By Dave Ricci
Next stop, state semis.
Tyler Dunning scored the game-winner late in the third period as West Seneca West beat Section V Canandaigua, 2-1, in the NYSPHSAA Division II Regional boys hockey game played at HarborCenter.
The Indians now advance to Saturday’s state semis at HarborCenter, where they will play the winner of Section I John Jay vs. Section II Queensbury. Last appearing in a regional finals in 2013, this marks the farthest West Seneca West has ever gone in the postseason.
“It feels great to keep going,” Dunning said. “I’m a senior so I don’t want my Fed season to be over so I’m gonna keep working. Give it all I got every shift and keep grinding until the season is done.”
The Indians season was definitely in jeopardy after Evan Best’s second-period power-play goal gave the Braves a 1-0 lead.
But the truly tense moment came with 10 minutes left in the game when Braves forward Jake Dreisbach collided with Indians goalie Noah Sobczyk, who collapsed to the ice in pain.
Sobczyk was down for several minutes as the athletic trainer tended to him. Luckily for the Indians, Sobczyk recovered and finished the game because their backup goalie was out of town. With no one else eligible to play net, Indians coach Kevin Rozo said they would have had to play with six skaters.
The Indians took a collective breath and responded the best way they could, on the scoreboard.
“The captains kind of took charge and said, ‘Look we’re doing this together,” Rozo said. “This is family. Noah’ s gotten us this far we gotta bail him out and we gotta do it on the scoreboard.”
Captain Parker Leemer tied the game with 7:15 left, three minutes before Dunning’s winner.
West Seneca West had been keeping constant pressure on Braves goalie Noah Schwartz. The Indians mindset was if we kept throwing pucks at the net, sooner or later they’ll break through.
“We knew that he wasn’t going to stop everything,” Leemer said. “So that’s all we did. We just kept throwing it to the net.”