2018 WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation Preview
Puck drop for season number nine is inching closer and closer and the excitement is high as the WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation has now expanded to eight teams.
And with the state tourney returning to HarborCenter for the first time since 2015 the desire to raise that championship plaque is burning inside every player.
Frontier/Lake Shore/ Orchard Park
Known as “the FLOP”
2017: 12-2-3-0-1 (41.5)
Won Section VI, WNYGVIHF and the State Title
“It’s our title to defend.” Those are the words head coach Bob Klimowicz used when he and his team met on the first day of practice.
“We addressed it as it’s ours to defend,” Klimowicz said. “People are gonna be coming after us. That means we’ve got to step up our game.”
It was a year to remember for Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park as they pulled off the trifecta in winning Section VI, WNY Federation and the NYSPHSAA title – becoming the first Section VI team to win states.
FLOP’s quest to repeat will not be easy as they graduated three of their top four defensemen; Gabby DeMeo, Sirena Fitzery and Tori Fadeley.
As well as three of their top six forwards; Haylee Tatar, Taylor Gehen and Emily Kromer who was by far their most dangerous forward.
FLOP, however, does return the dynamic goalie duo of seniors Maggie Spyche and Tori Cottrell.
Senior forward Jessica Peters and junior defenseman Brooke Becker also return.
Though they lost some very skilled girls FLOP hasn’t lost the blue collar mentality that was the root of last year’s success.
The willingness to get their hands dirty is still there.
“Coach (Klimowicz) said we are not the most talented team. We are not the most skilled team,” Brooke Becker said. “We are the hardest working team out there. The whole reason why we won all these championships is because we have such heart and such hard working girls.”
Two players that could make an impact are Gabbey Messing and Jenna Dickson, both sophomore forwards.
This will be Klimowicz’s third season as head coach after spending the previous 16 coaching the boy’s hockey team at Frontier.
Outlook: Brooke Becker might be the best player in the State, not just the Fed. Having her back along with outstanding goaltending, this team is still dangerous. They are the frontrunners.
Known as “CASH”
2017: 9-4-1-3-1 (35.5)
Last year: Lost in Section VI Semi-Finals and in the WNYGVIHF Finals
CASH gave a very good accounting of themselves last season, reaching the Fed title game before falling to eventual State winner, FLOP.
Senior forwards Emma Faso, Charleigh Rondeau and sophomore goalie Hannah Barrett return with a ton of experience and a chip on their shoulder. They know they have more to prove and are looking to do just that in 2018.
Faso reached the 100-point plateau last season as a junior and enters her final season at 115. Rondeau is always dangerous around the net.
Head Coach Nicola Adimey is in her sixth year and will continue to challenge her players to do better and to work their hardest.
Adimey says that defensively the team might be young on paper but there are players returning with a year of Fed experience. Sara Barrett, Lilli Adimey, Bella Clary and Madison Leeper all played well in 2017 and will be counted on this season to contribute even more.
Adimey’s message to her players this season will be to “Take one game, one opponent at a time. Acknowledge mistakes and work on not repeating them. Work on our power play and stay disciplined to stay out of the box, be the first to the puck. We need to build on the success from last season,” Adimey said. “And finally win a championship for our schools.”
Outlook: This might be the most balanced team Adimey has ever had. CASH has as good a chance as any team to win the Section.
Williamsville North, South and East
Known as “Williamsville”
2017: 10-6-1-1-0 (33.5)
Last year: Lost in the Section VI Finals and in the WNYGVIHF Semi-Finals
This perennial contender lost some big pieces of the puzzle with the graduation of goalie Jenna Lukomski and top offensive threat Holly Schmelzer, but the talent pool is still deep.
Amanda Gaffney is also gone. She, along with Schmelzer finished in the Top-10 in scoring.
Williamsville returns forwards Sam Ingham and Jenna Cavalieri as well as center Emma Roland.
Elisabeth Sidorski, Erin Roland and Laura Kaplan will be the core of what should be one of the best defenses in the league.
Head Coach Rick Hopkins returns and nobody knows girl’s hockey better than him. This will be a competitive group.
Outlook: Williamsville will be looking to redeem themselves after losing to FLOP in the Section VI title game and Fed semifinals. This team has lost a lot of offense to graduation but defensively, they will be tough to score on. In the end, Williamsville always rises to the challenge and are never too far behind.
2017: 12-3-2-0-1 (40)
Lost 4-3 OT in the WNYGVIHF Semi-Finals
The blend of Catholic schools remains a top contender for the Fed title. MMAA returns a strong core of players with something to prove after suffering an overtime loss to CASH in last year’s semifinals.
Leading the way is All-Fed goalie Grace Harrington and forward Emily Matthews.
MacKenzie Blake and Ava Tower are the team’s top blue liners.
