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Anna Meyer: A True Volunteer

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

With the exception of one game, Anna Meyer has been the starting goaltender for the Williamsville girls high school hockey team this season.

But more on Meyer a little later. How she became the team’s starting goalie is the more interesting story.

Williamsville girls high school hockey head coach, Rick Hopkins, knew coming into tryouts for the upcoming 2022-23 hockey season the team was missing one key position.

Goaltender.

“We found out in August that we didn’t have a goalie for this upcoming season,” stated Hopkins, now in his 13th season as head coach of the Williamsville girls high school hockey team. “We thought that someone would step forward, maybe a house league player, a select team goalie or someone that we weren’t aware of.

“Being the optimist that I am, I figured we had some time. It was August and tryouts weren’t until November.”

But when the first day of tryouts came in November there were two things that Hopkins and the rest of the team noticed.

“The first was no goalie,” remarked Hopkins. “The second was that it was the smallest team we had ever had tryout with only 17 skaters.”

After two tryouts there were still no goalies.

“That’s when Molly Martin talked to me and said she would volunteer,” said Hopkins of his 2022 All-League defenseman. “Then Shannon Pogorzala and Sophia DePrima stepped up.

“The trio told me they would rotate the goaltending duties. I knew that would be a huge challenge.”

Then, in the team’s final practice before their opening game of the season, Meyer stepped up and volunteered.

“She came to me and said that she would be goalie,” recalled Hopkins. “At that moment there was a sigh of relief from the whole team, including players and the coaching staff.”

For Meyer, who was originally trying out with the team as a defenseman, it seemed like the logical thing to do.

“I was a freshman, I volunteered and my dad talked me into it,” recalled Meyer, the daughter of Rob and Sabrina Meyer. “I knew that I would be around with this team for the next few years.

“My brother used to play the position when he was in squirt hockey. So we had the equipment.

“So it seemed like the logical thing for me to do.”

Meyer remembered that opening game of the season and the first she ever started in goal. It was an 8-1 loss to the Niagara County Warriors, with Meyer giving up all eight goals.

“All I remember is that my dad was always standing behind me in the corner,” commented Meyer, who has a younger brother, Robert “Jack” Meyer. “After every shot I would look over at him and he would just look at me and tell me to ‘focus on the next shot. Focus on the next shot.’

Despite her rough start, Meyer was working on becoming a better goaltender. That included going to Bob Janosz’s school of goaltending.

“We were very familiar with the Janosz clinics because my brother had gone to him,” recalled Meyer, who is a freshman attending Williamsville East High School. “Going to Janosz helped me with my footwork and positioning.

“I also learned how to be square to the puck and how to angle the puck. I learned how to properly use my glove, blocker and stick.”

But the one thing that has really helped Meyer throughout the season is the tremendous support her teammates have giving her.

(Anna Meyer continues blocking shots)

“They have been so supportive and kind about the whole situation,” remarked the 14 year-old Meyer. “On the ice, they are cheering for me all the time.

“Even when I make the world’s most easiest save, they’re rooting their heads off for me. It’s been amazing.”

A season that looked bleak at the beginning of the season, has really turned around with the team finishing with a winning record and Meyer coming quite steady in goal. But Meyer even had a bonus.

“I touched the puck that went to Molly Martin took and went down the ice and scored,” said Meyer. “So I picked up an assist on the play.”

After being a skater for several years and playing defense, Meyer has learned a lot about his old position.

“I’ve learned a lot from Molly Martin and Shannon Pogorzala, who play defense,” commented Meyer, who finished the regular season with a record of 9-5-1, a .862 save percentage and a 3.21 goals-against-average with two shutouts. “If I lose site of the puck, they will yell to me which side the puck is on.

“They’ll also tell me if I have the puck covered if I’m on top of it and can’t see it. All of my teammates on defense help me.

“The whole team has helped me. It’s been great.”

So what about next season?

“I’ll come back as a goalie, if they want me to and if I’m needed,” answered Meyer. “I’ll be a skater and play defense if they want.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

Coach Hopkins summed up the Meyer goaltending situation.

“I’ve told her how proud I am, along with the team, of her,” concluded Hopkins. “She stepped forward to play a position that she had never played before.

“What is important here is that she wanted to do it. I was glad she had been a defenseman.

“She had the experience of skating backwards and seeing the ice from a goalie’s perspective. She had tremendous support from her family.

