It’s the kind of moment that sticks with you forever. The type of memory that, no matter what happens after, can never be tarnished.

That first varsity goal.

“Yeah I do,” KenGI’s Izzy Bourgeault said with a smile. “It was against Williamsville in the third period. Basically, somebody just shot it and I just tipped it in and it was super cool.”

Katie Dougherty, a senior on FLOP, couldn’t help but smile when she reflected on her first career tally.

“It’s crazy how fast it went too,” she said. “My first goal was against KenGI. It was my very first game ever. I was a freshman. I didn’t play a lot because at the time my team was very, very good.”

Dougherty explained how FLOP was holding onto a one-goal lead and she hit the ice for a quick shift to give some of the veteran girls a breather.

Being a youngster on a senior-heavy team Dougherty was totally comfortable with whatever role she was asked to play. But like any girl she wanted to make an impact with her ice time, no matter how brief it might be.

“I remember going on the ice for a quick shift because I think some of the older girls needed a break,” Dougherty said. “I got a pass from I think Brooke Becker, and I shot it and I was so surprised! I was so excited to give us a bigger lead. I just shot it super fast. I didn’t even realize I scored until everyone got excited.”

Now in its 12th season, countless girls have had the thrill of scoring their first official goal as a varsity hockey player in the WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation.

It’s a milestone moment that has a positive ripple effect for players.

Along with being an awesome lifetime memory, it’s the watershed moment that tells a player she has officially arrived.

For Bourgeault, who scored her first goal as a seventh grader, it was a moment that told her she belongs in this league. That she can help her team win.

“I felt so accomplished,” said Bourgeault, a freshman.

The moment comes with a mix of pride and relief as girls know they have scored that all-important first goal and earned a little more respect from teammates and coaches, as well as opponents.

“I felt like there was so much pressure especially when you’re young and that I proved to my coaches and the older girls that I can do this,” said Dougherty.

Bourgeault has the game puck on a shelf in her bedroom. When times get tough and she feels like she is in a slump, looking at that puck and remembering the thrill of that first goal is a reminder that she still belongs.

“Yeah it definitely does,” said Bourgeault. “Whenever I look at it I just have a huge smile on my face and think that was my first goal in my seventh grade year.”

“When I’m in those little slumps I think I’m ok you proven to yourself that you can do this,” said Dougherty. “Just because you’ve made a mistake doesn’t mean it changes (what you’ve done).”

Niagara County senior Skylar Berube said that while that first goal was a great confidence booster if you are lucky you experience other goals that are even more memorable.

Like her first goal this year.

Berube had the first goal in a 7-2 win over HEWS. While the score looks lopsided, it was Berube’s crucial opening goal that set the tone for the Lady Warriors win over their rival, fittingly on senior night.

“We were in the power play and I told my teammates to settle it down and move the puck around,” said Berube. “I was given a great pass across the ice from one of the forwards, Sam Latini.  I was on the point, I took a nice one-timer shot and there was our first goal right away. And it allowed us to take control and win the game.”

Competition is part of the game. Obviously every girl, every team wants to win. To be the best. To earn a sectional and state title.

But at the same time, the WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation is also a sisterhood made up of deep friendships that are also cultivated through years as travel hockey teammates.

So when push comes to shove they all root for each other to succeed. And to all have those special moments that only a first goal can bring.

Willy-KenGI two game tussle:
This past week also saw two of the league’s charter members split their two game season series over a memorable three-day span.
Williamsville took the opener, 5-2, that was played at Lincoln Arena on Jan. 11.

KenGI took the rematch, 3-2, two days later when Bella Jayme netted the game-winner in overtime.

This opening game was Willy’s first in 20 days. So they had concerns of rink rust. Where as KenGI was playing in its fifth game since Jan.3.

“Two great teams and programs with a lot of history as far as sectional titles go And playoff games go,” said Williamsville coach Rick Hopkins. “It’s a good rivalry…ita a fun, challenging but intense rivalry. You also know that when you play the same team twice in three day stretch whichever team comes out on top better expect a great effort (second game) from the team that wasn’t successful the first game.”

That’s how’s it played out.

Williamsville had a little more jump in their step in the first game. Vanessa Willick and Aizah-Roze Thompson both scored twice. Thompson had the game-winner while the M&M Girls, Molly Martin (three points) and Diana Martucci (two assists), also hit the scoresheet and played solid defense.

KenGI took the rematch largely in part to the continued outstanding play from Bella Jayme who scored the game-winner in OT and the underrated Emiliana Cassillo who had a goal and an assist.

While the goal is to obviously win, Hopkins said to come away with four out of a possible six points against a team as good and as well coached as KenGI is definite plus.

“From that standpoint, it was a good week,” said Hopkins. “To get a split with the top team in the standings is always good regardless of where you are. Kenmore/GI they’re so strong every year. They’re so well coached and disciplined.”

Three stars:
1st: Vanessa Willick -Williamsville
Four goals, two short handed as this impact player keeps making her presence known.

2nd: Allison Greene -CASH
Three goals highlighted a five point week for the CASH captain.

3rd: Katie Dougherty -FLOP
Four helpers for Dougherty who proves she can set up as well as finish scoring chances.

Stick tap: Skylar Berube -NiCo
A power play goal and three assists from the senior blueliner.

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