Breaking down the WNY Fed Hockey Playoffs – Small School Brackets
Private, Large, and Small school post season match-ups are set and will begin play tonight.
Our @wolf3328 breaks down each bracket and offers up his opinion on which teams have legitimate shots of reaching Key Bank Center (KBC) for Super Sunday and which teams have a lot left to prove.
In no particular order the four teams that have the best chance of making it to Super Sunday are the Grand Island Vikings (GI), Kenmore West Blue Devils (KW), Starpoint Spartans, and the West Seneca West Indians (WSW).
GI will be the odds-on favorite to make it to KBC. Based on their body of work during the regular season this appears to be the most balanced team in the Small School Division. They have impressive wins over WSW, KW, and Starpoint and just one loss to Bishop-Timon, a team they no longer need to worry about. The key to GI’s success will be goaltending and they have a solid tandem in Nathan Stroh and Robbie Currie. No matter which way head coach Don Pray leans this is another strength to an already imposing squad.
Odds-on favorites will not guarantee anything, however. We have seen dominant Vikings teams in recent years fall short. Expectations are high once again, as they should be, given the amount of talent on this team. The top line of Dylan Russo, Josh Conta, and Tyler Hunt has been on fire since that first league win back on Nov. 26th. Can they keep the momentum going for another couple of weeks and erase the playoff demons that have been haunting them as of late? They’ll have a first round bye to think about it.
Kenmore West sports one of the more dominant lines in Fed hockey in recent years. Michael Barker, Ethan Yotter, and Cam Crosier (all seniors) each finished in the top nine in league scoring. Jacob Vacanti, a sophomore, was tenth. Chris Cairns was steady in net. The Blue Devils can play with anybody in this division and have proved that all season. One area that KW will have to concentrate on is staying out of the box. You can’t go far playing short-handed. Should the Blue Devils continue playing the way they have with timely scoring, dependable goaltending and can avoid falling into penalty trouble, the sky is the limit.
West Seneca West is still playing with the sting of last season’s NYSPHSAA State Finals loss to Sweet Home in the back of their minds. That’s something they have been using to their advantage. The Indians have the right amount of experience up front and in goal to make a deep run. They also have players like Ethan Parsons and Billy Coughlin that seem to elevate their games in the post season. Chase Chodkowski, Kyle Haettich and Mike Velasquez are unstoppable once they get going and are tough for any opposing team to match up with. This is a determined group with some unfinished business.
Starpoint enters the post season riding a three-game winning streak. They’ve scored 22 goals in that span. Joe LoBrutto (’21) has been off the charts and leads the Spartans in scoring (14-18-32). The sophomore phenom has had plenty of help along the way. Teammates Chuck Schmidl, Max Ciepela and Tommy Mazgaj provide enough depth for Starpoint to be considered a solid contender to reach Super Sunday.
Don’t Sleep On…
Kenmore East – The Bulldogs may be young but they are a tenacious bunch and have one of the best coaches in WNY in Kyle Pray, who happens to know a thing or two about winning State titles. They drew Starpoint in their opening round. Not ideal but we’ve seen upsets before.
Williamsville East – The Flames haven’t been as consistent as in seasons past. The Steffan brothers are a distant memory but this team still has some firepower left in the tank. They take on first year Fed team Iroquois/Alden, a first round win could do wonders for their confidence.
West Seneca East – Head coach Phil Prynn adopted a new philosophy this season and has shuffled up his lines to accommodate his new game plan. Even though they’ve lost five of their last six games, this team has enough veteran leadership to recognize what time of year it is and there are a couple of players still on the roster that know what it takes to make it to Super Sunday. The Trojans could be a dark horse.
Hamburg – Coach McFall’s team is 4-1-1 in their last six games. They’ve lost some close games this season to WSW, GI, and Starpoint. Goaltending is the key here and Jake Hutchison is good enough to steal a game. They say defense wins championships – that’s always been a Bulldogs staple.
Best of the Rest
Williamsville South, Lew-Port, North Tonawanda, Iroquois/Alden, and Sweet Home will not go down without a fight. I wouldn’t count any of them out, especially Sweet Home with Michael Lisman between the pipes.
Starpoint vs West Seneca West
West Seneca West Section VI Champs
Small School Schedule
Pre-Quarter Finals: Thursday Feb 14th, 2019
6:15pm WSW (3) vs Amherst (14)
8:30pm WSE (6) vs Sweet Home (11)
6:30pm Starpoint (4) vs Kenmore East (13)
8:45pm Williamsville East (7) vs Alden/Iroquois (10)
PQF: Friday Feb 15th, 2019
6pm Hamburg (5) vs North Tonawanda (12)
8:15pm Williamsville South (8) vs Lew-Port (9)
Quarterfinals: Sunday Feb 17th, 2019 at HarborCenter
Check the WNYAthletics.com Scoreboard for Live Scoring and results.
Large and Private School prognostications to be released Friday morning…stay tuned!