Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park just missed hitting the championship trifecta during the girls hockey season. The team still nailed a pretty rewarding daily double in coach Bob Klimowicz's first season running the show.
FLOP completed a historic season when it captured its first Western New York Girls Varsity Hockey Federation playoff championship with a 4-2 triumph over Williamsville.
In winning that title, it capped a year in which FLOP also won its first Section VI crown – knocking off five-time defending champion Kenmore/Grand Island in the process. The only title to elude the club: State championship.
It wasn't for lack of trying as FLOP lost to a Skaneateles team that did not trail in any game this season.
Klimowicz thought he had a good team after seeing the players skate in practices but practices and games aren't the same regardless of the practice-as-you-play adage.
"I didn't know what to expect. I knew they were competitive," said Klimowicz, who shifted from coaching Frontier's boys team to the girls combined crew. "I was amazed by the amount of talent in the girls league and the level of play."
While he's talking about the Fed that also could go for his own team – of which a good chunk is set to return next season. FLOP had six of the top 13 scorers in the league with four of them being underclassmen.
That includes defenseman Brooke Becker. That verbal commit to Providence is the only freshman to land a spot on the annual All-Federation Team, which is selected by league coaches. The top scoring defenseman in the league finished with 12 goals and 31 points – good for eighth overall. She had a goal and an assist in the state semifinal win over Beekmantown and added two goals and an assist in the Fed final versus Williamsville.
While Klimowicz, who earned Coach of the Year honors, said any of his four defensemen could have been No. 1s on teams in the league, Becker anchored a crew that yielded just 28 goals in 25 games as FLOP (20-4-1) finished with a league-best plus-52 goal differential.
She's the only FLOP player to make first team, while freshman forward Mary Kromer (18 goals, 33 points) earned a spot on second team. Other top scorers set to return include older sister Emily Kromer (23 points), while sophomore Jessica Peters had 13 goals and 26 points. FLOP's other three defensemen also are set to return in eighth-grader Tory Mariano and juniors Gabby DeMeo and Sirena Fitzery. Both goalies, Victoria Cottrell and Maggie Spyche, were sophomores. Each earned championship-game wins during the season – Cottrell in sectionals and Spyche in the Federation.
The team only loses three seniors – two of which are heading to Mercyhurst in leading scorer Meghan Roche (15 goals, 35 points) and her cousin Frangelica Bautz (17 goals, 32 points).
"We're definitely going to be the hunted," Klimowicz said.
While FLOP, which had three quality lines, only had one player make the All-Fed First Team, the crew isn't lacking star power with two sixth-year players highlighting the selections.
That includes Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home forward Julia Mings. She became just the second player in league history to surpass 100 career goals (104) as she completed her senior season leading the Fed in goals (33), points (56) and points-per-game average (2.55).
Another sixth-year player on first team is Olivia Smith. A key figure for a Kenmore/Grand Island team that won five straight Section VI titles and reached the final again this past season, she finished with 21 goals and 35 points – capping a career in which she finished with a program-record 136 points.
The other forward on the first team is Leah Czerwinski, who finished with 21 goals and 10 assists for a Williamsville team that went 15-0-3 during the regular season.
Members of Monsignor Martin earned the final two spots. They are defenseman Ellie Cleary and goaltender Brianna Gawronski. Cleary had eight goals, including two game-winners, and 15 points. Gawronski, a senior, finished with a .946 save percentage and a 1.25 goals-against average.