When it comes to Western New York high school sports rivalries, it doesn’t get much bigger than Canisius-St. Joe’s. The two club hockey teams squared off for the fourth time this season on Monday at the First Niagara Center in the Super Sunday large school championship, and it didn’t disappoint. Unlike the first three, though, St. Joe’s was the team that came out victorious.
Tied at 2-2 with just 50 seconds gone in the 4-on-4 second overtime, St. Joe’s sophomore Michael Greco took a wrist shot from the circle to the goalie’s left and the puck found its way to the back of the net.
“Every game we played them, we thought we were the better team,” said Greco, who earned Most Valuable Player honors for his game-winner. “They’re a great team over there but we thought every time we played them it got closer and closer, so we figured it was our time.”
The 3-2 win gave St. Joe’s (11-7-1) its second straight large school title. Erich Thur and Maxwell McArthur put the Marauders up 2-0 with their first- and third-period goals, respectively. Canisius (10-5-4) MVP Tim Sgroi scored both of the Crusaders’ goals in the third period to tie things up and force overtime.
In the inaugural season of two merged powerhouse club programs in Cheektowaga/Orchard Park, 22-year Cheektowaga coach Steve Ferrentino’s joint squad wrapped up a highly successful season by besting Jamestown/Southwestern/Maple Grove 8-2 to win the mixed school championship.
“After yesterday’s practice, I knew we were going to be good today because we were moving the puck,” said Ferrentino, who’s also a teacher at Orchard Park. “You could see everybody was ready to go.”
Named MVP for Cheektowaga/OP was senior forward Anthony Cybulski, who scored two goals and notched three assists as well. It was his third Super Sunday championship in a row, the previous two coming with Cheektowaga.
Michael Swacha added another two goals for Cheektowaga/OP (15-2-2) while Joe Bienias, Marshall Cappelli, Steve Gosciak and Tyler Kuzdzal each had one.
Senior defenseman Anthony Tomassi, who scored the team’s first goal, was named MVP for Jamestown (5-14). Senior captain Dylan Bergman tallied Jamestown’s other goal.
Starpoint (15-1-3) came out with a 4-2 win in the small school championship over Iroquois (9-16-1) in the night’s final contest, giving the Spartans three Super Sunday victories in the last five years.
“I think our speed in the neutral zone has carried us all year,” Starpoint coach Clayton Wilson said, “and it scored two huge goals for us today.”
Starpoint’s senior captain Andrew Parrish scored two goals, including the game winner, and was named its MVP. Iroquois goalie Maverick Blachowicz earned MVP honors for the Chiefs.
Alex Held scored for Iroquois and Jake Graczyk for Starpoint to make it 1-1. After Parrish’s two successive goals, Iroquois cut Starpoint’s lead to 3-2 in the third period on a goal by Jonathan Lavis. But Pat Miklinski’s empty-netter with 35.5 seconds to go sealed the win for the Spartans.
Next up for each champion is a trip to the New York State Club School Hockey State Tournament, which will be held at Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park on Long Island. Each team will be guaranteed three games between Friday and Saturday, with the potential of two additional games in the semifinals and final on Sunday.