Wildcats win sixth straight sectional hockey title

WG holds off Rome Free Academy, 3-2

— This was supposed to be the year that youth, and the law of averages, finally worked against the West Genesee ice hockey team, and someone else was going to sit atop the Section III Division I ranks.

Yet there were the Wildcats, celebrating again on the ice at Utica Memorial Auditorium, Saturday afternoon in the wake of beating Rome Free Academy 3-2 in the Division I title game.

That makes it six consecutive sectional championships for WG. Senior captain Robby Michel, who has played on four of those title teams, said he was as amazed as anyone else by the continuation of this dynasty.

"You can't put words to it," said Michel. "It's just unbelievable. We just stuck to our system, and we can beat anyone in the state."

Head coach Frank Colabufo, who led a team with just three seniors on its roster to the top again, said his team's up-and-down nature made the championship sweeter to achieve.

"The kids believe in this system and did it together," he said. "This is a really young team that had to endure a lot. I'm so proud of them."

One of the things the Wildcats endured was a 4-3 defeat to RFA on Dec. 21 at Kennedy Arena. It gave the Black Knights confidence going into the title-game rematch, the third straight year these budding rivals were battling for the sectional banner.

They played through most of the first period 0-0, despite a rash of penalties that gave both teams multiple power plays. WG got an early boost of confidence from killing off a three-minute RFA power play in the early going as goaltender Henry Burns made a series of key stops.

Late in the period, the Wildcats got another power play. David Procopio won the face-off and flicked it back to Michel, whose wrist shot flew through a screen set up by Aaron Jones past Black Knights goaltender Andrew Ross at the 13:46 mark.

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