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  • Writer's pictureFrank Wolf

Bulldogs Capture 1st Fed Championship Since 2016

Photos by Andrew Miller

Buffalo, NY – It’s been a while, but the Kenmore East Bulldogs will be raising another championship banner in their gymnasium after posting a 5-1 win over West Seneca West Friday night.

Sophomore forward Ben Martin scored twice and Austin Turnbull, a senior recorded a goal and two assists to lead the Bulldogs to the small school championship, their first since 2016.

Head Coach Kyle Pray is now a 5-time Sectional winning coach, his fourth with Kenmore East (he won before with Kenmore West). This latest monumental victory however may have a little more meaning, as he did it with his son Trevor who serves as an assistant coach.

Back in 2016, it was Trevor Pray that scored an overtime winner at Harbor Center to give Ken East the State Title.

“Super proud of these guys,” the elder Pray said afterwards. “On the offensive front our guys really came through.” The Bulldogs never trailed in this game and their defense suffocated the Warhawks offense for most of the game, limiting WSW to just 10 shots.

“We had some secondary scoring tonight and really, had all three lines working well together and that makes us hard to stop,” Pray said.

Turnbull’s goal came at the end of the 1st period on the powerplay.

West Seneca West's Nathan Rainero put one by Bulldogs goaltender Erik Freeman early in the 2nd but East would respond. Austn Paluch buried a shot past Kyle Dailey to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead and Kenmore East never looked back, despite handing the Warhawks back-to-back powerplay’s later in the period.

The Bulldogs scored three in the 3rd period to put the game out of reach, Jacob Simpson scored in between Martin’s two goals.

Freeney only faced 10 shots, whereas Dailey made 19 saves, most of them quality.

Kenmore East came into the championship game as the 7th seed, having eliminated the top-2 seeded teams in the playoffs (Williamsville East, Starpoint). They’ll wait on their next opponent out of Section V, Batavia-Notre Dame or Webster-Thomas, who play Monday at 530pm..

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