“She got equipment from her family, as well as our coaching staff and former players. And her first official practice with our team was the five-minute warm-up the team got before our first regular-season game.

“Anna has such a passion and she has worked so hard. Even after she gave up eight goals in that first game, she was smiling in the lockerroom after the game.

“That’s when I knew she had it. She had what it takes mentally to play the position.

“The team has played so hard in front of her. Anna was an inexperienced goalie.

“Now she’s an experienced goalie. Anna’s got what it takes.

“It’s been a special year for all of us thanks to Anna and a great team effort.”

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography; NY Hockey OnLine)

Someone Watching over Army Hockey

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By Warren Kozireski —

Army’s men’s hockey team managed just two victories over their eight January games and just two others in December, so their 3-2 overtime road victory Friday night was unexpected for those reasons and others.

On three separate occasions early in Black Knights power play opportunities, they took offensive zone penalties to negate the man advantage. Then, during the three-on-three overtime sophomore forward Joey Baez lost his footing and fell to one knee while on the left-wing rush to seemingly throw away another scoring chance, but his backhand from his knees found the back of the net for the win.

“Seven years ago today, my dad (iconic hockey coach Jack Riley) died,” 19th year Army head coach Brian Riley (see photo above) said. “When I woke up today—usually when you wake up on game day it’s nerves, but there was just a calming and I just felt like he was watching over us and obviously he was.

(Jack Riley)

“That was a good college game back and forth. We got down twice, then we were able to come back and, overtime three-on-three anything can happen. Baez if falling down and throws something to the net and it goes in.

“It was disappointing how we managed the game at times and it’s Feb. 2; you can’t be making those type of mistakes, especially when every game is a playoff game and tonight, we made it harder than we needed too.”

The win leapfrogged Army over Niagara in the Atlantic Hockey standings with 28 points—tied with Mercyhurst for fourth place and a first round bye pending the results of later games.

(Army/West Point Hockey Photo/USA Hockey Photo)

WNYGVIH: It’s Playoff Time!

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Photos and Story by Janet Schultz, NYHOL

The 2022-23 ice hockey regular season has come to a close and the Western New York Girls Ice Hockey Federation begins its playoffs and then the Championship. Another season that went quickly and gave us all a lot of enjoyment, some frustration but lots of good hockey!

Kenmore/Grand Island/Lockport secured the #1 seed in the League last week but it took some final games to finalize the other places. A reminder that the League is all nine teams and that St. Mary’s of Lancaster and Monsignor Martin are not in Section VI, thus two sets of standings and two Championship games.

Obviously, St. Marys will play Monsignor Martin in the Private School Championship scheduled for Monday, February 13 at 6 p.m. at Cornerstone Arena in Lockport. That will be followed by the Section VI Championship at 8 p.m. So how will that play out?

Let’s look at what happened this past week.

Monday night had LIDA facing Niagara County and NiCO coming out with a 3-2 victory. Natalee Lawrence had the game-winning goal, along with one additional and Abby Zimmerman had an unassisted goal. Mariela Mulready stopped 14 of 16 shots-on-goal. It was Sydney Radecki with both goals for LIDA and Carly Irzycki stopping 19 of 22. 

Tuesday night it was KENGIL 6-5 and NiCo over HEWSH, 4-1.

Izzy Bourgeault dropped in KENGIL’s first three goals for a hattrick and added an assist later on. Madison Flory scored a short-handed goal and Isabella Jayme added another to the scoreboard. In goal Jordan Hofschneider stopped 13/18 SOG. For LIDA it was Radecki with two goals, one on the power play, Kowalow an unassited goal and a power play goal. Irzycki stopped 22/28.

Madison Mallone had a hattrick and the game-winner for NiCo in their victory over HEWSH. Sam Latinie scored the final goal and Kennedy Ruest stopped 29/30 for the win. Meghan Waszkielewicz scored for HEWSH, assisted by Liliann Drzazgowski. In goal and stopping 20/24 was Ella Buczynski.

