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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Resilient Monsignor Martin now controls its own destiny

The Monsignor Martin girls’ hockey team is proving that girls are tougher than boys…or even grown men.

Last year star NBA players took nights off during the season because there were too many back-to-back games.

The team comprised of girls from most of WNY’s private high schools are putting those professional athletes to shame.

Last week Monsignor Martin played games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then after the weekend, they went back to work with a game on Monday and played their final game on Tuesday.

But the entire month of January has been a gauntlet for Monsignor Martin as they have played 11 of their 18 regular-season games. Included in that are back-to-back-to-back games in each of the preceding two weeks before this last stretch.

Take that LeBron!

“I’m amazed at their determination and will to compete,” Monsignor Martin head coach Chris Malicki said. “It seems like it got to us more than others. I think because we have a deep team and can roll all of our lines it has helped us get through this grind.”

Not only has the team been playing all these games, they’re winning most of them too. Monsignor Martin has gone 7-2-2 this past month.

Monsignor Martin again showed their resiliency with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Williamsville on Monday night.

The win combined with Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park’s loss earlier in the day means that Monsignor Martin controls its own destiny for the top seed in the Federation playoffs heading into their final regular season game Tuesday, a 4:00 p.m. faceoff at the Northtown Center against Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home.

“All of our hard work has paid off,” Monsignor Martin captain Kayla Blas said. “It’s all in our control. If we win we clinch it.”

Both teams had strong chances to score throughout the period but the horn didn’t go off until late in the period when Williamsville’s Holly Schmelzer deked out the Monsignor Martin goalie and backhanded it in on the breakaway with just over a minute left.

Monsignor Martin came out firing in the second period and it paid off. On a 2-on-1 breakaway, Sophie Robinson connected with Alexa Groh, who shot it 5-hole to tie the game.

Jenna Piotrowski made the play of the night with seven minutes left in the period. The Will-ville goalie was down on the right side of the net and reached up to make a glove save in the top-left corner.

However, the big save appeared to only delay the inevitable as a few minutes later, Blas slipped the puck in short side to give Monsignor Martin the lead heading into the break.

In the third period, neither team looked fatigated as they went back and forth with scoring chances.

Williamsville got their best chance to tie things with 10 minutes left as Schmelzer had a 2-on-1 breakaway with Jenna Woods, but Woods couldn’t put home the chance.

The crowded schedule hasn’t been limited to Monsignor Martin, the effects of a couple snow days and fitting an 18-game schedule into a little more than two months is something felt by all teams.

Kenmore/Grand Island played four games in a row last week and Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew has played a couple of three-straight games stretches this month too.

On top of all that, most of the girls also play travel hockey, meaning there is little time for rest.

“The girls on all the teams have impressed me with their great level of energy,” said Rick Hopkins, Williamsville head coach and league chairman. “They are the players they are because of the commitment they’ve made to travel hockey. That’s three or four times a week with games and practices. They never seem to tire.”

Yet, professional athletes still complain about a few back-to-back games.

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