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by Tony Fiorello

The Frontier Falcons went into their Sunday afternoon showdown against another Falcons team – that of Niagara-Wheatfield – and emerged victorious, downing Wheatfield by a score of 5-4.

Frontier (3-9) orchestrated the upset of Wheatfield (8-4) because of the team’s effort and a “next man up” mentality, according to coach Brian Dehlinger.

“This win today was a direct result of hard work,” Dehlinger said. “We were also missing a few guys in our lineup and a few guys had to step up and fill their shoes, which they did admirably. “We needed a win in the worst way, and we certainly got the job done.”

Frontier jumped out to an early 3-1 lead after the first period with a pair of goals from Jared Compise and another from Justin D’Andrea. The quick buildup was hugely important to the team’s psyche.

“Getting that confidence was a big factor for our team, for sure,” Dehlinger said. “We haven’t had quite the season that we’ve wanted, so we’ve always been waiting for that shoe to drop for the other team to take momentum from us. “Sometimes we struggle to get momentum back, so we end up feeling sorry for ourselves. Today, however, we did a better job of getting pucks on net and getting rebounds, and that’s what our staff has been stressing all year long. We’re finally starting to pick it up a little bit, so hopefully it’s a stepping stone in the right direction.”

Junior Kyle Mack concurred.

“Wheatfield’s a good team, so we knew we had to come out and play hard right off the bat and score early,” Mack said. “It’s a good thing we did get those goals early, otherwise it could have been a different story.”

After scoring a goal apiece in the second period, Compise lit the lamp for the hatty giving Frontier a 5-2 lead. Two consecutive goals by Niagara-Wheatfield had Frontier holding on for dear life, but a defensive stand helped Compise’s third goal become the game-winner.

Another factor that helped Frontier notch their third victory of the season was the changing of an important aspect of their game – the forecheck.

“We installed a new forecheck about three games ago, so guys are still trying to get used to it and figure it out,” Dehlinger said. “We’re trying to be a bit more aggressive down low with a couple of guys and it’s just a matter of them doing it. They’re not used to it yet, so there’s going to be some growing pains but today was probably their best effort in executing it.”

The team’s new goal is to keep the momentum from the win going, and to not allow themselves to fall into bad habits from games past, according to Dehlinger.

“It’s a good step, it’s just a matter of if we can build on it or not,” Dehlinger said. “Sometimes we think we have it and then another team comes in and punches us in the nose. We’ll see if we can continue this moving forward.”

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