Clarence/Amherst/SweetHome celebrated Senior Night on Wednesday, then lost to St. Mary’s 4-2. No goals were scored in the first period and then St. Mary’s got on the board at 4:46 of the second period with a shot by Rosslyn Miller, assisted by Danielle Cottrell. Miller came back with another one, unassisted and St. Mary’s took the lead for a few minutes. Then CASH stepped us scoring two goals, one by Jenny Wild and another by Isabella Zivis to tie the score as the second period ended. It also ended with a St. Mary’s penalty. It looked like an overtime was headed our way when Avery Szczesek scored on the powerplay with 3:52 left and then scored the empty netter ending it 4-2. Avery Hall made 30 of 32 shots and for CASH Kylie Paige stopped 24/27.

The final night of the regular season and the celebration of Williamsville and Monsignor Martin’s seniors found FFLOP and MMAA ending in a 2-2 tie and Williamsville victorious over CASH 5-3.

The Seniors scored for MMAA–first Isabella Fedele, unassisted and then Courtney Bonner, assisted by Prendergast (this was on the scoresheet but there is a question). In goal Senior Desiderio stopped 22/24 shots. For FFLOP it was Mya Dalton, assisted by Luci Bowen and Jocelyn Smaczniak, assisted by Avery McDonald. Rachael Fix stopped 23/25 sog. With no scoring in the first period, FFLOP scored with 2:52 left in the second to go up 1-0. MMAA scored 1:27 into the third period with an extra attacker to go to Overtime. 

Over at Northtown Williamsville’s Allison Besancon had two goals, Alena Lombardo and Scarlet Canna each had a goal with Molly Martin scoring the game-winner. Anna Meyer stopped 16/19 for the W. For CASH it was Tessa Kwiatowski, Zivis and Sydney Spear scoring. Melissa MacLeod stopped 22/27.

Radecki (LIDA) hit the 30 goal mark in the regular season and is only the sixth player to do so in WNYGVIH Federation history. She did it in a 14 league games and with her 7 goals has 37 points. She sits in the first positon on the Scoring chart. 

Riley Andzel is second with 26 goals and 10 assists for 36 points. She is followed by Madison Flory (32 pts), Isabelle Bourgeault (32 pts.) and Isabella Jayme (29 pts.)

Leading goaltenders in save percentage are: Samatha Horne (.973), Carolyn Bourgeault (.967) and Jordan Hofschneider (.917), Kennedy Ruest (.914) and Abrie Iannucci (.903).

Ella Buczynski has 11 wins, Bourgeault has 10 and Anna Meyer, 9. Bourgeault leads with 7 shutouts and she is followed by Buczynski with 5. 

In the KENGIL vs LIDA game there were 11 goals, the most this season in one game; a hattrick, breakaways, the first powerplay goal scored by KENGIL (by LIDA’s Kowalow) and a short-handed goal.

So mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 7 as the Section VI Quarterfinals are played at Northtown Arena. At 4:30 p.m. it’s #7 CASH vs #2 NiCo; 6 p.m. #6 FFLOP vs #3 HEWSH and at 7:30 p.m. #5 LIDA vs #4 Williamsville. 

Semi-finals will be played Thursday, February 9, at Northtown with Fourth place seed playing First place KENGIL and third seed playing second seed.

The Private School  Championship will be  played at 6 p.m. with #8 St. Mary’s of Lancaster facing off with #7 Monsignor Martin.

The Section VI Championship will be played at 8 p.m. Both games are at Cornerstone Arena in Lockport.

The Semi-Finals and Championship games will be broadcast by WNY Athletics; NYHOL’s Randy Schultz doing color commentating.

In other WNYGVIH news:

Williamsville’s Molly Braunscheidel has been accepted and will play hockey for Nichols High School next season. Braunscheidel is played both defense and forward this season as an eighth grader from Mill School.

Lara Beecher, a former player with Monsignor Martin (2019-20) was named to the Women’s Hockey Commissioner Association’s National Rookie of the Year Wait List. She plays for the University of  Vermont.

Gabby DeMeo, formerly with FLOP (2016-17-18) hit the 100 century mark by playing 103 games with Nazareth College.

Former KGI Goaltender Ellie Simmons played in the 2023 FISU University Games in Lake Place as a goaltender for Team USA. They placed third. Ellie plays for the University of Vermont.

Here’s to a great Playoff!

(Editor’s Note: NYHOL  is using Smug Mug to post all the photos taken by Janet during the season. These are available just to look at; but you can also purchase them. This is the first year we are using this and it’s a testing period to see how it works for clients and the photographer. So be sure to checkout the albums posted at https://janetschultz.smugmug.com and be sure to continue checking our website for stories at www.nyhockeyonline.com.)

