by the end of the opening frame, continually applying pressure on goalie Mario Benedetti.
For his part, Benedetti settled down and, after the second period, did not allow anything more on his way to 30 saves. But all Cazenovia could muster on the offensive end was Colin McGough’s second-period goal, assisted by Billy Rankin and Will McCrink.
All told, Cazenovia took just 16 shots, with Jarrett McDonald stopping 15 of them. Matt Benson, Reece Eddy and Tyler Strods earned the Skaneateles goals, with Strods adding an assist.
Back on the road Friday night, Cazenovia faced Cortland-Homer (who had just knocked off National Conference leader New Hartford), and found that the Golden Eagles had not cooled off as it rallied late to beat the Lakers 3-2.
Goals by Brendan Whalen and Lucas Bonavita had the Lakers up 2-1 through two periods, with Rankin and Trevor Cross picking up assists. Despite that, and despite 28 saves from Benedetti, Cortland-Homer’s Danny Turck would personally deliver a comeback, scoring the tying and go-ahead goals to complete a hat trick.