WNY Athletics

Will East now at full strength

The Williamsville East Flames boys hockey team did something Monday they hadn’t done all season: play with a complete, healthy lineup.

“Tonight was the first time we’ve had our full lineup,” said Will East coach Mike Torrillo. “We’ve also been pushing these guys hard in practice and they’ve been responding to it. Leaders are stepping up and we now have more balanced scoring.”

The injury bug hit the Flames hard to start the season and it cost them – losing three of their first four games – and getting outscored 18-10 in the process.

Slowly but surely Will East was getting healthier, and it showed on the ice.

Since a big win over Iroquois-Alden on Dec. 20th, the Flames have won six of their last seven games.

Monday night Will East was able to premiere it’s full, healthy lineup and celebrated with a 4-1 defeat of North Tonawanda.

The extra bodies certainly helped. In the second period, the Flames were able to play up-tempo hockey, getting 13 shots on net.

“I think when you play at a fast pace you wear teams down,” Torrillo said. “I feel we have three lines who can play with anyone. I think our depth is something that is going to be positive for us in the playoffs.”

Will East now has 10 points to put them in fifth place in Division II. Only four of the Flames’ wins during the stretch counted toward the standings as the second game against Iroquois-Alden and Hamburg were non-league games.

Still, the wins give Williamsville East momentum as they face division leader Kenmore West at 7:45 p.m. on Friday at the Northtown Center.

“We’re just playing as a team,” said Jason Melanson, who leads the team with 22 points. “Now that we’re rolling we’re just gaining confidence. We just have to keep it going.”

The traditional small school power has had a couple of down years since reaching the sectional final every year from 2011-2016.

However, if the Flames continue rolling like they currently are, a trip back to KeyBank Center wouldn’t be out of the question.

“If we take care of our own zone, I like our chances,” Torrillo said. “We have a bravado, ‘if they don’t score, we can’t lose.’ If we stick to that model, the goals will come on their own.”

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