It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Kenmore/Grand Island girls hockey team after five Section VI public schools championships in a row. Wrong.
The Devil Dogs upset No. 1 seed Williamsville, 4-2, Monday at Amherst Northtown Center to advance to the sectional final for the sixth year in a row. Kenmore/GI will face FLOP (Frontier-Lancaster-Orchard Park) in the championship game at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The winner will face Beekmantown (Section VII) at 8 p.m. on Friday in the state semifinals at SUNY Canton. The championship game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Senior Olivia Smith, a first team All-Western New York selection the last two seasons led Kenmore/GI with three goals and an assist. The other hero was goalie Ellie Simmons, who stopped 40 of the 42 shots she faced against Williamsville. A seventh-grader at Hoover Middle School in the Kenmore District, Simmons faced 23 shots in the third period alone, when her team managed just one on net, and stopped them all. Her save percentage for the season is .917 with 334 saves on 364 shots against.
"It was a huge win for us," said coach Jeff Orlowski. "Nobody expected that one."
They might have, though, because Orlowski's team has upset No. 1 seed Williamsville each of the last two seasons, once in the semifinals and last season in the championship game.
"Olivia Smith was awesome," Orlowski said. "Tonight she took the team on her back."
Smith scored the first of her three highlight-reel goals with 11:05 left in the first period.
"She came out of her own zone, beat their defenseman walked right in with a quick snap shot under the crossbar," Orlowski said. Williamsville answered that with goals by Leah Czerwinski and Maggie Fuzak to a 2-1 lead. Smith went to work again. She set up a goal by senior Hannah Gallivan to tie it, then scored on two end-to-end rushes.
"They were almost identical," Orlowski said. "She started along the boards at the half-wall, cut to the center and just beat the goalie."
Smith increased her season point total to 30 (18 goals, 12 assists) with her four-point game.
A defensive standout for Kenmore/GI was junior Rosie Boyko (Grand Island), who broke up two Williamsville 2-on-1 breaks late in the game.
Williamsville had gone through the WNY Girls Ice Hockey Federation regular season without a loss in 18 games (15-0-3). Kenmore was 8-10-0, but three of the wins were in overtime which are worth two points not three points in the standings. Also, Williamsville had swept all three regular season games from Kenmore, but that didn't matter on Monday.
The outcome of the regular season games did matter in the other semifinal. FLOP, which had won all three games against CASH (Clarence-Amherst-Sweet Home) triumphed again, 4-1. Jessica Peters, Frangelica Bautz, Megan Roche and freshman Mary Kromer scored for the winners. Roche and Brooke Becker, another freshman, had two assists each. Sophomore goalie Victoria Cottrell had 14 saves in the victory. Charley Rondeau scored for CASH with an assist from Casey Adimey. Gina Denisco was called on for 40 saves against the high-flying FLOP team.
"We have two really strong lines and the third line is playing well," said FLOP coach Bob Klimowicz. "We also have four solid defensemen and all shoot the puck well."
Roche (13-17-30), Mary Kromer 14-14-28, Becker (11-15-26), Bautz (13-11-23) and Peters (10-11-21) of FLOP rank among the WNY Girls Fed scoring leads.
"We know Kenmore is a playing really well with a lot of confidence coming into Wednesday's game.
Also, Klimowicz knows that K-GI's Smith presents a formidable threat. "We have a lot of depth and some good skaters, too," he said. "Obviously she is going to be one of our focal points."
East wins Yale Cup rematch
It's not easy sweeping two games from coach Starling Bryant's East High Panthers. Middle Early Colelge, which had defeated the Panthers two weeks ago found that out Monday.
East came out of the game fast, took a 24-5 first quarter lead and went on to a 70-55 victory over the visiting Kats to maintain a share of first place with South Park in Yale Cup League I.,
"They came out smoking," Bryant said. "We had a bad third quarter, only six points, but we were able to hang on a little bit."
The difference from the last game against Middle College?
"We were playing at home we had a little more intensity," Bryant said. "We came out on fired and made some free throws."
MEC closed the deficit to 47-34 after three quarters but Justin Allen and Willard Anderson took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 of East's 23 points between them. Allen finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds while Anderson had 19 points and six assists. Hakeem Dobbins led MEC with 25 points.
South Park kept winning. The Sparks defeated Burgard, 80-52. East will play at South Park on Feb. 16 in a game that probably will decide the League I title.
Gaines scored 50 for Health Sciences.
Davonte Gaines scored 50 points for Health Sciences in a 122-31 rout of Oracle Charter. The 6-foot-6 junior also had 15 rebounds and eight assists. Health Sciences led 38-7 after the opening quarter and 62-14 at halftime
Franklinville hands E-ville first league loss
Franklinville improved to 6-1 in CCAA East 2 play pinned the first division loss on host Ellicottville, 64-55. Ellicottville is 7-1 in the division. Isaac Kopp (17), Brock Blecha (16) and Sam Erickson (16) led the winners in scoring. Franklin wiped out a 28-25 halftime deficit, outscoring the home team 39-27 in the second half. Austin Grinols hit five three-point shots in a 19-point outing for E-ville. Griffin Chudy had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Elliott Bowen had 11 points and 10 boards for the losers.
Lake Shore wins in ECIC III
In girls basketball, Lake Shore (9-1) took a 1 1/2-game lead over East Aurora (8-3) in ECIC III with a 54-38 victory over the visiting Blue Devils, who again played without star frontcourt player Emma Brinker. The game was tied at 22 at halftime, but senior Raeann White of the Eagles scored 13 of her 25 points in the third quarter to help her team pull away.