To some it was a rematch of last season’s Federation championship. While others saw it as a chance to establish who is the true power in the league. But what it was most of all was a sign that shows how even the playing field is across the board.
Goalies Jenna Lukomski and Bri Gawronski were the stars of the day as Williamsville and Monsignor Martin Athletic Association skated to a 1-1 overtime tie in their WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation game that was played at the North Buffalo Ice Rink on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s not a statement game or a game of ‘there’s a new sheriff in town’,” said MMAA coach Linda Groff.
“The league is starting to even out and you know what, it’s a lot of fun to come in and watch games like this where they do go into overtime. It’s a battle of the goalies and back-and-forth hockey….It was just a really fun game.”
Entering the game riding the wave of momentum of a four game winning streak to open the season, Williamsville looked as if they would run it to five games when Jenna Piotrowski lifted the puck over Gawronski to give Williamsville a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the game.
Striking first gave Williamsville the boost they needed as they controlled the tempo for much of the first period in this fast paced game.
Monsignor Martin captain Kaitlin Drew-Mead showed the importance of following up a shot when she tied the game with 4:55 remaining in the second period. Drew-Mead raced in and fired her shot that was initially stopped by Williamsville’s Jenna Lukomski. But the right-handed shooting Drew-Mead alertly stayed with the play as she scooped up the loose puck to the right of the Williamsville net, circled in front then fired a wrist shot from the slot that beat Lukomski stick side.
But that was it in the way of offense as both keepers were stellar from the first drop of the puck until the final whistle. Lukomski stopped 30 of the 31 shots and was a rock in face of mounting pressure by the Monsignor Martin (2-1-1) squad, especially when they had a 5-on-3 power play in the second period.
“Jenna has been playing her best hockey the last three or four games,” said Williamsville coach Rich Hopkins.
“She played a hell of a game against OP/Frontier/Lake Shore the other day. She stole a point-and-a-half for us with the tie. They always say that your goalie has got to be your best penalty killer and when they had those two late power plays (In the third) Jenna was our best player.”
A point blank glove hand save six minutes into the third by Lukomski without question kept her team in the game.
“We came back from a loss (to them) last year and we wanted to win it,” Lukomski said. “We wanted to beat them and show them who is really the best team in the league.”
Gawronski, meanwhile, continued to show why she is among the best in the state as she turned away 31 of 32 shots and kept Williamsville at bay as their offense came at Gawronski in waves. Especially during a 5-on-3 power play that Williamsville had in the second period that Monsignor Martin killed off.
Gawronski agreed with Groff saying the fact that there is parity in the league means they must keep working even harder to stay in contention for the Federation title.
“I think we know that,” Gawronski said. “We know that we have to play hard. We can’t take a (day) off.”
Going down to a heart-stopping finish, both teams were preparing for a crucial face off in the Williamsville (4-0-1) end with 13 seconds left in OT, but unfortunately for the teams and fans the ending was anticlimactic.
Hopkins took a strategic time out, but when teams began to skate back to the face off circle the rink crew opened the doors for the Zamboni and informed both teams that the curfew rule was being enforced and the game was over because their game was overlapping into the practice time for a team from the Buffalo Bisons girls program.
Understandably disappointed and frustrated and disappointed, many wondered why they didn’t just let the girls finish the game and remarked this would never happen in a boys’ Fed game. But Linda Groff said that simply isn’t true.
“It is what it is. Boys get curfewed all the time,” Groff said. “A lot of the girls were saying I wonder if they curfew the boys federation? Yeah, they do. And you know what, when you rent ice you have a curfew and it is what it is.”
Groff expanded on her thoughts by adding that the Bisons were actually gracious enough to let them have some additional ice time.
“Shelley Looney, the director of the Bisons organization, was on after us and said because we’re friends I’ll let you have it until 6:10,” Groff said. “I said I appreciate it. I owe you big time. So we were at least able to get the overtime in. So if it wasn’t for Shelley we wouldn’t have been able to have (any of) the overtime.”
Leave a Reply