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Williamsville North beats Lancaster in overtime to repeat as hockey champions

Williamsville North went from the lowest of lows to the ultimate high in a matter of a few minutes.

Adam Batz's goal 16 seconds into overtime enabled the Spartans to repeat as Section VI Division I hockey champions as they defeated Lancaster, 3-2, before an estimated 1,500 at KeyBank Center on Monday night.

Batz fired a shot from the right circle off the rush that hit the post and caromed into the net as two Legends players and their goalie desperately tried to keep the puck from trickling over the goal line to no avail.

With the win, Williamsville North advances to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association quarterfinals on Saturday against the Section III champion, West Genesee, at Shove Park in Syracuse.

"It feels great," said Batz, who scored twice and is believed to be just the second player in Fed history to earn back-to-back most valuable player honors in a league championship game. "There's nothing better than to win in front of your friends."

It took a fortuitous bounce after a potential gut-kicking game-tying goal by Lancaster's Shawn Kross with 5.3 seconds left in order for the Spartans to extend their season.

"One thing about an overtime game is there's no such thing as a bad shot," longtime North coach Bob Rosen said.

That goal kept up a trend by Batz of scoring big goals in the home of the Buffalo Sabres. Last season, he scored the title-clinching goal in a 1-0 victory over Niagara Wheatfield. He also scored two years ago for the Spartans in the final.

"He saved his best game of the year (for Monday night)," Rosen said. "That's his best all-around game of his career. He can score goals. He has that shot, but tonight he was great in his own zone. He probably stopped four goals. Stopped four goals, scored twice, that makes him plus-6 in my book."

Brett Sardina also scored for North, which played in a Fed championship game for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons.

North took a 1-0 lead in the second on Batz's first goal, a quick shot from the lower left circle off a feed toward the front that deflected to him off goalie Justin Stotz's stick. Lancaster tied it on the power play with 10 seconds left in the second, a great end-to-end rush by Kross in which he split the defense and slipped a backhander past goalie Jake Zurat (20 saves).

North took a 2-1 lead with 6:13 left on a goal by Sardina, who deposited a rebound of a Matt Bielinski shot into the net.

Both teams had chances thwarted by goaltenders Zurat and Stotz, with the Legends' netminder denying a late North chance to give his team a chance at the tie. Stotz finished with 25 stops.

The teams split the regular-season series.

Lancaster put on a good showing in its first championship game appearance against a North team that's accustomed to playing in the final.

It wasn't enough to keep the Spartans from capturing their eighth overall Federation championship game title since the formation of the league back in 1990.

"Toughest loss of the year," Lancaster coach Kevin Miller said. "You've got to give them credit. We knew it would be a close game."

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