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The Tony Schiappa Era is Underway @ Williamsville East

The new-look Flames opened the season under their new coach in style, scoring early and often in a 9-1 win over Amherst in an ECIC II match on Tuesday.

“We came out, we had a lot of energy out there,” said senior Ethan Ruggiero, who scored four goals to lead the way. “The boys were really moving up the field. It’s good to get that result, first night especially.”

The first game under a new head coach was a successful one for the storied program. Using an uptempo pace, the Flames were simply too powerful for an improved Tigers team.

“Our word this year is havoc,” Schiappa said. “That’s our style of play. We’re going to wreak havoc on the opposition with an up tempo pace. Our kids showed that. We pressed them for 80 minutes and ultimately they turned the ball over a few times and we were ready to capitalize.”

Schiappa returns to his alma mater, where he replaces the retired Jeff Librock. The 2007 Williamsville East graduate was later a standout at Buffalo State College.  He coached at Hamburg the last six seasons, leading the Bulldogs to a share of the division title with East last year.

“It’s an honor  to lead this program,” Schiappa said. “I live right up the road so it saves me over an hour a day of travel. It’s a great community.. great kids, great parents … we have our hands full but we’re sticking together.”

The Flames had to replace all but one starter from last year’s Section VI Class A championship team. Among the 10 departed starters were standouts Trey Buscaglia and Ben Woolingham.

“We lost one of the best classes in the history of the program,” Schiappa said. “We don’t have that same group but these guys have big heart, big passion, big energy for the game. We’re going to make up for the loss of such exceptional talent by working harder than the opposition, That’s non-negotiable around here. We’re going to bring high energy. We’re going to out-work teams and like I said, wreck a lot of havoc on teams.”

It worked in the opener. The Tigers, who Schiappa said “are much better this season than in past years” were competitive in the first half but Williamsville East put the game away with six second-half goals.

“It was a really good start,” said senior defenseman Cam Townsend, the team’s lone returning starter. “Amherst is a good team, I didn’t think it would turn out like that. It was a little rough early on but then we started finishing and put nine goals in today.”

Jeremiah Crofford added two goals and three assists; Troy Jezioro had a goal and two assists. Luca Buscaglia and Luke Weber also scored for the Flames.

“We have very high expectations. We know if we play at the level we’re capable of playing at, that we can play with anyone in WNY.”

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