Weekly Feature



2017-01-26 / Sports

Girls hockey team ready for postseason play

Sports Reporter
TAYLOR NIGRELLI


Victoria Mariano keeps the puck in the zone on a scoring play with a chip along the boards in Orchard Park/Frontier/Lake Shore’s win over West Seneca/Eden/Hamburg Friday night. The team will enter both the Section VI and Federation playoffs as the two seed. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Victoria Mariano keeps the puck in the zone on a scoring play with a chip along the boards in Orchard Park/Frontier/Lake Shore’s win over West Seneca/Eden/Hamburg Friday night. The team will enter both the Section VI and Federation playoffs as the two seed. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The Orchard Park/Frontier/ Lake Shore girls hockey team is steamrolling to a strong finish to one of the best regular seasons in the program’s brief history.

The team has won three of its last four games, with one matchup against first-place Williamsville left before the postseason begins.

That stretch started with a 3-0 win over Kenmore/

Grand Island. Meghan Roche and Emily Kromer both scored while Maggie Spyche dominated in net.

“It was just a real good team effort,” Orchard Park/Frontier/Lake Shore assistant coach Lucian Forcucci said. “Maggie Spyche was solid in net for us. Offensively, Meghan Roche and Emily Kromer scored goals for us. We played creatively and with a lot of energy and puck movement. It was a really solid team win.”

The team then defeated Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew by a score of 6-0. Roche and Riley Johnson each had two goals.

Friday, they squeaked out a 4-3 win over West Seneca/Eden/Hamburg.

Frangelica Bautz had a goal and three assists. The team controlled the puck more often than net, but the opposition’s goaltending kept the game close.

“We controlled play throughout the game,” Forcucci said. “Their goalie is our goalie from last year, Andrea Harmon. She really stood on her head. They didn’t keep official stats on shots, but she must have made 40 or more saves. It was an interesting game. There were a couple controversial goals. Brooke Becker scored a goal, where almost everyone in the rink thought it hit off the crossbar. But the ref ruled that it hit off the back post and bounced out. Then later they hit the crossbar, but it looked like it had gone in the net.

“I thought we controlled play overall, but they got some solid goaltending and got some timely goals. Before you know it, you’re only up one near the end. It got really exciting, but a win is a win. The girls held them off to secure the win.”

The team’s win streak was halted, however, with a 5-0 loss to Monsignor Martin. The game was in stark contrast to the two 5-1 wins Orchard Park/Frontier/Lake Shore earned over Monsignor Martin recently.

“It was our biggest loss of the season. We’ve only had two other losses,” Forcucci said. “They have some very talented players. We beat them 5-1 twice, but they didn’t feel like 5-1 games. We had a slow start in the first and they got a jump on us. It was one of those games. We made some adjustments and tried to motivate the girls, but we just couldn’t put the puck in the net. It was a great effort by them and their goalie was great. She made some big saves.”

The team fell behind early and had trouble creating offense late in the game. The teams played in an outdoor rink at Riverworks in Buffalo. The rink was not resurfaced between the second and third period, making moving the puck difficult for the offense.

“We played at Riverworks in the outdoor rink so they don’t resurface between periods. The ice was choppy and tough by the end of the game,” Forcucci said. “It was tough to move the puck. Our strength on offense is cycling and passing the puck a lot, creating back-door feeds. Those are usually the types of goals we score. It was tough to do that because of the surface.”

However, the loss might do the team some good. Playoffs are rapidly approaching, and sometimes it can help a team to be reminded how poorly games can go after slow starts.

“It was a good learning experience,” Forcucci said. “You have to be ready to go in the playoffs; you have to bring you best hockey. You have to have it at the drop of the puck. You can’t wait to turn it on.”

The postseason will begin in just over a week. The sectional playoffs will start things off. The winner of that will move on to the state playoffs. Then, the Federation playoffs will begin. Orchard Park/Frontier/Lake Shore will be the two seed in both brackets.

The team looks to be one of the stronger team squads in the area. The girls have proven they can beat any team in the league, except Williamsville, at whom they will get another shot Thursday in the regular-season finale. Meanwhile, the offense should be capable of carrying the load, sporting five of the top nine scorers in the league. Roche (27 points), Mary Kromer (24), Bautz (23), Becker (23) and Jessica Peters (20) have led the offensive attack.

However, the playoffs are often determined by a team’s ability to get the little things right.

“We can definitely put the puck in the net,” Forcucci said. “The key in the playoffs will be little things like the power play, penalty kill, faceoffs and line matchups. Those can be the difference in tight games.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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