While it is true that the Baldwinsville ice hockey team will return to the Section III Division I playoffs, it does so in a position far more unfamiliar than in years past.
The Bees won’t even have a post-season home game, having finished in sixth place in the Division I regular-season standings. In a 10-team sectional tournament, B’ville will need to go on the road for the sectional quarterfinals later this week.
All of this may have turned out different had the Bees prevailed last Tuesday against Fayetteville-Manlius at Lysander Arena, but despite having most of the good scoring chances, B’ville lost, 4-3, to the Hornets.
It was Senior Night, and the Bees were determined to make it special, but F-M inched into a 2-1 lead by the end of the first period and then traded goals with B’ville in each of the next two periods.
Mark Monaco, Braden Lynch and Matt Speelman netted goals for B’ville, with Parker Schroeder getting two assists. Monaco, Jamey Natoli, Luke Hoskin and Christian Treichler had one assist apiece.
Will Duncanson, with a goal and two assists, led a well-balanced F-M attack. Zach Bookman had one goal and one assist, with Ben Hammond and Colin Debejian also finding the net.
But the real story was in the net for F-M, who had only 17 shots of its own, but withstood twice as many as Hornets goalie Brandon Heyman finished with 31 saves.
And after all this, B’ville had to go to Meachem Rink Friday night to face Syracuse, who still had to win this game to clinch the regular-season title and playoff top seed over West Genesee.
Just as it had done back in December, though, the Cougars contained B’ville and prevailed 4-0, though in this game the outburst came in the middle, not at the end.
They were 0-0 going into the second period, but then Syracuse put four shots past Tommy Blais, who had already recorded 23 saves. Nate Frye, with one goal and two assists, led that charge as Philip Zollo, Ryan Eccles and Kyle Lamson also scored.
Brad O’Neill replaced Blais in the net and would stop all 15 shots he faced, but that didn’t spark B’ville’s attack, who only managed 16 shots all evening, which Alex Moreno stopped.
So the Bees finished fifth in the Division I regular-season standings, meaning that, in this Friday’s sectional quarterfinal at 7 p.m, it will face no. 4 seed Rome Free Academy (who beat them 4-1 back on Jan. 15) at Kennedy Arena.