The Shenendehowa hockey team spent a long Saturday night trying to earn an elusive berth in the state semifinals, but couldn't quite pull it off.
Erich Haney notched the game-winning goal with 2:22 left in the third overtime to give Section III champion West Genesee a 3-2 victory over the Plainsmen in the Division I regional final at a jam-packed Shove Park in Camillus.
After a shot by forward Tim Besio bounced off Shen goalie Nathan Mellow, Haney was there for the rebound, sending the puck past Mellow to end the marathon.
We got it down to Timmy Besio in the corner, said Haney. "He took a good shot, hit the goalie and it came right off his pads. I just back-handed it right in."
West Genesee head coach Frank Colabufo had plenty of praise for his opponent.
"Shen's a great team," said Colabuflo. "Fortunately, we got the bounce of the puck."
Haney's winning goal ended a scoring drought that lasted more than 50 minutes of ice time for the No. 2 state-ranked Wildcats.
The first period belonged to West Genesee as it tried to put things away early. Forward Ryan McConnell scored four minutes in on a highlight-reel play. McConnell stole the puck and skated down the ice with just one player to beat. He deked past the Plainsmen defender and ripped a shot top-self past Mellow to gain the early advantage.
Senior forward Conor Thompson added to the lead with 1:30 left in the opening period as he slashed down the left side and fired a shot high into the net. Junior defenseman Nate Halliwell assisted on both goals.
Shen came out fired up in the second period and tested West Genesee goaltender John Schlegel early and often. Schlegel remained flawless in the net until Plainsmen forward Adam Hitchko got his team on the board with a power play goal at the 9:16 mark.