Ear to ear. That was the size of the smile on Emma Roland’s face following Williamsville’s 3-2 OT win Monday night over Kenmore/Grand Island (KenGI). Roland scored all three goals for Williamsville as they won the Section VI title for the second straight season.
Williamsville came into the playoffs as the favorite and were expected to win Monday. But head coach Rick Hopkins was not making plans for Lake Placid, NY just yet. “This is going to be a close one,” Hopkins said shortly after arriving to the Cornerstone Arena in Lockport. “KenGI is well coached and very good defensively. We’ll have to play our best game tonight.”
Hopkins’ prediction proved to be right. Roland scored early in the first period to give Williamsville a quick 1-0 lead. It was the first goal of the Sectional playoffs KenGI netminder and 9th grader Carolyn Bourgeault gave up. The freshman blanked Hamburg/Eden/West Seneca in the quarterfinals and then Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew last Thursday in the semis.
The goal turned out to be just what Bourgeault needed. “That took a lot of weight off her shoulders,” KenGI head coach Jeff Orlowski said. “The goal really settled her down I thought and she went onto make some really big saves for us and gave us that chance we needed.”
Despite the early deficit KenGI didn’t seem to waiver. Izzy Bourgeault, Carolyn’s 7th grade sister tied the game up at 13:36 of the first. The goal energized the KenGI bench who soon after found themselves on the power play. Kaylynn Savoy, a senior from Grand Island, put KenGI out front.
Williamsville found themselves trailing 2-1 after the first period. “We told the girls there was still a lot of hockey left to be played,” Hopkins said. “They didn’t get down on themselves and they continued to push on.”
Williamsville kept the pressure on in the second. It was Bourgeault, however, that kept KenGI out front. She made one tough save after another, frustrating the Williamsville offense. “She was good and was tough to beat,” Williamsville captain Jenna Cavalieri said. “We had a lot of chances but she wasn’t giving up any rebounds.”
Williamsville caught a break late in the second period. Roland slipped into the KenGI zone and worked her way into some open space and rifled a wrist shot blocker side that found the back of the net, tying the game 2-2. The goal gave new life to Williamsville.
In the third period the teams exchanged a number of scoring opportunities including one shot that rang off the Williamsville goal post. The officials let the girls play too. It was a physical affair with a lot of skirmishes in the goal mouth area at either end of the rink. Neither team scored in the third period and the teams headed to overtime.
Interesting enough, these two teams have a history of overtime playoff games throughout the 10-year history of Girls Fed. Both KenGI and Williamsville have recorded double-OT wins against one another.
Orlowski and Hopkins have been here since the beginning.
Roland’s OT winner came just under a minute into the final period. “That was an opportunity you can’t miss on,” Roland said. “I took the puck in and faked a shot across the net and tucked it in short-side and that was one of the best feelings ever.”
It’s the second straight OT win for Williamsville in the Section VI Championship; last year it was Emma’s sister Erin who provided the game winner.
Senior goaltender Mia Wendell made 13 saves for Williamsville in the win. Laura Kaplan played very well in her own end, breaking up a number of KenGI scoring opportunities.
Williamsville will now face Section VII’s Plattsburgh (10-8) on Friday at 8pm with the winner moving on to Saturday night’s NYSPHSAA Championship. Friday night Hopkins will be coaching in his 200th game for Williamsville.
*** The photo used in this article was provided courtesy of Matt Bove from WKBW ***