Bucs celebrate

Three members of the Oswego varsity boys hockey team come together and celebrate a goal during the Bucs’ 5-1 win over Ontario Bay Thursday.

OSWEGO — No team wants to be forced to pause their season. But if the Oswego boys’ hockey team has to take a break, at least they’ll be starting it on a strong note.

Following the Oswego City School District’s return to remote learning, sports at the school have been halted through Dec. 27. The Buccaneers entered a Thursday night tilt against Ontario Bay, an eventual 5-1 Oswego win, knowing it would be their final day as a team for the time being. 

“I think we have to look at the positives,” said Oswego coach Kevin Ahern. “We’re looking forward to getting back, obviously. It’s the world we live in right now.”

At Crisafulli Ice Rink, however, the Buccaneers’ focus was solely on the game in front of them. Ahern said that entering the night, he hoped to limit some of Ontario Bay’s star players.

“They’ve got a very strong first line this year, and obviously their first defensive pair are offensive,” Ahern said. “We were really concentrating on attempting to slow those guys down.”

But the Storm came out firing, and scored the game’s first goal just 3:22 into the first period after defenseman Zach Blevins broke ahead, switching from his backhand to his forehand to push the puck past Oswego goalie Connor Calabro.

With a 1-0 lead, Ontario Bay continued to apply pressure throughout the period, outshooting the Bucs 9-3 heading into the first intermission. Ahern mentioned he wasn’t exactly pleased with his team’s play in the opening frame.

“Quite honestly, I thought our first period was as flat as we’ve been all season,” he said. “We talked about that in the room.”

Ahern’s talk did wonders, as Oswego dominated the second period, scoring five unanswered goals before the intermission.

The scoring started when Lukas Cady finished off a feed from Dan Donahue, beating a diving Colin Bennett to tie the game, 1-1. Just two and a half minutes later, it was Collin Cianfarano finishing a similar feed from Brayden Miller, putting the Bucs ahead 2-1.

Ahern noted that the gigantic swing between periods was a result of one thing: effort.

“The change was simple. It was about effort, and moving the puck, and believing in one another,” Ahern said. “We came out in the second period with a little bit more jump, and looked a little bit more like our team.”

Miller kept the goals coming, scoring twice in the span of two and a half minutes to extend the Bucs’ lead to 4-1. Cianfarano added his second before the end of the period, giving Oswego a 5-1 lead heading into the final frame.

Ahern credited Miller and Cianfarano, and the team’s other captains, Lukas Cady and Marcus Baker, for helping set an example to the rest of the team.

“They’ve definitely got to lead the way for us, but it’s got to be through more than scoring goals,” Ahern said. “They’ve got to do all the little things. … When those guys start doing all the little things right, that gets contagious.”

The third period came and went without any scoring, allowing Oswego to cruise to a 5-1 victory at home.

“In the third, we kind of settled back in a little bit,” Ahern said. “So we certainly didn’t play a whole game, but the good news is that we came out with a win.”

The Bucs were led by Cianfarano with two goals and two assists in the win. Miller scored twice and added an assist, while Lukas Cady recorded a goal.

Donahue, Parker Koproski, and Neil Roman all recorded an assist in the win for the Bucs. Calabro stopped 27 of 28 shots.

Ontario Bay’s lone goal was scored by Blevins, with an assist from Owen Newton. Bennett made 24 saves on 29 shots in the loss.

The Storm, now 4-2-1 on the season, return home to host Baldwinsville on Tuesday. Oswego, 3-1-1 after the win, will not be able to play or practice until at least Dec. 27.

Staying positive, Ahern added that the holiday season is ultimately “a good time of year” for a break, if there has to be one. 

“It happens to be the right thing for everybody,” Ahern said. “These kids have been through so much adversity the last two years, that a pause is just another bump in the road.”