Wednesday night the boys federation hockey small school semi-finals took place at the Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo, NY. Four teams were looking for a trip to the Key Bank Center as part of “Super Monday” where the Section VI championship will be decided.
Will East Loses in Double OT
The Flames were looking for a seventh straight appearance in the title game and it looked like they would roll the Trojans soon after the puck dropped. Williamsville East jumped out to an early -2-0 lead as senior Jack Kelly scored twice in the opening two minutes of the contest.
His linemate’s Mike Steffan and Finnegan Sayers picked up the helpers as Williamsville East took command of the game.
But the Trojans are a resilient bunch with a solid mix of youth and experience. “We told our guys if we give one up, it’s OK” said WSE coach Phil Prynn. “Just go out and get the next one, match ‘em. Because nothing against Will East they are a great team, we know what they are capable of but we knew we could play with them.”
The Trojans settled in and responded. Cam Mentel, a senior defenseman fired a shot that beat Flames goalie Evan Kumpf, it was WSE’s first official shot on goal.
As the period ran down the Trojans picked up a power play opportunity and made the most out of it. Danny Flynn tucked his shot into the right corner of the net tying the game at two goals a side.
In the second and third it was the Jagger Maving show. Only a sophomore, the kid with the great glove brushed aside too many Will East shots to mention. 30 saves through three periods including a breakaway by Kelly and a goalline stuff on Mike Steffan, the leagues scoring champion.
Kumpf had game saving moments throughout and played as well as Maving.
The Flames had the best scoring chance in the first OT but were outshot 4-2 by WSE. In double OT the Flames picked up a power play chance less than a minute in. After killing off the Will East man advantage Tyler Arndt raced down the side boards into the Flames zone and fired a lightning quick slap shot and ended the game.
West Seneca East the No. 7 seed on paper never looked the part on the ice. The Trojans took down the Flames 3-2 in double OT. “The boys are a little exhausted, so the locker room wasn’t as crazy as you’d expect but that’s an excited group” Prynn said.
Kenmore West Returns to Key Bank Center
After a 10-year hiatus and a dramatic 1-0 victory over Hamburg on Wednesday the Blue Devils are making preparations for “Super Monday” where they will play for the small school hockey Section VI title.
Sean Degnan a senior who missed almost all of last season with a serious injury scored the lone goal for Kenmore West in the win over the Bulldogs. “Owen (Green) was at the point and I was just hanging in front, I was there and it slipped in five-hole” Degnan said. “This year, working so hard for our goal, we accomplished some of that but we’re not done” he added.
Ken West was the Division 4 champion and a No. 4 seed. They had not played Hamburg nor had a lot of time to scout them. “I talked to coach Kirsch from Lew-Port the other day. I know coach McFall does a great job and they would be a real tough opponent for us.” Ken West coach Rob Rozsak said. “We knew it would be physical” And they were. All three senior defenseman made their presence felt as Owen Gonter, Colin Bartoo and Jason Chiodo seemingly hit anything dressed in black all night.
Ken West took everything they had and kept skating and did not shy away from the physical part of the game. Captains Ben Serrano and Alex Militello along with Timmy Seyfang dished out as much as they took from the heavy hitting Bulldogs. Most important, they kept their composures throughout the game. There were no silly penalties from either side despite the level of corporal punishment being dished out.
Matt Bogacki was the story of the game for Ken-West stopping all 23 Hamburg shots. Hamburg tested the senior goalie early and often as the line of Neil Dake, Jacob Hangen and Jason Delmont showed flashes often but Ken West played well defensively and didn’t waste chances clearing the puck out of the zone.
Degnan’s goal came early in the 3rd period. Green sent a shot through several bodies that was redirected by Degnan and then through the legs of Coppola.
The Blue Devils didn’t exactly go into a defensive shell after the go-ahead goal. Each team exchanged quality chances until the final buzzer.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the assistant coaches Mike Vogel and Corey Lloyd, they were instrumental in us getting to this point” Rozsak said. “This is a special group of kids that came together as a team to meet the goal from the beginning of the season, to get to Key Bank Center.”
Serrano now a senior has been through some tough years but is happy that his team is moving in the right direction. “Everyone is chipping in and doing their part to help get us to KBC” Serrano said. “In past years we couldn’t make it this far, and during this season, I struggled at times but we knew we had a good team.”
Militello had a larger than life smile outside the Blue Devils dressing room after this game as well. “I can’t even describe it this is the greatest thing” Militello said. “It’s going to feel good (playing at KBC) but we have to stay calm and get the nerves out before the game starts because it’s going to be a very tough game.”
Ken West has been rejuvenated this season with a healthy crop of youngsters looking to change the landscape in the Fed. Sophomore’s Mike Barker and Ethan Yotter finished 2nd and 3rd in the scoring race while junior’s Matt Stewart, Glenn Wirth, Green, Seyfang and Keenan Kasperek saw big minutes down the stretch. In the final minutes, Rozsak had the Stewart line taking face-off’s against Hamburg’s best. Anthony Tanyi won two draws in the closing seconds to help secure the win while deep in Ken West territory.
“It was a team game from the start” Bogacki said after the victory. “I saw every shot.”
Section VI Small School Finals – Key Bank Center – “Super Monday” – Feb. 27th 8:30pm
Kenmore West Blue Devils (4) vs. West Seneca East Trojans (7)