WNY Athletics

WNY Fed Hockey: Falcons And Bulldogs Win Close Ones

By Dave Ricci

Right now, for the Falcons, it isn’t about peaking too soon. It’s about realizing their potential.
Sophomore Peyton Siegmann stopped 20 shots and senior Matt Pawlak scored the game winner as Niagara Wheatfield scored a hard fought 3-2 win over Lancaster in WNY Ice Hockey Federation Division I action that was played on the KeyBank Rink at the HarborCenter on Friday, Dec.23.

Winning their third game in a row the victory gives the Falcons (3-2, 4-3) six points in league and lifts them from last place into third, three points behind first place Orchard Park.

Coming off a 19-save 4-0 shutout win over Canisius on Thursday, Siegmann got the call for a second night in a row and was brilliant. While the Crusaders never really seemed to test Siegmann the Legends had a few chances in the first that proved to be valuable as those early touches got him into the game. “It was different than Canisius. I got a few shots in the beginning,” Siegmann said. “I normally like getting shots in the beginning to get warmed up.”

The Legends were able to tie the game on goals by Shawn Kross and Mike Shaver, with Shaver’s goal coming 3:20 into the third period.
Lancaster coach Kevin Miller felt that his team did a good job of creating chances and did give a good effort as the game went on, but was crystal clear when he said he felt his team was capable of more and that today was a lesson about the dangers of a slow start.
“I agree that the effort was there, but it was too late,” Miller said. “Niagara Wheatfield took it to us early. They out played us. They out skated us. They out shot us….I give their team a lot of credit. They had better quality chances. Our team came out flat and they just took advantage of us.”

Miller said that his boys’ were very unhappy with how they played as a whole and feels they have learned a lesson that will pay off down the road.

The Falcons took the 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the game when Matt Pawlak set up Spencer Franks.
“It felt amazing,” Franks said. “It felt great. I made a good defensive play picking off the pass. I just closed my eyes and fired it.”
Franks would return the favor as it was him who dished the puck to Pawlak for the game winner and his first goal of the season. Pawlak picked the corner over the glove hand of Lancaster goalie Justin Stotz.

“Our team, we don’t have a superstar,” Siegmann said. “We all just give (equally) to the team.”

While the Falcons history shows they tend to get hot at the end of the regular season and just ride that wave through the playoffs, coach Rick Wrazin said this year it is more about the process of finding their identity. Wrazin said the quicker that process moves the sooner this group will realize just how good they are, and how good they can be.

“I think that’s really what we’re seeing and that’s kinda what we’ve been talking about all year,” Wrazin said.
“We had a 1-3 start and the win was a shoot-out. We’ve kind of just been telling them all year you have to be patient. Right now it’s not about the result, it’s about the process. You can see now that they’re getting a little more success, they’re understanding it more. They’re buying into it and playing the way that we know they can play. And to be honest, as far as peaking too early, I think there is so much potential in this team that they’ll keep growing.”

Michael LoTempio slid the puck to Chris Tobey in the slot to give Niagara Wheatfield the 2-0 lead early in the second period.

Division II: Hamburg 4 Kenmore East 3 OT

Owen Gonter’s OT winner gave Hamburg the ‘W’ in this Battle of the Bulldogs. Gonter, a junior defenseman, was set up by senior Jason Delmont. The goal completed the comeback win for Hamburg after falling behind 2-0.

“I think as a hole we’ve been in that situation in the other side of the game against Timon in our first game. We’re up 3-1 and we came out slow in the third period and they came back and won in overtime,” Gonter said. “I think that game helped us out to build good character and to know we can’t back off. We’ve got to keep rolling.”

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