BULLDOGS BEAT BILLIES, JUMP UP IN STANDINGS
Saturday’s contest between the Kenmore East Bulldogs and Williamsville South Billies at the Northtown Center had the potential to be a pitfall for the Bulldogs.
Coming into the game, the Billies had won just one game all season, so the possibility existed for the Bulldogs to overlook their opponent and think about the next game. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, their focus was solely on the Billies as they emerged victorious by a score of 4-1.
“I was a little bit worried about a letdown coming into today after our game against Grand Island, but I think we reacted well,” Bulldogs coach Kyle Pray said. “I thought our first period was pretty strong and it basically set the tempo for the rest of the game.”
The win also moves the Bulldogs up to fourth in the Division II standings and just behind West Seneca East, Grand Island and Kenmore West.
“We got off to a bit of a rough start this year – we were 1-3-1 – and now we’ve battled back to be 5-5-1 and we just need to keep it going,” Pray said. “This division is so close that we know that anyone can beat anyone else on any given night, so we just need to keep our momentum rolling.”
Sophomore Michael Greiner notched a pair of goals for the Bulldogs and Ryan Hahn and Zach Rice added scores of their own to clinch the win for Kenmore East.
Riggio feeds .@mikegreiner_42 to make it 4-1 @KEHockey over @billieshockey late 3rd @NorthTownCenter the Bulldogs (Div II Small school) have been playing really well as of late. @wnyfedhockey @nysswa @NYSPHSAA @travjax71 pic.twitter.com/pIkFTlXvI4
— Frank Wolf (@wolf3328) January 27, 2018
“I think one of the main changes from earlier this season was our confidence and our play with and without the puck has improved a lot, and we’re utilizing our speed better,” Pray said. “If we keep going the way we have lately, I think we can do some damage in the playoffs and hopefully make another deep run like we reached the state tournament in 2016.”
Leonard Higgins recorded the lone tally for the Billies.
PANTHERS PULL OFF WIN IN OVERTIME
A highly anticipated clash between the top two teams in Division III saw the Sweet Home Panthers come away with a 3-2 win over the St. Francis Red Raiders.
Needing extra time, the Panthers came up big, as Kyle Neudorf snapped home a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle to give his team a four-point lead in the standings.
“I think we played one of our better games this season today,” Panthers coach Dave Gerspach said. “St. Francis is probably the best team we’ve played all year, and to battle back, go through adversity and win in overtime, it’s an experience that can really help us out down the road.”
Joseph Torrillo kick-started his team’s fortunes by giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead just 33 seconds into the game, but the Red Raiders came roaring back only 16 seconds later on a goal by Connor Yuhas. The Panthers took the lead again when Tyler Edholm lit the lamp, courtesy of a wrist shot from the left wing side beating goaltender Vincent Vaccaro glove-side with 24.3 seconds to go in the first period.
No one would find the back of the net again until, ironically, there were just 24.3 seconds to go in the third period. Eric Pawelski tied the game up for the Red Raiders to force overtime, but Neudorf made sure his team wouldn’t lose.
All season long the combination of Torrillo, Edholm and Neudorf have proven to be the backbone of the Panthers’ offense, and Gerspach heaped praise upon them following the contest.
“They’ve been big for us all year long,” Gerspach said. “Tyler and Kyle have piled up some points and Joe’s really come around this year. He’s contributed on the scoresheet and he’s been a leader. Hopefully they can keep it up.”
MARAUDERS TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS, BEAT RED DEVILS
Heading into a Sunday matinee at the Buffalo State Ice Arena, the St. Joseph’s Marauders knew that they needed to come away with a win over a struggling Clarence Red Devils squad.
Having to keep pace with Williamsville North and Niagara-Wheatfield, the Marauders kept themselves in the Division I playoff picture by beating the Red Devils in a convincing 4-0 win.
“It’s a good win for us,” Marauders coach Richard Crozier said. “We’ve certainly had some challenges this season, but I think what we did today shows that we’re back on the right track.”
Ethan Louisos had a pair of goals, James Grable and C.J. Goss also scored and goaltender Daniel Mikolajczak recorded 16 saves to notch the shutout.
Mikolajczak’s performance in particular drew praise from Crozier, saying that his performance – like the rest of the team’s – was a bit off early in the season, but since then has righted the ship.
“Danny was awesome today,” Crozier said. “He was fantastic. He had a lot to prove this year, and this hasn’t exactly had the kind of season that we thought we would have, but I think the last chapter for our team is going to be great.”
SPARTANS TAKE DOWN TIGERS 6-1
The Williamsville North Spartans had two goals going into Sunday’s contest against the Bishop Timon-St. Jude Tigers – one team-oriented, the other individual.
The first, emerging with a victory, was accomplished rather handily, as the final score was 6-1. The other was helping senior Brett Sardina set a new school record for goals in a season, and that was also consummated without any hiccups along the way.
“Today, we came out right out of the gate and did some very good things effort-wise,” Spartans coach Bob Rosen said. “We’ve been concerned about that part of our game over our last few outings, so it’s good to see that issue being fixed.”
Any questions about the Spartans’ resolve were laid to rest in the first period, as Adam Graesser and Anthony Trigilio quickly built up a 2-0 lead. Hayden Sawynsky put the Tigers on the board a short while later but David O’Donoghue increased the Spartans’ lead to two goals on a wrist shot from the slot.
Kevin Martin made the score 4-1 midway through the second, and with less than 1:30 to go in the period, Sardina broke his team’s record with his 23rd goal of the year – making the score 5-1.
“There have been three guys who have had that record for a while now, and they were all amazing players for us. Brett is another one too,” Rosen said. “He’s only three goals away from the league record now, and you don’t get to that record without having good linemates.
“Brett and Andrew Bruno play very well together. Their vision on the ice is excellent, and they complement each other so well to the point where it’s almost as if they have a sixth sense when they play together. They’re one of the best one-two combinations we’ve had.”
Bruno sealed the win with a tally on a breakaway in the third period.
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