The Ithaca High boys hockey team will look to send its nine seniors out on a winning note Saturday when it hosts Section 3 rival West Genesee in its final home game of the season. Faceoff at Lynah Rink is slated for 7 p.m.
The Little Red’s seniors — captain Luke Mendola, assistant captain Wilson Gearhart, Michael Abdulky, Carson Case, Balazs Sgletes, Ryan Emerson, Dakota Baylor, Dylan Riker and Gibson Gilmore — will be recognized for their contributions in a ceremony slated for 6 p.m.
“The leadership we’ve gotten this year from our seniors has been priceless,” first-year coach Paul Zarach said. “Our captain, Luke Mendola, has gone above and beyond anything I would expect from a high school hockey captain. And our other seniors have all done a good job of taking on being leaders in their own ways.”
Ithaca (9-4-0) is coming off a disappointing 4-1 loss to Baldwinsville on Thursday night at Lynah. The Bees (7-5-1) fell behind midway through the first period but tied the game 12 seconds later and went on to the victory. Senior Parker Ferrigan had two goals and an assist and goalie Josh Pinard stopped 19 shots to lead the winners.
Ithaca was outshot, 26-20, and took nine penalties that resulted in three power-play goals for the Bees.
“The No. 1 problem was penalties,” Zarach said. “I think some of it was us being undisciplined, some of it was us not moving our feet, and some of it was frustration.”
Zarach was particularly bewildered with his team’s effort considering its performance three nights earlier in a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Fayetteville-Manlius.
“We had one of our best games of the season, if not the best,” he said. “And then we had a really good practice on Wednesday. If you’d have told me that this was going to be the outcome, I would have said you were going to be wrong. I really thought we’d be as hungry to give the same kind of effort we gave Monday.”
The loss prompted Zarach to bring his team back onto the ice, in uniform, after the rink cleared for a brief skate.
Abdulky had the lone goal for the Little Red on Thursday night, and moved into a tie for second on the team in scoring (8 goals-6 assists-14 points). Junior Chandler Pfaff (9-8-17) leads in scoring, with Gearhart (9-5-14) sharing the goal-scoring lead with Pfaff.
Junior goalie Brandon Kasel has a 1.70 goals-against and a .940 save percentage. Riker got the start on Thursday and stopped 22 of 26 shots.
The Wildcats (6-5-1, 5-3-0 Section 3 Div. I West), ranked 12th in the state Division I poll, are a point ahead of the Bees in the division standings. They lost in their most recent outing, 3-1, on Monday to fourth-ranked Cicero-North Syracuse (12-1-0). Tim Sexton had the lone goal for the Wildcats and goalie Henry Burns made 24 saves.
The Little Red will close the regular season with six straight road games, plus a pair of road exhibition games, before the state regionals begin March 2. Next up after Saturday will be a trip to Meachem Rink on Wednesday to take on Syracuse; Ithaca will then head downstate next Friday and Saturday to take part in the Suffern Tournament, hosted by the state’s top-ranked team.