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Intrigue Aplenty Throughout Division IV

Lew-Port Lancers

Losing in a shootout after enduring four overtimes is the epitome of heartbreak for any hockey team, especially if it happens during the playoffs.

So what happens afterwards is the key question for the Lew-Port Lancers, who hope to take lessons learned from the prior year and apply them to the 2016-17 season.

“Our season ended last year on a rough note, and we don’t want sectionals to come down to that again,” Lancers coach Kevin Kirsch said. “The start of a new season helps because you can get refocused and you realize how close we came last year and knowing the amount of work we put in. Hopefully that will be some good motivation for this year so we don’t end up in the same situation.”

Not being the most physically imposing team, the Lancers will look to rebound this season by utilizing their biggest asset – speed.

“I think we’ve got a pretty competitive team and our speed is definitely a big asset,” captain Brayden Regis said. “We do have to get off to better starts in games and not have to catch up, but I like the team we have.”

Senior defenseman James Nossavage agreed.

“We really have to roll all four lines and make sure our passes are tape-to-tape,” Nossavage said. “We’re not the most physical team but we do have a lot of speed, and speed kills.”

All in all, the Lancers are geared up for another playoff run and Kirsch is anxious to see what the Lancers have in them.

“I think we’ve got a good group here with quite a bit of talent,” Kirsch said. “This is probably one of the most complete teams we’ve had in a while. I’m looking forward to seeing what our senior leadership can do for us and seeing if we can pick up where we left off.”

Kenmore West Blue Devils

The Kenmore West Blue Devils had a very good season in 2015-16 – but it didn’t end in the fashion they were hoping for.

A loss to longtime rival (and eventual state champion) Kenmore East in the sectional quarterfinal was a heartbreaking way for the Blue Devils to go out. But with the team bringing back much of last year’s roster – five of the team’s six defenseman, including captain Adam Pray, return as do many forwards – and 60% of the Blue Devils’ roster being made up of seniors, revenge and urgency are on Ken West’s minds.

“I think this year we can really build upon the success we had last year,” Blue Devils coach Robert Roszak said. “We won a sectional game, but I think we can take it to the next level, meaning that we can reach playing at the KeyBank Center. That and winning our division are our two ultimate goals, and we feel as if we can accomplish both feats this year.”

A full preview of the Ken West Blue Devils can be found here: Ken West Boys Hockey Preview

Lockport Lions

A three-win season wasn’t the type of results the Lions were looking for in 2015-16, but there’s reason for optimism this year.

A team that only had three seniors a year ago will bring back much of its roster in this campaign, and a return to health will be a welcome scenario for the Lions. Led by forwards Ryan Boci and Dylan Skalman and defensemen Brennan Bailey and Drew Gmerek, the Lions believe they will get back to the postseason and that belief has been reinforced during training camp.

“I feel pretty strongly about this group of kids this year,” Lions coach Rick Eberhart said. “We’re a pretty tight-knit group and we’ve had a lot of tough practices so far, most of them at 5:30 in the morning. They’ve really toughened it out so far and they’ve looked good. I think once we get back to more of a normal practice routine, we should be even better.”

A full preview of the Lockport Lions can be found here: Lockport Lions Boys Hockey Preview

Defending division champion North Tonawanda, Sweet Home and Amherst round out the rest of the group.

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