Baldwinsville defenseman Jacob Boshart (27) levels a Mohawk Valley player near the boards during last Friday’s Section III Division I playoff game, where the Bees prevailed, 3-2, over the Raiders.
While the Baldwinsville ice hockey team put together a 13-5-1 record and got home-ice advantage for the opening round of the Section III Division I playoffs, it wasn’t the ideal scenario.
Since it finished second in the Division I National Conference, the Bees, if it defeated Mohawk Valley in last Friday’s opening round at Lysander Arena, would run right into a semifinal against undefeated, state no. 1-ranked West Genesee at Shove Park.
Helped by a big mid-game push, B’ville did prevail, 3-2, over the Raiders, and when WG blitzed Liverpool 6-2, scoring five times in the first period, a Bees-Wildcats semifinal was set up, with the winner Wednesday getting Syracuse or Cicero-North Syracuse in the Feb. 26 sectional final at the War Memorial.
All of this was avoidable, had B’ville prevailed in last Monday night’s showdown with Syracuse at Meachem Rink, but once again the Bees’ attack went cold and it lost, 4-1, to the Cougars.
These teams had first met in early December at Lysander Arena in the Bobby Conklin Memorial Tournament, tying 1-1. Syracuse went on to win in a shootout, but it counted as a tie in the league standings.
Two months later, both the Cougars and Bees both had 21 points in the league standings, making the rematch at Meacham winner-take-all for the league title.
On a power play midway through the first period, Syracuse’s Nate Frye capped a series of sharp passes and, standing near the net, put the Cougars in front, only to have B’ville pull even on its own power play as Alex Schmidt converted off a feed from Mark Monaco.
Then, just after the Bees had killed off another Cougars man advantage, Syracuse’s Sean Eccles took the puck deep in his own end and started up the ice. He tore past all of the B’ville defenders and, from the left point, fired a hard shot past B”ville goalie Jeremy Rappard.
Though that goal came with 2:03 left in the first period, it proved a blow from which the Bees could not fully recover.Twice in the second period, Syracuse applied pressure and, when Rappard was unable to hold on to the puck, Philip Zollo swooped in and converted the rebounds.
Having expanded its lead, the Cougars’ defense protected it well during the third period, rarely letting pucks get to goaltender Jack Klawitter, who still managed to make key stops whenever B’ville tried to inch closer. Overall, Klawitter made 27 saves.
B’ville now had to regroup for Mohawk Valley, whom it handled 6-2 back on Dec. 30, but would prove a lot tougher the second time around.
It stayed 0-0 until the second period, when the Bees’ dormant attack came to life. Tanner McCaffrey twice assisted as Ben Dwyer, Brett Sabourin and Parker Schroeder took turns putting in goals, assists also going to Mark Monaco and Isaiah Pompo.
Leading 3-1 with one period left, the Bees could not add to that margin, even though it dominated the flow of play and kept the puck in Central Valley’s end for most of the night.
Michael Eastman’s 48 saves allowed the Raiders to stay close to the end, with Henry Froass notching one goal and assisting on the other, by Ron Alesandro.
B’ville held on, though, and now got ready to go to Shove Park, perhaps remembering that it took West Genesee to overtime in December on that same Camillus ice and hoping that, this time around, it could do something greater.