Heading into a busy regular-season homestretch, the Cazenovia ice hockey team knew that it could fall back in the Division I pecking order or make a climb to improve its eventual post-season standing.
A memorable Senior Night lat Monday at Morrisville State IcePlex saw the Lakers twice go in front of CNY Fusion (the newly combined Liverpool and Fulton team) and twice get answered, including a late comeback by Fusion that resulted in a 3-3 tie.
Cazenovia had 12 shots to Fusion’s one in the opening period, but Trevor Smith stopped all of them, and after Jack Donlin scored 25 seconds into the second period, Cal Brown countered on the very next shift.
Early in the third, Rhiley Montoya put Cazenovia back in front. Better yet, on a Fusion power play Shamus Newcomb earned a breakaway for Cazenovia and put it past Smith to make it 3-1 with 5:22 left.
However, a five-minute major penalty by the Lakers put Fusion into a man advantage. With 2:16 to play, a goal cut it to 3-2, then, six-on-four after Smith was pulled, Rodman scored with 51 seconds left in regulation.
Neither side would convert in overtime Tyler Bertrand, John LaPlante and Evan Haskins also earned assists for Fusion and Smith finished the night with 32 saves, more than twice the 14 from Cazenovia counterpart Tucker Ives.
Now it was on to a weekend trip north to face non-league competition, starting with Plattsburgh on Friday night in a game ruled by defenses until Donlin took over late and carried the Lakers to a 3-0 victory.
Two periods passed without a goal on either side. Cazenovia took 25 shots, more than twice Plattsburgh’s total, yet was unable to find the net.
A large portion of the third period passed scoreless, too, but Donlin, with 6:31 to play, finally put in the game’s first goal, assisted by Carson Spraker. Then a Lakers power play saw Donlin make it 2-0 with less than four minutes left, and into an empty net Donlin converted a third time for the hat trick. Ezra Stahlberg finished with 18 saves for the shutout.
A very different game unfolded Saturday afternoon against Northeast Clinton, but again the Lakers finished on top, this time by a 6-4 margin.
Here the Lakers didn’t wait to get on the board, Newcomb feeding Nat Gale for a goal before Donlin struck again, helping to create a 2-1 advantage through one period.
Northeast Clinton kept Cazenovia off the board and tied it 2-2, but again in the third the Lakers closed strong, and Henry Miller led the way, hitting on two goals supported by a second goal from Donlin and another from Jack Casey.
Having moved to 11-5-1 on the season, Cazenovia meets second-place Rome Free Academy at Kennnedy Arena next Tuesday before back-to-back trips to Ontario Bay and Ithaca later in the week that closes the regular season.