The Beauts Sauve Has Connection With Vezina. Yes, That Vezina

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

When Kassidy Sauve signed her contract to play for the PHF’s Buffalo Beauts for the 2022-23 season the first thing that caught the eye of many older Buffalo Sabres fans was her last name: SAUVE.

Could she be related to the former Buffalo Sabres goaltender, Bob Sauve? Could it just be a coincidence that Kassidy just happened to also be a goalie?

“As far as I know, I don’t think I’m related to them,” answered the Beauts netminder, who is currently on the team’s injured reserve list. “I haven’t looked that deep into my family roots, but I don’t think so.”

But it doesn’t end there. She did find out a bit of information about her family roots from her grandmother.

“We were talking about our family, and she happened to mention that I’m related to the hockey player that the Vezina Trophy is named after,” recalled Sauve, a native of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.

Vezina? As in Georges Vezina, the Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender?

“According to my grandmother, I’m related to him,” stated Sauve. “Her maiden name is Vezina.

“She’s not sure exactly how we’re related, but we are related to him.

“We were having a conversation about it about five or six years ago.

No matter if Kassidy is related to Bob Sauve or Georges Vezina, she has had a pretty outstanding hockey career herself for someone who is only 26 years old.

Kassidy admits that she had a hockey play for herself as she was growing up.

“I honestly wanted to play in the NHL,” said Sauve. “It was my dream to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“But I’m doing something pretty cool here in Buffalo with the Beauts. If somebody would have told me 10 years ago that I would be playing women’s professional hockey today, I would have never believed it.

Kassidy, a native of Whitby, Ont., Canada, played for the Whitby Whildcats in the boys Eastern AAA Hockey League, making to the 2012 OHL Cup.

“There were some girl’s hockey teams around when I was growing up,” stated Sauve. “But I had played boys hockey with my brother and I was determined to continue playing boys hockey for as long as I could.

“I really enjoyed being on the team. We had a lot of fun. And we ultimately won it all.”

From there it was on to Ohio State University where she played for the women’s ice hockey program in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). Unfortunately, she missed half the 2014-15 season and all of the 2015-16 season, recovering from surgery after suffering a number of hip and leg injuries.

Sauve commented on why she had the injuries and why other modern day goaltenders are suffering the same type of injuries.

“I think it’s how the game has transitioned into such a fast paced game,” remarked Sauve, who is currently on the injured reserve list for the Beauts. “The constant up and down makes for a lot of wear and tear on your hips.

“Just look at some of the positions that you find goalies in when making a save. They are not natural.”

In her three healthy seasons with the Buckeyes, Sauve recorded 22 shutouts, which is still an Ohio State record.  She graduated from Ohio State, but her college hockey career was still not quite finished.

In a surprise move, Sauve moved on to Clarkson University with the Golden Knights women’s hockey program and played the 2018-19 campaign as a postgraduate player. In her one season at Clarkson she posted a .937 save percentage and set a university record for saves in one season.

To top it all off she was named to the ECAC Third Team All-Star team as well as twice being named ECAC goaltender of the month.

“It was a chance for me to continue my education, get my MBA and continue playing hockey,” remembered Sauve. “At that point women’s pro hockey wasn’t where it is now.

“My parents had always pushed education and I believed that myself. And to be able to get two college degrees during my five-year college career was ideal.”

From there it was on to the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), representing the organization in showcases with the Calgary and Toronto chapters.

“Playing there was great, but I wasn’t getting enough volumn of games,” stated Sauve.

So it was off to Finland, where she played in the Finnish Naisten Liga (NSML).

“It was a really good opportunity for me,” said Sauve. “Honestly, going there really made me fall in love with hockey all over again.

“I was almost ready to call it quits just before going over to Finland.

“I love hockey,” remarked Sauve,” who coaches hockey during the summer months. “I literally eat, sleep and breath hockey.

“It’s been my passion ever since I was a kid. I enjoy doing other things on the side like graphic design.

“I currently have a part-time job in graphic design and really like it.”

How much longer would the young goaltender like to play?

“My goal is to make it until I’m 32,” answered “That’s my jersey number.

“But I wouldn’t mind going longer. I really enjoy being here in Buffalo and would like to play with the Beauts as long as I can.”

Of course Sauve’s grandmother knows best.

