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Hockey Wildcats blank IHC, move to semifinals

West Genny to face C-NS in potential classic

— All the upheaval in the Section III Division I ice hockey playoff bracket, caused by the ouster of Fayetteville-Manlius for playing one game too many, left one side untouched - which just happened to be the side that has ruled this section for the last four years.

West Genesee, of course, is dead-set on winning five championships in a row, and set out toward that rarified air in Friday night's opening round of the Division I playoff, where it efficiently cast aside Watertown IHC in a 6-0 shutout at Shove Park.

Unbeaten in its last eight games (7-0-1) going into the playoffs, WG again worked from a top seed and was playing a Cavaliers side that made the playoffs as a no. 4 seed despite a 3-14-1 mark.

But that didn't mean the Wildcats (who beat IHC 7-0 on Jan. 4) took the task lightly. Right from the start, it attacked hard, and three times in the first period WG put shots past Cavaliers goaltender Grant Chamberlain.

As the game wore on, the margin doubled, WG putting together 35 shots while its airtight defense limited the Cavaliers to just eight shots.

More impressive was the fact that those six goals came from six different players. Robbie Michel, Ryan McDonald, David Procopio, Corey Raaflub, Granger Sasso and Steve Anderson each took turns scoring, with McDonald and Sasso each adding an assist.

Collin Kobuszewski proved an anchor for WG's attack, earning a season-best three assists. Derek Farrell, Matt McDonald and Mike Philippone earned one assist apiece.

This leads to a much bigger challenge in next Wednesday night's Division I semifinal, where Cicero-North Syracuse, who shares the no. 1 state ranking with Rome Free Academy and owns a 20-game unbeaten streak, meets the Wildcats at 7:30 at Shove Park.

It was the Northstars who gave WG its last defeat, 3-1, on Jan. 7, right before Michel returned from the injury that sidelined him in mid-season. Even without its senior captain, the Wildcats did a solid job containing C-NS's potent top line of Eric Hamilton, Jesse Farabee and Matt Fiume.

WG must do so again, if it wants to go back to Utica Memorial Auditorium next Saturday to play in yet another sectional final against RFA or Baldwinsville.

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