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Flames Top Bulldogs, Take Sole Possession of 2nd Place in ECIC II

After beating ECIC II foe West Seneca West on Sunday, the Hamburg Bulldogs returned to action Monday evening at the LECOM HarborCenter for another league bout, taking on the hot and cold Williamsville East Flames. The winner of this game would take sole possession of second place in ECIC II, trailing only Starpoint at the head of the division. In the long run, the speed and star power of Williamsville East was too much for the Bulldogs to handle, as the Flames would win 7-2.

It took time for both teams to feel each other out, as they went back and forth, having equally as dangerous chances halfway through the first period. With just over 9 minutes still to play in the period, Williamsville East was controlling most of the chances, until Nathan Milk had to sacrifice the body to block a shot attempt from Luke Stotz, off a one timer on a 2-on-1 rush for the Bulldogs.

Once they had played a full ten minutes of scoreless hockey, it was as if the dam had cracked open and goals were allowed to pour through on both sides. It was Williamsville East striking first, with 6:52 to go in the period, as the forechecking of Caden Cavalieri led to a clapper from Michael Stephens from the blue line that was tipped on its way by Mike Scioli, who was credited with his second goal on the season.

Less than a minute later, the Flames’ Nick Mendola powered his way through 3 bodies on route to the cage, where he taps his own rebound through the wickets of the goaltender, Matt Andrew. Will East would hold that 2-0 lead for less than two minutes, as the pressure put on by Hamburg’s Ryan Rodgers would set up Josh Gregoire to walk in and tuck the biscuit home behind Luke Fryling, cutting the lead in half.

Hamburg would continue to control the pace of play for the remainder of the period, as Luke Fryling was tested late in the first, shutting the door. Shots after 17:00 were 7-4 in favor of the Flames.

Mike Torrillo’s Flames came out strong in the second, frustrating the Bulldogs to the point where Hamburg’s Luke Stotz took a minor penalty for roughing, two and a half minutes into play. On the ensuing power play, Cavalieri put in the work in the corners, coming away with possession, setting up Peter Nostrant, who was parked in front of the net, for the 3-1 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t lay down. Less than a minute later, Hamburg’s Frank Pandolfino’s hefty wrister from the slot went wide right of the net, but johnny on the spot was Ryan Steiner, who fired it behind Fryling, bringing the score within one goal.

With a 3-2 lead, the Flames were relentless in the offensive zone. Nostrant had two shots from the slot that were saved and just a hair wide respectively, both coming within 30 seconds of one another. With 9:01 left in the middle frame, Nostrant practically gave Cavalieri the puck on a silver platter, as Caden blasted home a one-timer from the faceoff dot.

Hamburg would give every ounce of effort they had, having played the night before. Back to back breakaways for the Bulldogs went for naught, with Fryling squeezing the pads for a save on the first attempt from Matt Holst. Then, it was Charlie Snyder who found himself behind the defense, however, the senior held his head in disbelief after ringing his shot off the crossbar. Hamburg would get an opportunity on the power play with 4:20 to go in the period, but the defense of Will East killed it off with ease.

After two period, the Flames were leading 4-2, with a slim, 15-11 lead in shots on goal.

There’s no telling what happens in the Will East locker room during an intermission, but it had the boys buzzing at the puck drop, scoring the game’s seventh goal just :20 into the third period, killing any momentum the Bulldogs had built up during the break. It was Caden Cavalieri scoring his second goal on the day and 14th on the season, assisted by Julian Hamilton and Peter Nostrant.

A penalty to the Flames’ Stephens set Hamburg up on a power play just under a minute into play in the final period. The Bulldogs would have numerous opportunities from prime areas to score, but it was the cross bar that rung out again, as Ryan Steiner hit the bar on the best chance of the period so far for Hamburg. After the penalty was killed, Hamburg was leading in shots on goal 17-16, but it was the Flames, yet again, taking advantage of their chances, as Michael Stephens makes up for his penalty by scoring a beauty with an individual effort Cale Makar would be proud of, picking the top, glove-side corner, extending the lead to 6-2 with 13:57 still yet to play.

Will East would net one more goal, thanks to Nick Mendola’s second of the night, on their way to a 7-2 victory over Hamburg, improving to 10-5-2-1 on the season. Hamburg falls to third place in the division, sitting at a 9-8-1-1 overall record.

The Bulldogs will close out the regular season on Wednesday at the Northtown Center for a mathcup with the Billies of Williamsville South. Puck drop is set for 8:30.

The Flames will return to action on Thursday to take on the Tigers of Amherst at 8:15pm from the Feature Rink at the Northtown Center. You can catch that game streaming live on WNYAthletics Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.

Photo Credit – Jack Kruezer/

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