“My grandmother told me that being related to Georges Vezina is probably why I’m so good,” concluded Sauve. “All I ever wanted to do was be a goalie.

“Maybe somebody was looking down on me and made me a goalie. It’s pretty cool being related to someone who has a trophy named after them in the NHL.

“It would be so super cool to have my name on that trophy someday.”

Who knows?

(Photo’s by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine and Clarkson University Women’s Hockey)

Zanon Wins CHA Forward Of The Month

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Kiara Zanon, Jr., F, Penn State (Fairport, N.Y.)

Penn State junior Kiara Zanon led the CHA in goals with seven, and added three assists throughout the month. On Dec. 4 against Syracuse, the Fairport, N.Y., native registered her first career hat-trick. In three of the four contests for the Nittany Lions, she posted multi-point games. The junior helped in all situations as she notched two goals on the power-play, buried a shorthanded marker, and collected a game-winner. She totaled a +9 rating, four faceoff wins and two blocks, while firing off 24 shots. This is Zanon’s fifth career CHA monthly honor and second of the season.

(Penn State Women’s Hockey Photo)

WNYGVIH: Week 8 Done!

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By Janet Schultz, NYHOL; All Photos by Janet Schultz©NYHOL

KENGIL sits in first place and has secured the #1 seed in the WNYGVIH Federation playoffs. They will have a bye for the first round which begins Tuesday Feb. 7 at 4:30 p.m. at Northtowns Arena.

The week opened with St. Mary’s holding their Senior Night in a game against LIDA. LIDA had a 6-1 victory over St. Mary’s. Claire Whiteford had the winning goal at 8:32 of the first period, assisted by Hailey Muff and Emily Lysiak. Carly Irzycki stopped 22 of 23 shots on goal for the win. Caragh McGillicuddy had the lone goal for St.Mary’s on a breakaway, assisted by Lauren Gilano and Captain Reece Gall.

NICO took CASH 4-1 in the second game on Monday evening. Scoring the game winner for NiCo was Missy Mallone, assisted by Abby Zimmerman. CASH’s lone goal was dropped in by Polina Stremiakova in the third period. Mariela Mulready stopped 14/15 shots for the W.

A very action Tuesday night with three games on tap.

First FFLOP beat LIDA 3-1 on LIDA’s Senior Night. FFLOP’s Emily Patton Maya Griffin and Mya Dalton each contributed goals that won the game. Helping stop LIDA’s 17 shots was Kerrigan McCarthy. LIDA’s only goal came from Kayla Buczkowski, unassisted, in the third period. 

Williamsville had command of their game against HEWS and won 5-3. Molly Martin had the game-winner and her assist came from Goaltender Anna Meyer. Meyer has now “done it all” with a shutout, a win, an assist and as a volunteer at the beginning of the year. Allison Besancon had two goals that evneing and Martin added in three assists for the evening. Alex Hennessy also had an unassisted goal. For HEWS it was Riley Andzel opening the scoring and then she added a second one. Liliann Drzazgowski had an unassisted goal for HEWS. 

Later that evening at Lincoln Arena, KENGIL continued their winning ways by beating St. Mary’s 6-0 on KENGIL’s Senior Night. Seniors Carolyn Bourgeault and Jordan Hofschnieder shared in the win and secured KENGIL’s First Place in the League. Putting the pucks in the net for KENGIL was Isabella Jayme, Isabelle Bourgeault, Isabella Burt and Kiley Turnbull. Looks like KENGIL has an Izzy line!!

Wednesday’s matchup between LIDA and CASH was moved to Thursday at Northtowns. LIDA took the game 5-1 with Jenny Wild had the lone goal for CASH. Allie Marshall had the winning goal for LIDA, assisted by Radecki. Radecki added an unassisted goal and Brynn Cafferty scored two. Abrie Iannucci stopped 20 SOG for the win. 

Monsignor Martin beat St. Mary’s of Lancaster 2-0 at North Buffalo. Isabella Fedele had the game-winner and Alex Franke dropped in the second goal. Alena Desiderio got the win stopping all 18 shots fired by St. Mary’s. In net for St. Mary’s was Accurso. This is a preview of the match-up in the Private School Championship, but both teams have had some strong goaltending and scoring on any given night. They each have one more game in the regular season to play. MMAA has 8 points and St. Mary’s sits at 6 pts in the final two places in the league.

