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WNYGVIH Preview 2021-22

Puck drop is here, on time. The Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation officially kicks off it’s 12th season on Monday with a slate of three games. After the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a condensed season, 2021-22 is back on track with a full schedule that also includes the scheduled return of the NYSPHSAA tourney that will take place Feb.11-12.

Year 12 will also see some changes to the league. St.Mary’s of Lancaster has joined the league giving the girls Fed a total of nine teams. After the abbreviated seven game regular season last year teams will have a full 16 game slate. The Federation tournament has been eliminated. Leaving Monsignor Martin and St. Mary’s to play for the Private School championship. The seven public schools will compete in the Section VI tournament that will be played at Northtowns, Feb. 1 and 3. Cornerstone Arena in Lockport will host a championship double header Feb.7.

Monsignor Martin (Last year 6-1, 18 points. Federation champion)

MonMar finished first overall last season which earned them the federation championship. While the playoff landscape has changed MonMar’s goal remains the same. Aim for the top. Monsignor Martin has lost the services of Player of the Year Lara Beecher who is now playing Juniors in Philadelphia. But they still return a team loaded with talent that is lead by All-Fed first teamer Camryn Brownschidle (F/D) and third teamer Mia Boyd (F). Goalie Sophia Will also returns. “It’s fantastic to know someone is going to be there to not only make the normal save but in many cases she’s making the big save that can be the difference,” said coach Mark Brownschdile. Will has signed with D3 Middlebury College in Vermont while Brownschidle will play for D1 RIT. Isabelle Fedele also returns after missing last season due to illness.

Williamsville (6-1, 18 points. Section VI champion)

After being on the cusp of greatness Williamsville has arrived in a big way. And they don’t appear ready to step aside any time soon. One of the most consistent programs since day one Williamsville always to fall short. Five red runner-up patches was the frustrating proof. But Willy has officially reached dynasty status as its recent run of success includes three consecutive sectionals titles.

Leading the way will be captains junior Aizah-Rose Thompson (D) who was first team All-Fed, senior Vanessa Willick who was second team All-Fed and the team’s leading scorer. “Vanessa has a real talent for scoring goals and scoring big goals,” said coach Rick Hopkins, who was named Coach of the Year. And defenseman Molly Martin who earned honorable mention nod. Defense will be a strong point of Willy’s line-up as they return its top four blueliners. Thompson will be paired with Shannon Pogorzala. While the M&M Girls, Molly Martin and Diana Martucci, are back for a third season together. Eighth grader goalie Katherine Kelley may look young on paper, but Hopkins has unquestioned faith in her ability to stop pucks. Forward Sophia DePrima also returns and gives Williamsville some offensive pop. Victoria Burget returns and should see quality minutes on second and third lines. Eyes will also be on forward Gianna DiFilippo.

Williamsville will have perhaps its largest squad ever, 23 players. But it will also be it’s youngest team ever as nine of those girls are in middle school.

Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home (5-2, 15 points)

CASH will lean on senior forward Allison Greene who was second team All-Fed. Isabella Zivis, Sydney Spear, Zoe Hallowell are also part of CASH’s top four upfront. Senior blueliner Isabella Clary will be a mentor for 8th graders Jenny Wild and Maya Adimey. With just 14 players this is one of the smallest CASH team’s ever, but they have the luxury of depth in net with four goalies.

Niagara County: (4-3, 12 points)

It’s all about goals for the Lady Warriors. Last season the Warriors accomplished two of their main goals. Finish above .500 and in the top half of the league. They did just that. Their other goal-first playoff win-still alludes them. “Our goal every year is to be better than the year before,” said coach Greg Groskopf. “Every year we have our goals and we reached almost all of them except for the playoff win.” Leading the way for NiCo will be senior defenseman Skylar Berube and junior Kayla Persinger. Persinger, who was an All-Fed second team selection, will shift from defense to forward. Natalie Ponzi returns on the top defensive pairing with Berube. While forwards Paige Spatarico (junior) and sophomore Madison Mallone will also be big guns on offense.

Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew (3-4, 9 points)

LID fell to Williamsville in the sectional title game. Forward Morgan Dee and goalie Dylan Gorski, who helped make LID a legit contender, have graduated. Which means the onus of leadership now falls on the shoulders of players like junior forwards Sara O’Donnell and Sydney Radecki, who was sixth in scoring in the Fed last year.

Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park (2-5, 6 points)

FLOP is looking to return to the top. They will have plenty of talent to get back into the top half of the standings. Leading the way will be sophomore goalie Kerrigan McCarthy who was an All-Fed first team selection. She an eight grade defenseman Lilly Kushner were two of the bright spots last season. “She really surprised me. And I love the way she’s gotten better this year,” said coach Bob Klimowicz. “She’s a little stronger, she hasn’t really grown much, little bit of growth. But her shot has gotten stronger her skating has gotten better. I really look for her to contribute some offense.” Senior forwards Taylor Joyce and Katherine Dougherty also return. The backend will see solid players on senior Samantha Torgerson and junior Emery Fitzery. Freshman Maya Griffin has also looked promising during the first week of practice. FLOP’s biggest issue is a replay of last year. They have plenty of skill, but they still need that assertive voice of leadership to take charge in the room and on the ice.

Hamburg/Eden/West Seneca (1-5, 1 OTL, 4 points)

HEWS will look to its veterans to keep them in the championship hunt. Leading the way will be junior forwards Elizabeth and Katherine O’Brien, senior forward Jackie Supples and junior forward Riley Andzel who is one of the most explosive scoring threats in the Fed. Sophomore Hailey Cooper will lead the defense. “The older players are providing leadership this far and our practices have gone at a good pace,” said coach Eric Cooper. “The girls are looking forward to the season.”

Kenmore/Grand Island (0-6, 1 OTW, 2 points)

Having one of the youngest teams in the league last year, coach Jeff Orlowski firmly believes last year’s record was not a true reflection of his team is capable of. This season should once again find KenGI in the title hunt as last year’s test of fire made his squad tougher. Leading the way will be seniors Carissa Buyea (F) and defenseman Molly Leggett who will play at Neumann University. Junior Carolyn Bourgeault, who was All-Fed third team last year, returns in net. The KenGI offense gets a huge shot in the arm with the return of junior forward Maddie Flory. Playing for KenGI as a freshman Flory played in Massachusetts last year. “She looks better than ever,” said Orlowski. “So we’re looking for big things out of her this year.” Together with freshman Izzy Bourgeault and Bella Jayme they will form one of the most dangerous lines in the state. Junior forward Emiliana Cassillo also returns. St. Mary’s of Lancaster

The buzzword is hard work. St. Mary’s will need plenty of hard work as they enter what many feel is the best girls hockey league in the state. Coach Maegan Roberts said from their first team meeting in the summer it was clear this group was ready to work. Ready to win. “We started talking about what we expected from the season. What we wanted to do as a team with it being the first season,” Roberts said. “So I had all the girls write down what they want to bring to the team. Pretty much in every girl’s paper it was hard work. Hard work.” Roberts said before they even hit the ice for their first official practice the girls already to success begins with hard work and commitment. St. Mary’s also has the plus of plenty of youth, most notably sophomore forward Reece Gall, and a trio of fabulous freshman Alannah Pagano, Riley Kumrow (D) and goalie Avery Hall. This core four give the Lancers a foundation to build around. “I’m really excited about that and I can tell that the girls are really excited about that,” Roberts said. “It’s majority of sophmores and freshman that came into the school, especially the freshman, came into this school for the purpose of building this team.”

Opening Day: MonMar vrs. LID @ Holiday, 4:15. Williamsville vrs. NiCo @ Hyde, 4:30 HEWS vrs. SML @ Cheektowaga, 4:00

Around the Boards:

WNYAthletics is preparing to livestream all Thursday afternoon games held at the Northtown Center beginning 12/2 (HEWS vs Williamsville)

Girls Hockey Websites

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