Weeks of uneven play had plagued the Skaneateles boys ice hockey team even as it still managed to defeat most of its opponents and took an 18-2 overall record into the Section III Division II playoffs.
Then Cazenovia arrived at Allyn Arena Friday night for the opening-round sectional game and, in a matter of minutes, the high-flying attack eturned for Skaneateles, who scored six times in the first period on the way to dismissing those other Lakers from the post-season in a 10-0 shutout.
Though Cazenovia only possessed a 3-17 record, it still finished fourth in the Division II National Conference because Ontario Bay went 0-12 in league play. Skaneateles prevailed 9-3 in their lone regular-season meeting Jan. 3.
Now, with a second straight sectional title and third straight trip to the state Division II title game squarely in its sights, Skaneateles wanted to make sure Cazenovia never got too close to them.
Less than three minutes had passed before Skaneateles had a 2-0 lead as Matt Benson netted the first goal and seconds later, Reggie Buell converted on a breakaway.
Not to be left out, Raymond Falso scored to make it 3-0, and just when Cazenovia thought things would ease off, Skaneateles would double that margin within a 93-second span as the period wound down.
Patrick Moore’s goal with 1:50 left in the period got it rolling, with Adam Lupo finding the net 20 seconds later, the fifth different goal-scorer on the night. Then, with 23 seconds left in the frame, Buell scored again off a feed from Falso.
Even Skaneateles could not maintain that pace the rest of the way, but Benson still scored twice in the second period to give him the hat trick and, in the third period, Benson netted a fourth goal as Buell found the net, too, to get his own hat trick.
Falso, who announced early this week that he is attending Nazareth College in Rochester next fall, finished the night with four assists, a number that Patrick Major matched, while Benson’s three assists gave him seven total points and Buell contributed a pair of assists. Ryan Gick also had an assist.
In the sectional Division II semifinal, Skaneateles will face Oswego, who rallied to beat Auburn 3-2 at Casey Park on Thursday night. The winner will face Clinton (who knocked off Whitesboro 1-0) or CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt (who rallied past New Hartford 4-3) in next Saturday’s sectional final at 1:30 at the Onondaga County War Memorial.