SYRACUSE So the West Genesee ice hockey team will not have a perfect season - but it could still end up without a defeat.
After 16 consecutive victories and five consecutive shutouts, the Wildcats finally got caught Wednesday night at Meachem Rink, the Syracuse Cougars able to rally from an early deficit and forge a 1-1 tie.
Though it didn't get what it fully wanted, Syracuse still improved its chances of finishing second in the Division I American Conference, which would mean a first-round Section III home playoff game in two weeks' time.
Back when these neighbors first met Dec. 13 at Shove Park, WG rolled to a 5-0 victory. Since then, the Wildcats parked itself atop the state Division I rankings and stayed there, while the Cougars had tailed off in mid-January, winless in three games before stopping Ithaca 6-4 last Friday night.
Yet from the moment this game started, it was clear that Syracuse was not going to let the Wildcats run over them again. Trapping on the defensive side, it bottled up WG's deep fleet of forwards and kept them quiet through most of the first period.
Just as the period was winding down, though, the Wildcats struck. In a four-on-four situation, Derek Farrell attacked the net after a fine feed from Grainger Sasso.
Cougars goalie Sam Walsh stopped Farrell's initial shot, but the puck went loose and Matt McDonald fired home the rebound just three seconds before the horn, putting WG up 1-0.
It was just the sort of back-breaking goal that the Wildcats have used on many occasions this season to take charge against a frustrated opponent. But Syracuse would not back away.
During the second period, the Cougars gained some momentum by killing off two WG penalties, and then put on massive pressure in its own power play late in the frame.