Camillus Cicero-North Syracuse's pursuit of an unprecedented championship as part of an unprecedented season is over. But West Genesee's pursuit of staggering history - namely, six consecutive Section III Division I ice hockey titles - remains alive and well.
In a tense, physical Division I semifinal Wednesday night at Shove Park, the Wildcats, sparked by a pair of short-handed goals and anchored by an airtight defense, took out the Northstars 2-1.
And it sets up yet another sectional final, on Saturday at Utica Memorial Auditorium, against Rome Free Academy, who beat Baldwinsville 5-2 in the other semifinal Tuesday at Kennedy Arena. It's the third straight year that the Black Knights have a shot at ending WG's title reign.
C-NS, of course, thought it would do the dethroning. Having spent the last month atop the state Division I rankings and carrying a 20-game unbeaten streak, the Northstars still only finished second, to RFA, in the East division during the regular season.
Because of that, the Northstars found itself going to Camillus for the semifinal game against the West division champion Wildcats, whom it beat 3-1 on Jan. 7 at Cicero Twin Rinks, though WG that game played without its senior captain, Robby Michel, due to injury.
Michel, and his fellow Wildcat defenders, were quite present on this night, and quite active at the start, too, as C-NS put up four shots in the opening minute, forcing WG goaltender Henry Burns to make some big early stops.
Unable to convert a power play midway through the first period, WG, instead, struck when the Northstars had the man advantage. Off an errant pass, sophomore defenseman Nick Mellen broke away, and when C-NS goalie Alex Johnston was unable to corral the initial shot, Mellen went high to convert the rebound.
That was the only goal of the first period. WG maintained its 1-0 edge until the three-minute mark of the second period, when C-NS defenseman Kyler Schilling, from the left point, crushed a slap shot that sailed over Burns shoulder into the top right corner of the net.