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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

OP Falls in Regional Finals at Brockport, Undefeated Season Comes to an End

Brockport, NY – The Orchard Park Quakers were looking to make it 21 wins in a row on Saturday afternoon as they took the ice against Section V’s Victor Blue Devils at the NYSPHSAA D-I Regionals. For two and a half periods of hockey it certainly looked like they would accomplish the feet.

But the Hockey God’s can be a squirrely bunch and on this day favored the home team at SUNY Brockport as Victor pulled out a 3-1 win over the previously unbeaten Section VI representatives.

The game leaned in Orchard Park’s direction through most of the first two periods with OP winning most of the battles and creating turnovers. The Quakers took away most scoring lanes from a young but dangerous Victor bunch until penalties caught up with OP.

The Quakers broke a scoreless tie in the 2nd period at 9:46. Michael Roberton’s team leading 21st goal on the power-play put OP out front. Robertson was set up perfectly in front of Victor goaltender Max Pitts and he redirected a pass from Presley Schiltz into the Blue Devils goal.

OP would take a 1-0 lead into the 2nd intermission. Pitts had to make a number of critical saves just before the buzzer sounded to end the period.

Pitts continued his stellar play early in the 3rd and Victor continued to push the envelope with long stretch passes putting OP on the defensive. The Blue Devils are a team that knows how to respond to adversity. Just last week they went through 4 overtimes and a 9-round shootout to advance into Regional play. OP’s undefeated record was not something anyone on Victor was concerned about. These teams met earlier in January so there was plenty of familiarity between the clubs and it showed during a number of post-whistle scrums. It was a clean game, but there was a lot of talking going on. That carried into the final period.

A couple of minor penalties against the Quakers would lead to their ultimate demise. Despite having one of the better penalty killing units, it only takes one shot to change the landscape of a game. That’s when senior forward Colin McNamara delivered for Victor.

McNamara let a wrist shot go from the right circle. The puck went top-shelf and reignited the Blue Devils bench. It was a power-play goal for Victor that allowed them to tie the game 1-1. Michael Pohrte the starting goaltender for OP seemed to be in perfect position to make the save but somehow the puck found an opening.

“We knew our chances would be limited,” McNamara said. “Last week we fell down, similar situation being down a goal but the guys didn’t get down or weren’t nervous, we just kept playing. We knew if we could get one back then we would have a chance”

The Blue Devils power play struck again with 4:33 remaining. Simon Kowal’s shot from the point found the net after hitting a body in front of the OP goal. Pohrte was once again in perfect position, just an unfortunate bounce that went the other way to give Victor a 2-1 lead. Pohrte finished with 18 saves, most were high quality saves, he was very good throughout.

“These guys have worked so hard to get back into this game, they earned it,” Blue Devils coach Mike Ferreri said. “There was no discouragement on our bench after being down a goal either. These kids believed and they care about each other. I’ve been around a while and had a lot of talented teams but the teams that have that close-knit culture and believe in one another do great things.”

Playing from behind is not something OP was used to, having not been down a goal since January. The Blue Devils stepped up their defensive efforts and Pitts once again shined in the closing minutes.

Victor’s McNamara scored on an empty net to seal the victory for the Blue Devils, ending the Quakers quest for a perfect season.

“It was a game where we just couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” OP head coach Josh Dannecker said post-game. We tried really hard, the boys gave it there all and that’s really all we could ask. We just didn’t get any bounces to go our way. It’s disappointing for sure, but I think we have a lot to be proud of. We played a great season.”

Victor will now play Saturday against Section III’s West Genesee in the NYSPHSAA State Semifinals. Puck drop is set for 11:30am, the game will be livestreamed on the NFHS Network.

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