Ellie Schau is a solid two-way forward in her first season for a Williamsville team that has plenty of girls who can finish on offense. It is because of that the team has relied more on Schau for her defensive prowess.
The junior reminded folks Thursday at Northtown Center in Amherst that she too can put the puck in the net. She did it three times and wasn’t the only player wearing a dark blue jersey to flaunt a scoring touch.
Schau and Williamsville had quite the day as the team consisting of players from Williamsville East, Williamsville North and Williamsville South won its second Western New York Girls Varsity Hockey Federation championship and first since 2011 with an 8-1 rout of top-seeded Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew.
Schau scored thrice during a four-goal second period for a Williamsville team that scored at least seven times in a game for the 10th time this season. Senior Emma Roland scored twice as the 100-point career scorer had plenty of jump in her stride even though both teams played their third game in as many days. Kelly Dormer also scored twice, while Molly Martin also found the back of the net as Williamsville flipped the script after dropping both regular-season games to LID by scores of 4-2 and 2-0.
“It feels amazing,” Schau said. “LID is a great team. We talked about what we needed to do and just executed.”
“Things are different during the regular season and tonight proved that,” said 10th-year Williamsville coach Rick Hopkins, who dedicated the win to league co-founder and late district athletic director Jim Rusin. “It was a team effort. Real fitting. Tenth year, (assistant) coach (Shauna) Clair was (team) captain Clair 10 years ago. When she held up the trophy in the locker room, there weren’t any team names on it. Williamsville will always be the first (name on it) and for now it’s the last one on it. It’s fitting that we won it on the 10th anniversary.”
While both teams were in the same situation of having to play thrice in three days, it’s something a veteran Williamsville team is used too. It played and won three times in as many days last year in capturing its first Section VI title. After a day off, it played back-to-back games in capturing its first state title.
Williamsville had great jump Thursday and seemed a step ahead of a LID team that’s battling some bumps and bruises.
LID won the past three meetings with Williamsville, including last year’s Fed semifinal clash which prevented Williamsville from joining Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park as the only team to win the sectional, state and Federation championships in the same season (2018). Williamsville (13-2-2) pounced early and never relented until the flood gates opened for good against a LID team (15-1-1) that carried a 15-game winning streak into the final.
Roland drove to the net after dishing to Kiersten Smith and fired the rebound of the latter’s shot past a helpless Dylan Gorski roughly 5 minutes into the game. Nearly 2 minutes later, Dormer scored from below the goal line net as she pinballed a shot in off the back of Gorski, who appeared to be anticipating a cross pass into the slot.
“Getting that first goal was big especially solving Dylan. She’s an outstanding goalie,” Hopkins said. “First goal in any championship game is crucial. They just came together.”
Gorski made a couple nice stops to keep it 2-0 as Williamsville held a 12-4 edge in shots. Schau and Roland then put on a show in the second period.
After tracking down a loose puck in the right corner, Schau skated out to the circle and zipped a quick, low shot past Gorski at 2:06. A couple minutes later, Roland skated around the LID zone like she was in the Ice Capades. The RIT-commit then unleashed a howitzer from the left circle into the top corner. Schau completed her hat trick scoring twice 42 seconds apart late in the period.
Schau, who attends Williamsville East, played only travel hockey for the Buffalo Regals until being convinced by friends to skate for the school district’s Federation team.
Good move for all involved as she had five goals and 15 points in 13 regular-season games. She has four goals in three playoff games.
“Some of my former teammates play on this team and said come out, see how you can do,” she said. “I enjoy it and have had a good time.
“Every game is about defense, keep the play in front of you. I have great linemates Jenna (Cavalieri) and Liz (Jackson). They kind of had the puck down low … got into open areas, got it on net and hoped for the best.”
“She’s great reading a goalie, when shots should be taken,” Hopkins said. “She had the game-winner against Frontier/ Orchard Park/Lake Shore (FLOP) and picked up from there.”
Williamsville finished with a 31-13 edge in shots.
Jersey Phillips scored late in the game for LID to prevent Mia Wendell from posting her second straight shutout. This was LID’s third Federation final appearance but first under first-year coach Kevin Miller, who for years coached Lancaster’s boys Federation team.
Losing 8-1 stings, but it’s lessened by the fact the season continues next week for the Fed’s seven public-school programs as the Section VI Tournament begins Tuesday. LID is the top seed, while Williamsville is No. 2.
“There’s always next week,” Miller said. “I give Williamsville all the credit. They earned it. Hopefully we’ll see them again next week. ... This team will bounce back.”