As it sits now, HEWS is in second place with 35.5 points and NiCo is in thierd with 33 pts. Again both teams have another game to play. They are followed by Williamsville, FFLOP, LIDA and CASH. 

Rifley Andzel (HEWS) has 26 goals and 10 assists for 36 points, leading the League in Points. She is followed by Sydney Radecki (LIDA) with 32; Madison Flory (KGI) 29; I. Bourgeaults (KGI) 28 and I Jayme (KGI) 27 points. Lots of movement can happen there also.

KGI”s Jordan Hofschnieder sits in first place in Goaltending with a .981.5 save percentage and she has 3 shutouts. Her teammate Carolyn Bourgeault has 7 shutouts so far this season and a .967.5 save percentage. 

The schedule has each team playing at least one game Monday, Jan. 30 through Thursday, Feb. 2. We will celebrate seniors at the CASH, MMAA and Williamsville games this week.

Pelham’s Miklakos Adds Needed Depth To Ranked Geneseo

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By Warren Kozireski —

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, to say Stefan Miklakos has improved would be a gross understatement. And we’re not just referring to his offensive numbers, which stood at nine goals and 16 points over 18 games after recording just eight points as a freshman.

“He went from a player last year that found himself in the penalty box a lot because he plays with an edge, he’s chippy and he can get emotion and we had a postseason meeting last year (and told him) we don’t want you playing for us if that’s how it’s going to be all the time,” Geneseo head coach Chris Schultz said.

“He took four or five months thinking about what I said and he’s come back and he’s been an offensive threat and that’s exactly how we need him playing. It’s amazing when you put your energy and focus, control your emotion and use the skill that God gives you and you go out there and do it.

“He’s actually a great success story for us right now.”

The sophomore forward through the first 18 games this season had already doubled his point total from a year ago and almost doubled his goals.

“This summer I worked on my skill-set a lot, worked more on the mental side of the game, a lot of video and reading the play, and I’ve gotten more of an opportunity this year too,” Miklakos said in late January. “I have great linemates as well and they are able to find me in open areas and I feel like we gel well, so it was good to go into the season.

“I try to be an energizer, I try to get into the play fast, pump some bodies and get on the offensive side a little bit more—I’m trying to shoot more this year. The more I play with my head up, the more opportunities I get, so I feel like when I’m energized and my compete level is high, I’m playing my best hockey.”

Miklakos split both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons between Pelham High and the Connecticut Jr. Rangers 16U squads before joining Avon Old Farms prep school for two seasons. One-plus season in the NAHL with Lone Star and another half season back in Connecticut led him to Geneseo.

“My Avon coaches were pushing me to play in the BC (British Columbia) to play more of that skill game, but I did get a call from Lone Star and they thought I could bring that energized play and unfortunately I battled a couple of injuries. He was a tough coach to play for, but I learned a lot from him, landed in a great spot (back) in Connecticut and I took a lot of the things I learned from there (Texas) and incorporated them into that league.

“It (going back to Connecticut) was a good switch; I was able to play more and I was able to get more puck touches.”

Miklakos grew up rooting for the New York Islanders, but is a fan of Toronto Maple Leaf Mitch Marner largely due to their similarities in play and physique.

And like most players, he will always remember his first collegiate goal. It came in the third period against Nazareth on Oct. 30, 2021.

“Came down the right side with speed, cut the middle hard and I just ripped a shot really fast blocker side. It’s one of my main moves, but it doesn’t always work because there’s a guy coming hard down the middle that wants to take your head off.”

(Geneseo Hockey Photos)

Pomona’s Posma Follows Brother Into Division I Hockey

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By Warren Kozireski —

Niagara University freshman defenseman David Posma saw his brother, Mike, move into Division I hockey one year ago with the Boston College Eagles. Now he has made the same leap to Atlantic Hockey.

But they didn’t reach this level blindly as their father, Bob, played two years on defense at Plattsburgh State from 1991-93 and their uncle Mike played on the blueline at Western Michigan University for four years followed by one season in the American Hockey League with Utica and eight more seasons playing professional in Switzerland. He was a second-round draft pick of St. Louis in 1986.

“I don’t know; we have four people playing hockey in my family with three defenseman and my brother ended up being a forward—I don’t know how,” Posma said in early January. “We’re two opposite players; he’s more of a skill guy and I’m more hard-nosed.”

