Halfway through the regular season the Williamsville Girls Hockey team may not be perfect but they still remain unbeaten.
On Tuesday night, Williamsville (9-0-1) picked up their ninth win of the season when they defeated Kenmore/Grand Island (2-7-0) 3-1 in Girls Federation Hockey action.
Williamsville didn’t put themselves in a great position to start the game as they gave Kenmore/Grand Island a power play opportunity just a few minutes into the game.
Luckily for Williamsville they had Leah Czerwinski on their side. Czerwinski took advantage of a miscommunication by the Ken/GI defensemen and stole the puck, giving her a one-on-one with the goalie which she converted.
Czerwinski participated in all three Williamsville goals.
“Her speed is scary”, Williamsville Head Coach Rick Hopkins said. “She knows with her speed that she can take some chances on a penalty kill like she did tonight.”
Czerwinski is the team’s captain, a title which her coach believes that she no doubt deserves, saying “(Czerwinski) has been mature since eight grade. She leads by example and is well respected by her teammates.”
According to Czerwinski, she is just trying to live up to the standards set by the upperclassmen when she was in eighth grade.
“When I was in eighth grade, the upperclassman treated me so well, I feel like it is my duty to do the same thing”, Czerwinski said. “I try to take the underclassman under my wing.”
The game remained in control for Williamsville for the rest of the first period and all of the second. In the second period Williamsville killed off three penalties. The penalty kill has been one of the team’s biggest strengths as they have killed off more than 90 percent of their penalties this season.
However, it wasn’t going to be that easy for Williamsville. Less than a minute into the third period, Kenmore/Grand Island’s Carissa Buyea found forward Oliva Smith in front of the net to tie the game.
“You don’t expect anything but a great game from (Kenmore/Grand Island), they’re five-time defending sectional champions for a reason” Hopkins pointed out.
Finally, Williamsville got back in their rhythm as Amanda Gaffney took advantage of great positioning in front of the net and slipped one by to take back the lead.
Kenmore/Grand Island fought to the very end. Even to the point of diving to block shots in front of the empty net, trying to prevent an empty net goal in the game’s closing minutes.
“We played very for well for three periods, we just played against a good team in Williamsville”, Kenmore/Grand Island Head Coach Jeff Orlowski said after the game.
Kenmore/Grand Island is experiencing growing pains this year after graduating six players from last year including captain Grace Simmons and goaltender Cara Klopp.
“We’re young, but we’re getting close”, Orlowski said. “We lost three games in the third period at the very end.”
After the game, Hopkins was glad his team woke up in the third period.
“It’s a quality win” Hopkins said. “The girls came through, we emphasized getting pucks to the net and limiting their second opportunities and we did that.”
Despite being undefeated, Hopkins wants to make sure his team stays grounded.
“The girls know that people want to throw a lot of good praise at you when your undefeated halfway through the season, but it’s the first week in February where you want to be undefeated”, Hopkins warned.
Williamsville is currently in the middle of a stretch of four games in five nights. They will be in action on Thursday against Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence at 5:30pm and on Friday against Monsignor Martin at 4pm before winter break, both games will be played at the Northtown Center. Kenmore/Grand Island will play Orchard Park/Lake Shore/Frontier on Thursday at the Hamburg Nike rink at 4:30pm, before they go on winter break.