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Playoff Race Heating Up in Girls Fed Hockey

We’re headed for the finish line and it’s a five horse race.

As the WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation rolled into the final week of the regular season, we are witnessing the most intriguing race for first place in the 12-year history of the league.

As the week began FLOP, KenGI, Williamsville, Monsignor Martin and NiCo were all locked in a five-way struggle for the top spot, with six points separating first place FLOP from fifth place NiCo.

What amps up the race even more is these five teams will all being seeing each other multiple times during the final week. So the stands could see drastic changes every single day.

FLOP’s 3-1 over Williamsville, which ran its winning streak to 10, was one of the most physical games in recent memory.

After scoring just four goals in their first three games coach Bob Klimowicz made three key changes shifting and FLOP has been golden ever since.

Sophomore Emily Patton was moved from first line winger to second line center and has flourished in her natural position.

The play of eighth grade defenseman Jocelyn Smaczniak was so solid Klimowicz felt confident enough to give her a larger role.

Which enabled him to bump Mya Dalton from defense to forward where she has joined senior Katie Dougherty and Maya Griffin as FLOP’s most explosive line.

“I look at Maya Griffin, love her to death. She’s a bulldog,” said Klimowicz.

“If she goes into the corner with two girls she’s coming out with the puck. That’s just how relentless she is. She creates a lot of the scoring opportunities that line.”

First place comes with more than just bragging rights. Whichever team finishes in first place will be declared the WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation champion.

The highest ranked public school squad will also get that all important first round bye in the post season.

Meanwhile Niagara County is trying to recapture the magic they had at the start of the season. Though the Lady Warriors are still very much in the race for first, the girls just aren’t clicking as a unit like they did early in the season.

“We need to be more of a team,” senior Natalie Ponzi candidly stated.

“We need to not yell at each other. We need to listen to the captains on our team. We need to grow closer together like we were in the first week or two of the season.”

Ponzi didn’t throw anyone under the bus. She was respectful and supportive of her teammates while still being honest about how they need to recapture that team first unity if they hope to have any shot at the sectional title.

“I’m not sure what all of our problems are but I think we’re playing very individually,” said Ponzi. “We need to focus on being a team and sticking up for your teammates. I know that I put my heart on the line for every single one of them every game, but I don’t think some girls are doing that for the others. And we all need to be on the same page.”

Without question the most dramatic turnaround in the standings in KenGI who went from last place to the thick of the race this year.

The program has not finished above fifth place since the 2014-15 season when they were still a Ken-Ton district.

That year Kenmore finished in second place, won the fourth of what would be five consecutive sectional titles and the first of back-to-back appearances in the state championship game.

The red hot line of Madison Flory, Bella Jayme and Izzy Bourgeault coupled with the leadership of Carissa Buyea and Molly Leggett have this team clicking as good as any of those five sectional winning teams ever did.

While eyes are on the race for first the lower half of the standings is also very intriguing.

LID and HEWS came into the final week tied with 9.5 points. CASH, meanwhile has locked up the fifth spot in the seven team play off tree.

The teams in the top five are not only battling for first they are fighting to stay out of that fourth spot to avoid playing CASH-a team many believe is very capable of catching fire in the playoffs and pulling off a few upsets.

The league is known for always having a couple of playoff upsets. So while no one is dismissing any opponent based on regular season record there is still a greater level of confidence that comes with finishing in the top half.

Senior Day Pics Compliments of Janet Schultz….

Three Stars


Vanessa Willick-Williamsville

Another four assist week for the Willy stud who is also climbing on the career points board.


Maya Griffin-FLOP

Three goals and a helper in two games as FLOP rolls to its 10th straight win.


Aizah-Roze Thompson-Williamsville

Thompson’s hat trick helped Willy take down a scrappy HEWS team, 8-3.

Stick tap: 

Leia Schneid-HEWS

Made 17 saves against CASH to earn his first career shutout.

This was without question the toughest week when it came to picking three stars. Other girls who deserve a nod for outstanding play:

FLOP’s Taylor Joyce (three goals, GWG) and Taylor Loretto (three assists). MonMar’s Camryn Brownschidle (two goals, two assists). Willy’s Alex Hennessy (two goals) and Allison Besancon (two goals, assist).

CASH’s Jenny Wild (two goals) and Bella Zivis (goal, assist).

This week, the crew will be livestreaming the Thursday afternoon game between CASH and Williamsville. Puck drop is 4:30pm, Stu Boyar and Randy Schultz on the call with Francis Boeck (producing) and Russ Battaglia (camera).


All Pics Courtesy of Janet Schultz/NY Hockey Online

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