The last time we saw the Sweet Home Panthers they were skating off the ice at HarborCenter as NYSPHSAA Division II Champions. The boys varsity hockey team took the ice Thursday night for the first time to defend their crown against the Kenmore East Bulldogs, one of the first teams they beat in the post-season en route to their title.
The Panthers took advantage of a young Kenmore East squad that saw eight players make their federation debut. Sweet Home’s Connor Weiskerger scored a second period goal that proved to be the game winner in a 3-1 victory.
Eric Abbate scored two goals and Michael Lisman made 19 saves in the win for Sweet Home.
Lisman who has been the team’s number one goaltender the past three seasons came up big for his club time and again. Perhaps his biggest save of the game came in the third period when he stopped Bulldogs forward Dominic Cassillo on a breakaway while preserving a 2-1 lead.
“The guys feel comfortable I think, knowing that they can rely on me,” Lisman said after the win. “It’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
The Panthers Abbate scored the game’s opening goal but the Bulldogs responded soon after. Senior Michael Greiner ripped a shot in the top left-hand corner of the net off a feed from Nathan Lesinski.
Five minor penalties in the second period by Kenmore East and two more in the 3rd really hurt their momentum.
Sophomore goaltender Seamus McPhee played as well as his teammates could have hoped making 21 saves. Each one more difficult than the next. “He played fantastic,” head coach Kyle Pray said after the loss.
The Bulldogs have some very skilled players despite being a little undersized. Cassillo (10) being one of the more noticeable players along with returning captains and seniors Ryan Hahn, Aidan Bova, Greiner and junior Tyler LaPorta played well and will be counted on to log big minutes. Defenseman Jacob Orlowski (10), forward Eddie Jetter (9) and McPhee look like they will be key contributors as well once they have a few more games under their belt.
“I thought our inexperience showed at times but we worked the boards well,” Pray said. “At times we held onto the puck too long or didn’t get any traffic in front of the net and when you go up against a goalie like Lisman that’s what you need to do, have bodies in front.”
Blake Russo (SH), Cassillo and Nathan Lesinski (KE) all registered assists.
@wolf3328 Three Stars
1 – Michael Lisman (SH)
2 – Eric Abbate (SH)
3 – Seamus McPhee (KE)
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