Veteran Williamsville North coach Bob Rosen earned a milestone, a championship and game MVP honors Sunday afternoon as the Spartans ended Orchard Park’s championship reign by defeating the Quakers 5-1 in the Section VI Division I final at KeyBank Center.
Jacob Okulewicz scored twice while fellow senior Mason Meggo’s goal 41 seconds into the game sparked a three-goal-first-period blitz by the Spartans (14-8-1), who outshot OP 42-23 in securing their ninth playoff title in program history.
The victory is the 500th in the illustrious 30-year career of Rosen, the only head coach in Williamsville North hockey history. Rosen, who has guided the program to five New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships, is the winningest active coach in the state and is one of just four to have amassed at least 500 wins.
And for the first time in his coaching career, and first time since his playing days at Canisius College, Rosen also earned a game MVP trophy – an honor usually reserved for the player who has the best game. Rosen said if anything he should've shared MVP honor with Okulewicz.
“I’ve had a lot of great teams and a lot of great kids,” Rosen said. “Not all the teams win, but some of the great teams are the makeup of the kids and being around them, and this is one of those groups that you’re just really happy to be around day in and day out. I’m happy for them and that it could be my 500th win today.”
At KeyBank Center Sunday, Meggo picked off a cross-ice pass in the Quakers’ zone, near the top of the left circle and quickly zipped a shot past Ryan Albert to make it 1-0 North.
“We went over that on film and one went right on Meggo’s stick and he walked in and buried it which was sweet,” Rosen said. “You know when you prepare and a team sees something positive come out of what you just went over for the last three days well you get immediate satisfaction and gratification that it’s done and it works.”
The lead grew when Okulewicz scored on a turnaround slap shot with 7:09 left in the first. Mac Ward fired in a rebound to make it 3-0 with 4:30 left in the frame.
OP had a great chance late in the period to get on the board but Henry Braun (22 saves) made consecutive saves from point-blank range to keep the Quakers off the board.
Owen Hughes scored on the power play to make 3-1 with 9:59 left. Plenty of time for more goals. Fortunately for the Spartans, it was they who kept scoring with Okulewicz quickly quelling the Quakers’ comeback bid. He split the defense on the rush and scored top shelf 1:21 later.
“The fact the milestone landed on this game is kind of coincidental,” Okulewicz said. “This reflects how hard he has worked for us and all of the coaching staff.”
Matthew Scott completed the scoring for North, which faces Ithaca in a state quarterfinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday at LECOM Harborcenter.