While his brother has scored four goals over the one-plus season at Boston College, David is still looking for his first collegiate goal through the first 21 games. But the Niagara defense combined had only scored once in 103 games played, so he is not alone for the Purple Eagles.

“Everything has been going great; we have an unbelievable group of guys here and I think we can achieve very good things this year,” Posma said. “It’s not to us about all the skill, it’s about the hard work we put in in practice every day and we have this thing—it’s to get one percent better every day.

“The speed from juniors to college is a big step for me, but all the guys push me in practice.”

But the coaching staff has shown confidence in the younger defensemen including Posma with three or four underclassmen among the six or seven man group most nights.

“He has been awesome; he’s obviously a really young guy, but his juice and his energy is incredible,” Niagara head coach Jason Lammers said about Posma. “His maturity for a young guy is off the charts and he’s been really impressive as a player. He’s a big part of what we’re doing. Our first year guys have done a phenomenal job of getting acclimated to college hockey.”

Posma stayed in the tri-state area for all but one season of his hockey developmental period starting at Brewster Ice Arena in Westchester.

“I grew up playing for the Westchester Express and then I played for the Avalanche (North Jersey) and then went to play prep school for a year (Mount Charles Academy, Rhode Island)) and then my senior year playing juniors in New Jersey (with the Titans in the NAHL).

Niagara was 6-2-2 in non-conference games through mid-January and two games above .500 overall and just a weekend sweep out of the top-four in the conference. Through the team’s first 22 games this season, the 6’0”, 170 lb. left-shot freshman led the entire team with a +5 plus/minus rating.

Posma didn’t really remember his first collegiate point—a secondary assist against Sacred Heart on Oct. 21, but rest assured he will remember his first collegiate goal, whenever it comes.

“Oh yeah, still waiting for that one to come.”

(Photo by James P. McCoy, Niagara University Athletics)

It’s PHF All-Star Gameday

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TORONTO, ONT., CANADA — The Premier Hockey Federation All-Stars are in Toronto competing with national pride on the line in a three-team round-robin and championship event that will feature the league’s top talent from Canada, the United States, and international countries. Don’t miss a minute of the action in this exciting new format, underway at 7:00 p.m. ET live in the United States on ESPN2 and across Canada on TSN.

Hobart Readying For National Title Run

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By Warren Kozireski —

Hobart’s men’s hockey team began the 2022-23 season ranked fifth among Division III school in the nation and proceeded to win their first 15 games of the season to quickly rise from there.

Two blemishes—a one-goal loss to at the time 10th ranked Norwich on the road and a 7-5 loss at Elmira has dropped the Statesmen to second-ranked behind Utica as the schedule turned the calendar to February.

And they’ve done it playing a pair of freshman goaltenders in Damon Beaver and Mavrick Gover.

“We have such a deep team and everyone has the same mindset that, if we’re winning games, it doesn’t really matter who is in the lineup,” senior forward Brenden Howell (Hilton) said.

“It starts with our goaltender…but we always practice coming back on the back-check hard and we also forecheck teams super-hard and pin them in their own zone, so we’re good at putting pressure on teams and just being relentless.”

“Last year we had two senior goalies and this year we have three freshmen, so it’s definitely a very different feeling. But our team has such a good mind set and mojo going—we’ve had it all year.”

It’s a different formula for the Statemen with the two youngsters in net, but surround them with five upperclassmen on defense in Gagik Malakyan, Matthieu Wuth, Austin Mourar, Kevin Lassman and Jared Patterson.

“We didn’t draw it up that way…but what we do in front of them (the goaltenders) helps give them some confidence and they give us confidence as well,” assistant coach Tom Fiorentino said.

After rattling off 14 consecutive victories to start this season, the Statesmen fell to then 10th-ranked Norwich 3-1 on the road, but rebounded to win three straight before am uncharacteristic 7-5 hiccup at Elmira. And they have allowed more than two goals in a game just twice through the first 19 games.

“Helps tremendously; those guys are all veterans back there on the back end and have been through it all here…and this year have played just great,” graduate student captain Tyson Zach said.

Hobart has four games remaining in the regular season in February before the three-week NEHC playoffs begin Feb. 18 and the NCAA postseason March 11th.

“The boys know we have a special group this year and we’re a win-first mentality no matter who we’re going up against—everyone is going to come to play every weekend,” Zach said.

