Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park is one win away from claiming a championship hat trick.
Standing in the way of that goal is a Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home team that will be striving for its first Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation title when it meets defending champion FLOP on Feb. 25 at HarborCenter.
Returning to the ice after becoming the first Section VI team to win a state championship over the weekend, FLOP built an early three-goal lead and held on for a 4-3 semifinal victory over Williamsville on Thursday night in a rematch of last week’s sectional final.
CASH came back from surrendering its early advantage to beat Monsignor Martin 4-3 in overtime of the second semifinal in the feature rink at Northtown Center.
“I’m still in shock,” said Emma Faso, who scored the winning goal 1:06 into overtime. “I almost came to tears.”
Faso had a four-point night, scoring twice and assisting on CASH’s other two goals. The Clarence junior has a league-leading 25 goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and ranks fifth on the WNYGVIHF’s all-time scoring list with 115 points.
Sara Barrett skated out of the penalty box to set up the winning goal, firing a hard wrist shot on a partial breakaway that was kicked away by All-Federation goaltender Grace Harrington but created an opportunity for Faso to knock in the rebound.
Faso scored the opening goal in the fifth minute of the game and fed Sara Barrett and Jamie King for third period goals that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead for CASH.
But it was the performance from freshman goaltender Hannah Barrett (25 saves) that has made the difference for CASH during this playoff run, according to coach Nicola Adimey.
“We’ve had talented players on this team for years. Always had people who can score,” Adimey said. “This year with Hannah, we finally have a goalie who plays travel hockey and she makes those necessary saves that keep us in games.”
Monsignor Martin battled back in the second period, out-shooting CASH 15-5 and netting two goals in the 15-minute frame. Emily Matthew scored off a rebound midway through the period and Mackenzie Blake assisted on Izzy Friedman’s go-ahead goal with 53 seconds to go until intermission.
Kayla Blas scored unassisted on a power play to tie the game for Monsignor Martin with 7:17 remaining in regulation. Blas and Friedman also had assists on Matthews’ goal.
In the first semifinal, Raegan Compise and Gabby DeMeo scored 36 seconds apart for FLOP within the first six minutes of the game. Brooke Becker set up Mary Kromer to make it a three-goal lead midway through the second period.
Holly Schmelzer got Williamsville on the board with 4:25 left in the second period. Schmelzer, an All-Federation forward, along with Faso and Blas, responded again for Williamsville midway through the third period after Keegan Shanahan had given FLOP a 4-2 lead.
Amanda Gaffney brought Williamsville within a goal with 5:24 left in the third period but FLOP goaltender Tori Cottrell (22 saves) stood tall in net to prevent overtime.
Maggie Spyche started in goal for FLOP during the sectional and state playoff victories, but Cottrell will guard the crease during Federation playoffs, reversing assignments from last postseason.
“Considering she hasn’t played in two weeks, Tori did a pretty good job,” FLOP coach Bob Klimowicz said.
With two championships already secured, FLOP is determined to complete the trifecta.
“That was our goal all year,” Klimowicz said. “Three championships.”