Forward Isabelle Friedman and goalie Bella Battaglia are also key.
Outlook: MMAA is always in contention
Known as LIDs
2017: 6-10-1-1-0 (21.5)
Lost in the Section VI Semi-Finals
The Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew faction could be the team to keep your eye on.
Finishing in fifth place in the regular season, LIDs beat KenGi in the sectional quarterfinals and fell to the FLOP in the opening round of the Fed playoffs.
Impressive enough to earn David Santoro Coach of the Year.
LIDs will look to Jersey Phillips, who is verbally committed to Mercyhurst, to lead the offense.
Goalie Dylan Gorski, Jill Blas (D), Morganne Dee and Beth Horvatits also factor into the plan.
Outlook: It’s been a while since LIDs has competed consistently in the Fed. Things should be different this season with another year under their belts. If LIDs can generate a little more offense there is no reason to think they can’t take a big step forward this season.
Hamburg/Eden/West Seneca East & West
Known as HEWS
2017: 1-15-2-0-0 (6)
Lost in the Quarter-Finals in both the Section VI and WNYGVIHF playoffs
With 16 players between grades eight through 10, last season was, to say the least, a challenge for Hamburg/Eden/West Seneca.
Time will tell what that trial by fire had on this group as they come into the new season.
Junior Sarah Mruk and Camryn Geising, who made the team as a seventh grader, will be big parts of turning HEWS’ fortunes around.
Kenmore East/West and Grand Island
Known as KenGI
2017: 2-12-2-0-2 (11)
Lost in the Quarter-Finals in both the Section VI and WNYGVIHF playoffs
The reality is 2018-19 could very well be a long year for Kenmore/Grand Island. They graduated some key pieces (Nina Stockman, Jenna House and Rosie Boyko); goaltending is a question mark and numbers are down.
But players like defenseman Chloe Moore and forwards Jaclyn MacVittie, Kaylynn Savoy and Abby Blair will make sure the team does not let the word “rebuild” be used as an excuse to not give your best. Defensemen Emma Marzec, Emma Epstein and forwards Carissa Buyea and Molly Leggett also return and will be counted on even more this season.
Head Coach Jeff Orlowski returns for his 9th season, with five Section VI titles and a Fed title in the war chest.
Goaltending has been a strong suit for Orlowski’s team in the past; with the loss of Ellie Simmons, KenGI will rely heavily on Carolyn Bourgeault (Grade 8) and Allison Hill (2021) between the pipes. Bourgeault did see some action last season.
A couple of new players that could make an impact this season are Tessa Morris and Emiliana Cassillo.
Outlook: Expect the unexpected with this young group. Blair and Savoy are talented up front combining for 18 goals in 2017, but there is a drop off beyond that scoring duo. KenGI will need to find some more offense in order to catch up with CASH and the FLOP.
Known as NiCo
Welcome number eight!
The wait is over as Niagara County finally has its own team. A merged effort between Starpoint and Niagara Wheatfield make up the expansion.
Ironically North Tonawanda, which had come out of nowhere to join the mix as the third team, has just as mysteriously pulled out.
NT had almost two dozen girls sign up, but when the first day on the ice came (Nov 6th) none of the players showed up.
When NiCo coach Greg Grosskopf called the NT athletic director he was told girls were no longer interested in playing.
Numbers (21 players) are strong enough to sustain NiCo for the year. Lewiston-Porter is reportedly on board to play next year.
Special for multiple reasons – this is not only the Girls Fed’s first venture into Niagara County, it also marks the first true expansion in league history.
NiCo will look to Julia Gerspach (daughter of Sweet Home boy’s hockey coach Dave Gerspach), Amanda Jackson, Sarah Jackson and Natalie O’Brien to lead the way.
Outlook: It takes time for new teams to gel at any level (unless you are the Vegas Golden Knights). Expect NiCo to take some lumps early but should be ready for the playoffs.
Nov 26th, 2018
The season kicks off as Niagara County will host Monsignor Martin at Hockey Outlet at 5:30pm.
Feb 4th, 2019
Section VI title game at HarborCenter
Feb 8th-9th, 2019
NYSPHSAA tourney at HarborCenter
Feb 24th, 2019
Federation title game at HarborCenter
Who to follow on Twitter for news, scores, pics and video?
@WNYGirlsHockey – Bill Pavone
@NYHockeyonline – Janet and Randy Schultz
@WNYAthletics – Francis Boeck, Frank Wolf and Matt Todaro
@DaveARicci – Dave Ricci
#PrepTalkLive is the hashtag the Buffalo News uses for high school sports
This season WNY Athletics will be providing live audio broadcasts for select games throughout the week. Be sure to follow for game listings.
*** Frank Wolf contributed to this preview ***