Weekly Feature



2017-03-02 / Sports

FLOP wins Federation Championship

Sports Reporter
TAYLOR NIGRELLI


Orchard Park sophomore Abigail Lillis speeds past a pair of Williamsville defenders during the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation Championship Sunday. The Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park team came away with a 4-2 win. 
Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Orchard Park sophomore Abigail Lillis speeds past a pair of Williamsville defenders during the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation Championship Sunday. The Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park team came away with a 4-2 win. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park girls’ hockey team capped off perhaps the best season in the program’s young history with a 7-2 win over Williamsville Sunday night in the Federation Championship. The team previously won the Section VI title and finished as the state runner-up.

“It feels amazing,” goaltender Maggie Spyche said. “Just having this opportunity and knowing I’ll have it for the rest of my life is amazing. It’s going to be there forever.”

Despite the stellar regular season and playoff run, the game was far from a given for FLOP. Williamsville had won two and tied one of the regular season contests and had lost just once in 20 total games. However, FLOP led in all three of those games, giving the team some confidence going into the game.

“The last time we played them we tied them, and I remember being in net and I remember that feeling,” Spyche said. “I was like ‘I’m ready to pound them.’ I was just so ready. It was an amazing feeling.”

FLOP jumped on Williamsville right away, leading the first-period shot count 8-3. However, the team couldn’t break through and left the period in a scoreless tie.

It wouldn’t take much of the second period to break through, however. Brooke Becker put a wobbling puck over the right shoulder of the Williamsville goalie just 16 seconds into the frame to give her team a 1-0 lead. Jessica Peters and Frangelica Bautz got assists on the goal.

“Most of the year we’ve been the team that has gotten the lead first.” FLOP coach Bob Klimowicz said. “Outside of the state final, we didn’t have too much of a chance to play from behind. Our goal was to jump on them early. Their goaltender came up with some huge saves in that first period. As a coach you start wondering ‘Uh oh, are we going to be snake-bitten?’ They hit the crossbar and the game could have changed right there on that one play. But they kept on plugging.”

FLOP kept applying pressure throughout the period. With just over six minutes left, Williamsville took a penalty. On the ensuing power play, Meghan Roche put one from directly in front of the net. Sirena Fitzery and Gabby Demeo were credited with assists. Becker would score her second of the game just 77 seconds later with help from Victoria Mariano and Emily Kromer. Becker, a freshman defenseman, had quite a finish to an impressive season.

“She’s a stud,” Klimowicz said. “She’s an awesome player. I can’t say enough about her. Her puck skills, her skating skills, her leadership, her ability in that locker room. You’d think she’s a senior, but she’s only a freshman. That’s what’s amazing about her.”

The team went into the intermission with a 3-0, but also with the knowledge that Williamsville was fully capable of making up the deficit.

“We were really focused on keeping our composure and not breaking down and playing as a team,” Spyche said. “We didn’t want to be an individual and show off; we wanted to work as a team and be better than them. No matter the outcome of the game, we were always just going to be a team and remember this opportunity.”

Fitzery put further distance between the teams with an unassisted goal more than six minutes into the third period.

“Believe it or not, that fourth goal was huge,” Klimowicz said. “We’ve had the lead on these guys every game this year. We had a 2-1 lead in the first two games and they beat us both games, and we had a 3-1 and they scored with 30 seconds left to tie it. I was trying to stress with the girls that we have a long way to go here and they had to match their intensity and they did.”

Williamsville struck back almost right away with a Leah Czerwinski goal just seven seconds later. Czerwinski would score again on a breakaway with 3:37 left in the game to make it 4-2.

“I just shook it off because I knew my teammates were there to support me,” Spyche said. “All the defensemen have been with me all the years I’ve played. They always support me, so I’ve had a good support system. I knew we would still be good.”

However, the FLOP attack made it difficult for Williamsville to even get the puck out of its own zone for the final few minutes of the game. There was no final comeback, FLOP was the champion.

“They stepped it up a notch,” Klimowicz said. “I told the players that we needed to step it up, too. We need to be strong along the boards because they’re going to be more aggressive pinching.”

The dual-championship season was quite the debut for both Klimowicz as coach and Lake Shore as a member of the team. The school was added in the offseason, making the Kromer sisters (Emily and Mary) part of the team.

“It all came together at the same time,” Klimowicz said. “The two girls from Lake Shore (Emily and Mary Kromer) are friends with and have played with a lot of the girls on the team. We were lucky to have them come aboard. The fact that they had so many great friendships already just made the locker room that much easier and everyone got along great. That’s the thing I said the most about that locker room is from the seventh- to the 12th-graders in there, they all treat each other with respect and they are all friendly with one another. That’s huge.”

The program will bid farewell to three seniors in the offseason, but will return both goalies and every defenseman.

“That’s the big part of our team. Our defense is phenomenal,” Klimowics said. “We have four deep defensemen that are probably four of the top six defensemen in this league. Next year we can roll out those four and shut down any line. We’re going to lose three forwards, which is going to be big. But it’s just like anything, the other kids get older and they step up to the plate and get better.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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