Now they were lined up, the West Genesee and Syracuse ice hockey teams, heading their respective Section III Division I playoff brackets, bound for a title-game rematch Feb. 26 at the War Memorial if both made it through two home games.
That was the key part, because had the Cougars not defeated Baldwinsville 4-1 last Monday night in the regular-season finale, Syracuse would have found itself in the same half of the bracket as the undefeated, state no. 1-ranked Wildcats and lined up for a possible semifinal at Shove Park.
Instead, Syracuse wouldn’t have to leave Meachem Rink for the early rounds, a byproduct of the fine all-around effort it put up during its showdown with B’ville for the Division I National Conference regular-season title.
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, Nate Frye capped a series of sharp passes and, standing near the net, put Syracuse in front, only to have B’ville pull even on its own power play as Alex Schmidt converted.
Then, just after the Bees had killed off another Cougars man advantage, 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 the game-winner, 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. Jack Grooms, Hugh White and the rest of Syracuse’s back-line players rarely let 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.
So now the playoffs got underway Friday night, with Syracuse hosting Fayetteville-Manlius and West Genesee taking on the same Liverpool side it shut out 4-0 a week earlier.
WG had not scored until the second period of that first encounter with the Warriors. Here, it would find the net five times in the first period alone, crusing from there to prevail 6-2 to improve its record to 20-0.
During that 5-0 first-period surge, WG had 21 shots to Liverpool’s two. Dan Colabufo and Patrick McDonald both scored twice, with one of McDonald’s goals short-handed as he assisted on both of Colabufo’s tallies.
Joe Comins joined in with a goal as John Bergan, Ryan Smith, Jimmy Bergan, Dan Holzhauer and Mike McGuigan each picked up assists. Then, in the second period, Colabufo completed his hat trick as McDonald earned a third assist. A pair of Liverpool goals in the third period only mattered in that it broke up WG’s shutout.
Now the Wildcats prepare for a sectional semifinal against B’ville, who held off Rome Free Academy 3-2 to advance. Back in December at Shove Park, the Bees pushed WG to overtime but lost by that same 3-2 margin on Billy Fisher’s breakaway goal.
Meanwhile, at Meachem, Syracuse beat F-M by a nearly identical margin, but its 6-1 victory didn’t involve an early blitz as it only led 2-0 after one period, but expanded that margin by scoring three times in the second period.
Bryan O’Mara notched two goals, with single goals going to Zollo, Kyle Lamson, Ryan Durand and Skariwate Papineau. Nine different players – Zollo, Eccles, Frye, Grooms, White, Kaleb Benedict, Mack Etoll, Steve Matro and Joe Lamson – earned one assist apiece.
When Cicero-North Syracuse beat Mohawk Valley 3-1, it set up a sectional semifinal between the Cougars and Northstars Wednesday at Meachem. Syracuse shut out C-NS 4-0 when they met in early January.
Feb 17, 2019
Feb 17, 2019
Feb 17, 2019