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Quakers topple McQuaid, earn trip to State Title Game

Photos by Andrew Miller

Whoever coined the phrase “Patience is a virtue” must have been thinking about the Orchard Park Quakers Boys Hockey team. Or maybe not.

In any event, the Quakers (18-3-0-3) are headed to the NYSPHSAA D-I championship game after defeating Section V’s McQuaid Jesuit 3-2 in overtime of the state semifinal at LECOM Harborcenter on Saturday. In doing so, Orchard Park used the value of waiting to emerge triumphant.

The biggest reason for needing to be patient was the dreaded neutral zone trap. According to Quakers coach Josh Dannecker, the Knights unexpectedly debuted the defensive strategy after the opening puck drop – which required his squad to take what was given to them.

“Dealing with the trap is hard during a playoff game because you’re so geared up and ready to go, so you play right into the hands of it,” Dannecker said. “You’ve got to relax a little bit and can’t throw pucks away, so I thought as the game went on we settled down a little bit and it was just a matter of time before something was going to go in.”

The second reason was the shots on goal category. The Quakers won it by a tally of 41-24, and while one would think that more goals would result from having 41 shots, players such as Brady Ciano – who recorded a hat trick – knew that if they kept persevering, good things would happen.

“We were pretty calm throughout the game,” Ciano said. “We knew that if we just kept shooting, they would go in eventually and they did.”

Early in the opening period the Knights struck first on a wrist shot near the left faceoff circle from Liam Palmer. Similar to Palmer’s goal, Ciano tied the score at one less than a minute into the second stanza of play as he cashed in on a rebound off Knights goaltender Anthony Gonzalez.

Midway through the second, Danny Wehle took a beautiful pass from Jack Callery and stuffed it home to give the Knights a 2-1 lead. That score held up until late in the third period when, with 1:21 to go and goalie Brayden Hearn pulled for an extra attacker, Ciano collected his second tally of the game by tipping a shot from the point by Nolan Zakrzewski to tie the contest and send it to overtime.

Halfway through the overtime, fortune would smile upon the Quakers as Callery was whistled for a hooking penalty – giving Orchard Park a crucial power play. Ciano then took advantage of the extra man by collecting his third goal of the day on a rebound in front of Gonzalez, clinching the game and a berth in the state championship.

“I was just waiting by the net for one of our guys to shoot the puck,” Ciano said. “I got right in front of the goalie and buried the rebound.”

“Brady came up huge for us today,” Dannecker said. “The nice thing with him is he’s a big, strong kid who goes hard to the net and has a good net front presence. 

“You could see that on display today, and in games like this it’s not always going to be a pretty goal that’s going to win it – it’s usually going to be a hard-working goal, and that kid worked so hard today to win the game for us.”

The Quakers, who will face Suffern of Section I on Sunday, will be attempting to win the first state crown in school annals and Dannecker is looking forward to the challenge.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for McQuaid Jesuit – they did what they needed to do early on we just kept battling back,” Dannecker said. “Tomorrow’s going to be another great game – hopefully it’s going to be high-energy and up-tempo out there and we’ll try to do our best to win.”

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