It’s more than just the result of the game. Its about the experience.
When you can have that memorable moment and still come away with the “W,” you can’t ask for anything more.
Kenmore West’s Michael Barker (hat trick) scored the game winner to lead Buffalo to a 6-5 win over Rochester in the senior game of the 15th Bowman Cup Showcase that was played at KeyBank Center Friday night.
“It’s pretty special,” Barker said of his offensive onslaught. “I didn’t expect it but it happened and it helped the team out.”
Barker’s first goal extended the Buffalo lead to 3-1, but Rochester didn’t roll over.
McQuaid’s Charlie Merkley (two goals) and Heyden Feck (Pittsford) scored back- to-back goals eight seconds apart to give Rochester a 4-3 lead and Merkley’s second goal made it 5-3.
Barker teamed with his Blue Devil linemates Ethan Yotter and Cameron Crosier for Buffalo’s fourth goal, and OP’s Zach Mecca tied it. Barker said that the way Buffalo fought back after falling behind proved how bad everyone wanted it.
“I think we just kept on pushing it and everyone just wanted to win,” Barker said.
Barker, who became the fourth player in Ken West history to reach the 100 career point mark, without question made the play of the game on his game-winning goal.
Barker leveled a Rochester defender into the corner with a booming bodycheck. He then came up with the loose puck and fired it home.
Ken-West head coach Robert Roszak, who was on the Buffalo bench, said that play was trademark Michael Barker hockey.
“He’s got speed,” Roszak said. “When he attacks the puck he’s hard to stop. He attacked the puck, he made a check. He made a play and he scored. That’s Michael Barker as a hockey player, right there.”
Ryan Hahn (Ken East) and Chase Chodkowski (West Seneca West) also scored for Buffalo which last won the Bowman Cup senior game in 2017.
The tourney is named for NHL Hall of Famer and all-time winningest coach Scotty Bowman, who was on hand as always meeting with players and giving out the championship trophies.
The teams played two-22 minute halves.
Carter McWilliams (Canandaigua) scored the game-winner as Rochester scored a 4-2 win over Buffalo to win the Tim Horton Memorial Cup which kicked off the evening.
This gives Rochester the win in four of the last five meetings.
McWilliams’ goal came just eight seconds after Ronin VanDamme (Pittsford) gave Rochester a 2-0 lead.
Grand Island’s Brian O’Neill and Tyler Hunt scored for Buffalo.
Hunt’s goal came with 1:37 left in the game after he scored on a rebound off a shot that was originally taken by Lancaster’s Max Richter.
“Just a nice shot by Richter,” Hunt said. “The goalie was already down so I just spun around and hopes it would go on net.”
While the Buffalo Juniors were obviously disappointed in the outcome coach Rich Crozier (St. Joe’s) said a night like this is more than just the black and white of a win or loss.
He hopes that every player took time to enjoy the experience.
From a pre-game speech from Bowman to playing in a pro rink-this was about making memories.
“Yeah it’s absolutely all about the experience,” Crozier said. “Are the competition juices flowing? Yeah. ... at the end of the day it was just a fantastic year for high school hockey. The icing on the cake is a chance to come out here on the Sabres’ ice. Play where the pros play. Sure, we’re all a tad disappointed. We’d like to have won, but it’s more about just celebrating what’s been a good year of high school hockey and an opportunity for the boys to get together one last time before the offseason.”