Through nearly two full games – one played early in the season, and another with a season on the line – ice hockey teams from Fayetteville-Manlius and CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt could not find any separation.
Only in the last seconds of regulation of Saturday night’s Section III Division I quarterfinal at Cicero Twin Rinks did the Hornets get that tiny bit of separation, making a single play that made the difference in a 4-3 victory over the Brothers, the F-M program’s first-ever win in a sectional game.
Once ahead 3-0 in this game, F-M had seen it melt away. Now, with the game tied 3-3, the Hornets had a face-off in its own end with less than a minute to play, with all the momentum seemingly on CBA/J-D’s side.
But the Hornets claimed the face-off, and within a few seconds Zach Bookman took the puck down the left side of the ice, outracing the Brothers’ defenders.
Then, near the corner, Bookman passed to the middle, where Will Duncanson charged in and, with a perfectly timed deflection with a backhand, put the puck past CBA/J-D goaltender Joe Salvador with 24.7 seconds left.
It proved the game-winner in a newly-formed series between two neighboring programs that didn’t play together in Division I until this winter. In their lone regular-season meeting Dec. 8 at the War Memorial, it ended 2-2.
More than two months later, both teams were in good form, the Hornets having gone 13-1 since that first meeting with the Brothers, who carried its own five-game win streak into the playoffs.
They played through most of the period 0-0, with CBA/J-D unable to convert on a pair of power plays. But in a harbinger of the ending ahead, F-M’s Ben Hammond went end-to-end with the puck and scored 18.8 seconds before the period ended.
Charged up by that goal, the Hornets got another positive turn in its favor when the Brothers’ Dylan Drury banged a shot off the crossbar early in the second period and, seconds later, F-M’s Jason Tedeschi converted on the power play.
When Trent McKiven, on another power play, fired home a goal late in the period and extended the Hornets’ margin to three, it threatened to get away – but just 12 seconds later, CBA/JD’s Simon Lessor answered to put the Brothers on the board.
It was still 3-1 when, with 12:37 left, CBA/J-D pulled within one when Kodi Dotterer’s backhand shot fluttered past Brandon Heyman. Less than three minutes later, the Brothers’ increased pressure produced a tying goal on a hard wrist shot from Bailey Doust.
Despite plenty of chances for CBA/J-D to complete its comeback and move out in front, it could not do so, and was on the brink of overtime before Duncanson, with plenty of help from Bookman, made the difference.
And it sends F-M into the sectional Division I semifinal, where on Wednesday night at 6:30 at Shove Park it will face no. 2 seed West Genesee.
The Wildcats won their lone regular-season encounter 4-0 early in December, but the rematch will determine who faces Syracuse or Baldwinsville in the sectional final Feb. 25 at the War Memorial.