Sunday night at the HarborCenter, the combined Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park team took home the Girls Federation Hockey Championship trophy after a tough game against Williamsville.
Williamsville finished the regular season with a 15-0-3 record, but lost in the first round of the Section VI playoffs. Frontier/Lakeshore/Orchard Park had a 14-3-1 record at the end of the regular season, but finished as the second place team in the state finals.
The game was closely matched, and that showed on the ice.
The team better known as F/L/OP scored four goals in the second and third periods, winning the game 4-2.
The game was tense, with a number of breakaways and scoring attempts made by both teams.
After a scoreless first period, it was apparent that the girls wanted to score – and they did. Sixteen seconds into the second period, F/L/OP’s Brooke Becker, assisted by Jessica Peters and Frangelica Bautz, scored her first goal of the night.
"I was so hyped," Brooke said of her goal. "I had a lot of scoring opportunities and I think that got the whole team going."
Meghan Roche of F/L/OP scored the second goal of the period, with assists from Sirena Fitzery and Gabby DeMeo.
Becker scored again, bringing the score to 3-0. She was assisted by teammates Victoria Mariano and Emily Kromer. The fourth F/L/OP goal was scored by Sirena Fitzery, unassisted.
Four goals from their opponents didn’t stop the Williamsville team from fighting hard for the puck. The girls maneuvered the ice with impressive speed, and just seconds after F/L/OP’s fourth goal, Leah Czerwinski of Williamsville shot the puck into the net. Teammate Laura Kaplan had the assist.
Later in the period, Leah scored again, with Maggie Fuzak assisting her.
"We’re winning this. I thought we were going to win this," Leah said about the goals, but with no hint of sadness. "We all played our hearts out and we were good as a team."
F/L/OP goaltender Maggie Spyche didn’t let the goals throw her off her game.
"I thought to myself that I had to just let it go and keep my head held high ... I really had to stay in the game."
The last few minutes of the game were full of end-to-end play as Williamsville pushed for another goal.
Until the last second of the game, the girls battled hard. Tensions were high; Leah Czerwinski from Williamsville and Emily Kromer from F/L/OP each had penalties for roughing. They came back ready for the end of play.
"The hardest part was definitely waiting for the last few seconds of the game. I was really trying to keep my cool when I knew the game was ours because I didn’t want to blow it." said Maggie.
As the clock hit zero, she and all the F/L/OP girls took to the ice to celebrate their win.
"I was pumped, I was nervous at the beginning but I was also excited because I knew we could win," said F/L/OP’s Abby Lillis as some of her teammates stood close by.
"I’m pumped because we worked hard and the 5:30 (a.m.) practices were worth it," said F/L/OP forward Jessica Carey. "Our 5:30 practices, our tiredness, our smelliness at school if we couldn’t shower. All worth it."
No matter how tired they were after practice, the girls were ecstatic after the game.
"My team and I took that moment and owned it, we worked our butts off and we worked together," Maggie remarked after the win. "I am so proud of everything we have done. Those 5:30 a.m. practices really paid off."
Catherine Reed is a sophomore at Orchard Park High School.