Brendon Rothfuss wore a huge grin and a drenched Rochester hockey uniform as he stood in a hallway just off the HSBC Arena ice, saying, "I feel like I just won the Stanley Cup."
Rothfuss won a different Cup, but he did it in a major-league way. The Webster Thomas High senior converted a penalty shot with 1:56 left to play to give Rochester its first win in the Scotty Bowman Cup. The Rochester senior team beat Buffalo, 4-3, in the third annual high school hockey showcase.
"To be the first team, it's outstanding," said Rothfuss, who joined his teammates in accepting the Cup from the man for whom the event is named, Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman. "To come together and reverse tradition and bring the Bowman Cup to Rochester is incredible."
An announced crowd of 4,909 watched the line of Shayne Stockton (three goals), Rothfuss (goal, two assists) and Steven Wrobel (two assists) help Rochester withstand a late Buffalo comeback. In the first game of the afternoon's doubleheader, Buffalo remained undefeated in the junior contest with a 7-3 win.
The Rochester seniors controlled the momentum of the game as Stockton scored the first goal of each 17-minute period. Just 11 seconds into the third, he bore in from the left side and wristed a shot between the legs of Erik Hartrich (St. Joe's) for a 3-1 lead.
Buffalo made a great surge in the final minutes to tie the score. Ryan Geary (Williamsville North) banged in a rebound of a shot by Robert Schreck (St. Joe's) with 3:35 left, and Nick Panepinto (Kenmore West) tied the game at 1:58 when he sped down the right wing and snuck a short-side shot past Rochester goalie Michael Battaglia (Batavia), who stopped several flurries among his 12 saves in the third.
"We got that big momentum shift," said Panepinto, "but the call that they got on the penalty shot kinda switched it on us real fast."
Just two seconds elapsed after the ensuing faceoff as Rothfuss broke in alone on the Buffalo net, was taken down and was awarded the penalty shot.
"I was so nervous, and I've never been nervous playing hockey before," said Rothfuss. "Luckily I pulled him enough on my backhand and just brought back the forehand and flipped it over his pad."
Rothfuss and Williamsville North's Justin Kochan were awarded $1,000 scholarships by the Sabres Alumni Association before the game.
For the juniors, Patrick Sullivan (St. Francis) scored twice and Jake Newton (Williamsville North), Brandon Broad (Nichols) and Kevin Ogiba (Niagara-Wheatfield) each had two assists. Buffalo got solid goaltending from Paul Dudish (Lancaster), Michael Musialowski (St. Francis) and Derek Mohney (Sweet Home).