West Genesee ice hockey fans enjoyed the familiar feeling of winning yet another Section III Division I title, but could have gladly done without another sense of familiarity that popped up once it went beyond the sectional realm.
When the Wildcats fell, 3-2, to Rochester McQuaid in triple overtime in Saturday’s state quarterfinal game at Thomas Creek Ice Arena in Fairport, it marked the third consecutive year that WG’s state title dreams were ended in a long, drawn-out affair.
Back in 2011, it was Williamsville South stopping the Wildcats in four OTs in this same round. A year ago, it was Suffern surviving a shoot-out with WG in the state semifinal at Utica Memorial Auditorium. Both of those teams went on to capture the state championship.
Whether McQuaid, the Section V champions, does so this weekend in Utica at the latest edition of the state final four remains an open question, but regardless of the Knights’ fate, it could not lessen the pain that WG felt getting stopped again in this manner.
Going in, the consensus was that whoever won the battle between McQuaid’s deep, fast attack and WG’s tough, swarming defense would come out on top. It took a long time to figure that out.
Trying to seize early control, the Knights were physical, and that play led to a 1-0 lead 4:50 into the first period when Michael Capicotto’s centering attempt deflected past Wildcat goalie Henry Burns.
WG, trailing for the first time in the post-season, kept the margin at one largely due to Burns, who recorded 10 first-period saves.
Then in the second period, the Wildcats struck back. Like in its sectional playoffs wins over Cicero-North Syracuse and Rome Free Academy, the Wildcats would take advantage of special teams, only this time it was on the power play, not short-handed.