Liverpool forward Carson Ferguson (27) unloads on a slap shot during last Tuesday’s game against Auburn at Lysander Arena. Ferguson had two assists in the Warriors’ 5-3 defeat to the Maroons and then scored twice in a win over Rome Free Academy later in the week.
Another shuffle in the Division I ice hockey ranks mean that different challenges face Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse this winter.
For the Warriors, the path to the top in the American Conference is steeper because Baldwinsville, with whom it shares the Lysander Ice Arena, and Syracuse are in the same division. Liverpool will have to face the Bees and Cougars twice apiece.
As for the Northstars, the primary path to the top goes through West Genesee, winners of nine of the last 10 Section III Division I titles. Their first head-to-head meeting comes on Dec. 15 at Shove Park in Camillus.
Liverpool would get underway first, hosting Auburn last Tuesday night. For two periods, it went back and forth, but the Warriors saw it get away late in a 5-3 loss to the Maroons.
Auburn had already played once, edging Skaneateles 6-5 on Nov. 22, and it kept poised even though Liverpool traded goals with them – once in the first period, twice in the second period.
Bobby Welch had two of the Warriors’ three tallies, with Pat Langlois getting the other goal. Carson Ferguson had two assists as Connor Boland and Dan Laurenti had the other assists.
It was 3-3 going to the third period, but Auburn took the lead for good, overcoming 39 saves from Liverpool goalie Gavin Busa. Johnny Malandruccolo led the Maroons, scoring twice and adding a pair of assists as Jake Morin added a goal and two assists.
A night later, it was C-NS’s turn to face Auburn at the Twin Rinks, and it had a slightly better result, pushing the Maroons from start to finish but settling for a 2-2 tie.
Malandruccolo and R.J. Szakalski both scored in the first period, giving Auburn a 2-1 advantage. From there, though, the C-NS defense kept the Maroons off the board, Spencer Coon finishing the night with 26 saves.
But other than a second-period tally, the Northstars were shut down, too, seeing 36 of its 38 shots stopped by Jack Kalabanka. That folloed goals by Jake DenBleyker and Josh Matyasik, with Robert Mitchell assisting on both goals and Nick Sciore also getting an assist.
Both teams played Friday, with C-NS hosting Mohawk Valley and Liverpool going to Kennedy Arena to face Rome Free Academy, and both would get their first victories of the season.
The Northstars rallied past Mohawk Valley 2-1, surrendering a first-period goal to the Raiders’ Andrew Martino, but then seeing DenBleyker earn assists on goals by Mitchell and Holden Sarosy in the next two periods.
Matt Cramer and Logan Ungelich also picked up assists, but it was the C-NS defense that did the most damage, limiting Mohawk Valley to 12 shots, barely one-third the Northstars’ total as Mike Eastman’s 34 saves kept things close.
The Warriors also reached the win column, beating RFA 4-1 as it scored twice in the first period, all that it would need, but still tacked on a pair of late goals to have a bigger cushion.
Ferguson stepped up, notching two goals and one assist, while Welch got one goal and one assist. Langlois had the other goal and Boland added an assist as Busa, with 17 saves, shut out the Black Knights until a third-period goal by Jared Hussey.
Liverpool’s lone game this week is a tough one, venturing to Meachem Rink Thursday to face the Syracuse Cougars. C-NS, meanwhile, would host Fulton Tuesday before going to this weekend’s Canton Tournament.