Camillus At even strength, the Liverpool ice hockey team managed to do something special on Friday night and play on even terms with West Genesee, the state's top-ranked Division I team.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, it was those situations where there wasn't an equal amount of skaters on the ice that proved costly - and helped the Wildcats prevail 3-0 in Friday night's clash at Shove Park in Camillus.
Just by starting the season 7-3, Liverpool had already proven that it was far removed from its recent on-ice struggles. Still, the Warriors, like any other local large-school program, measures itself against West Genesee, winners of the last five Section III titles and after another crown in 2014.
Early nerves were in place for Liverpool, as evidenced by the way it easily surrendered the puck in its own end, giving WG a string of early opportunities. The Wildcats took seven shots in the first six minutes, but freshman goalie Steven Kozikoski stopped all of them.
As the Warriors settled down late in the period, it got a power-play opportunity, only to come up empty. Then, on WG's first man advantage with 48.7 seconds left in the period, David Procopio's wrist shot from the point beat Kozikoski, and Liverpool trailed 1-0.
It stayed that way through much of an evenly played second period. The Warriors started to pick up its attack and got plenty of chances to pull even, only to meet frustration as Richie Hart pumped one shot off the post and WG goalie Henry Burns twice stopped Dalton Horton on point-blank looks.
Then, late in the second period, the game's pivotal sequence took place. A boarding penalty by Procopio gave Liverpool a four-minute power play that would extend into the third period.
But with 39.1 seconds left in the period, the Wildcats, well-known for its capability when a man down, burned the Warriors as Nick Mellen nabbed a short-handed goal, assisted by Corey Raaflub.