When the regular season ended, the Liverpool ice hockey team found itself behind Cicero-North Syracuse in the Division I standings, meaning that the Northstars would stay at home for the opening round of the Section III playoffs and the Warriors would go on the road.
Yet when all was settled in those playoff games last Wednesday night, it was Liverpool still alive after prevailing 3-2 over Cazenovia as C-NS saw its season reach an abrupt conclusion with a 6-4 defeat to Fulton.
The task for no. 9 seed Liverpool was to go to Morrisville State IcePlex and beat a Cazenovia side it lost to 4-2 less than a month earlier amid a five-game skid.
The rematch was far different, though. Liverpool’s defense, anchored by goaltender Gavin Buza, kept the Lakers off the board for the first two periods, where Buza earned most of his 23 saves.
Liverpool inched out in front, 1-0, before the second period was done, and then in the third period answered goals by Cazenovia’s James LeFever and Forrest Ives to maintain that edge, overcoming 36 saves by Logan Palmer.
These three Liverpool goals came from three different players – Pat Langlois, Jack Irwin and Connor Boland. Matt Gagnon anchored the Warriors, earning two assists as Irwin also got an assist.
As this went on, no. 7 seed C-NS welcomed no. 10 seed Fulton to the Twin Rinks, intent on avenging a 5-4 defeat to the Red Raiders on this same ice back in mid-January.
They were tied, 1-1, going into the second period, but in that frame Fulton went out in front, led by Joe Galvagno, who would earn a three-goal hat trick, and Derek Schumaker, who found the net twice.
Now trailing 4-3, C-NS tried to battle back, led by Jake DenBleyker’s three-goal hat trick and Holden Sarosy’s three assists. Matt Cramer had a goal and two assists as single assists went to Josh Matyasik and Devin Kellogg.
Yet Fulton, for all that it gave up, overcame a deficit of more than two-to-one in shots because Red Raiders goalie Jadon Lee, was sensational, turning away 53 of the Northstars’ 57 shots. By contrast, Jordan Miller made 19 saves for C-NS.
So it was Fulton moving on to the sectional quarterfinal at top seed Syracuse as Liverpool made its way to Shove Park to challenge no. 2 seed West Genesee in its sectional quarterfinal.
Having stayed relatively close to the Wildcats in a 4-2 defeat Jan. 25 at Lysander Arena, the Warriors knew it needed a similar effort, if not more, to have any chance in Camillus.
And there was a glimpse of hope before WG took over late and prevailed, 8-3. Penalties had hurt Liverpool throughout the first two periods as WG scored once in the opening frame and two more times in the second.
Down by three, the Warriors gave up another goal early in the third that made it 4-0, only to convert two quick ones to cut that deficit in half before the Wildcats erupted to score four times in that late stretch.
Dan Holzhauer, who had three goals and three assists, paced WG as the Warriors had Connor Boland score twice, with Marco Palumbo earning three assists. Xavier Springer had the other goal as Gagnon had two assists and Irwin one assist. Buza finished with 27 saves.
Liverpool finished its season 8-13-1, with C-NS going 10-10-1.