(Hobart Hockey Photographs)

Zafuto Finds Hockey Happiness With Pride

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

Maybe someday when Olivia Zafuto’s hockey career is over, she may want to consider going to work for a travel agency. The reason being is because the journey Zafuto took to get to Boston, MA to play pro hockey for the PHF’s Pride is one that would make any travel agent proud.

Her hockey journey began in her hometown of Niagara Falls, NY where she began playing for the Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles organization. From there it was on to nearby Buffalo, where she played for the Nichols School girls prep team.

From there it was on to Hamilton, NY where she attended and played college hockey for four years with Colgate University.

(Zafuto during her days at Colgate)

Following short stops in Buffalo and Minnesota after being drafted by teams in those cities playing in the PWHPA but never playing for either team, it was off to Europe where Zafuto played hockey for two seasons in the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.

With Women’s Pro Hockey growing in the United States and Canada, why Europe?

“It was something I wanted to do,” stated Zafuto, who played for the HV71 and Linkoping HC teams in Sweden. “I loved it.

“I got to travel all over Europe. The hockey over there was great.

“The way the hockey is structured, it was fun. I had teammates that were from around the world.

“I got to meet so many people from so many different cultures. It was incredible.”

Zafuto admitted that the hockey over in Europe was a bit different than what she was used to over here in North America.

“The game is a little faster over here with the smaller ice surfaces,” commented Zafuto, who scored the most points by a Colgate Raider defenseman in program history. “Ice surfaces were a little bigger over in Europe.

“But the styles and the way they played the game is similar to the hockey over here. There was a little more chipping and chasing over there with the bigger sheet of ice.”

In general, what was women’s hockey like over in Europe?

“It is very similar to women’s pro hockey over here,” answered Zafuto, who was named to the ECAC All-Conference team in her senior season of 2018-19. “You’re fighting for a lot of the same stuff.

“It also depends on what team and what city you play for. Some are better than others.

“It’s not bad. They’re getting there. It can be better, though.”

So how and why Boston with the Pride?

(Zafuto in action with the Pride)

“I was debating as to where I was going to play this season,” responded Zafuto. “I talked to a couple of teams in the league.

“I liked the building Boston played in and Boston is a fun city. In the end I thought it would be a great opportunity for me. I decided to go to Boston and still debated about going back overseas for another season.

“In the end I decided on Boston and playing for the Pride.”

One of the first things Zafuto did after signing with the Pride was to circle the dates of December 10 and 11 on her calendar. Those were the dates when the Pride would be travelling to Western New York to play the Buffalo Beauts.

Interestingly, on both days there was a section of seats at the Northtown Center Feature Rink that was filled with a Zafuto cheering section.

“It was incredible,” responded Zafuto, the daughter of Steve and Maria Zafuto. “It was actually humbling.

“It was an honor to play here in front of so many family and friends. I really felt the love coming back in here.”

As a special touch, Zafuto was in the starting lineup for both games and was introduced to the fans on hand by Public Address announcer Ryan Burgess as a native of Niagara Falls, NY.

“That was a nice touch,” commented Zafuto, who also has a brother. “It’s always nice coming home.

“And for me, it was nice winning both games as well for the Pride.”

Having experienced hockey at several different levels, what advice does Zafuto have for upcoming girls/women hockey players?

(Zafuto as a member of the Pride)

“Keep working hard,” concluded Zafuto. “I love coaching younger girls who tell me that they want to play pro hockey someday.

“I think it’s great that they now have something to look forward to and someone to look up to.

“Keep dreaming and keep working hard and do what you can to get to each new level of hockey.

“Women’s hockey is headed in the right direction. There are still things we are fighting for.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re getting there.”

(Photo’s by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

WNYGVIH Recap: Weeks 5 & 6

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By Janet Schultz, NYHOL; Photos by Damian Adams and Janet Schultz

Around WNYGVIH

As has come the motto of the WNYGVIH Federation, anything can happen on any given day and any team can win on any given day. You can’t predict what happens on this league, at least not always.

The New Year has brought about some surprises, new records and lots of excitement. The League has had a major upset breaking a team’s shut-out streak, a winning-streak was broke, several hattricks, volunteer goalies to fill in for the regulars and the usual rescheduled game due to unforeseen circumstances.

Kennedy Ruest Stopping Shots for Niagara County

So let’s begin…

HEWSH and FFLOP opened the New Year with a game at West Seneca. HEWSH took that one 3-2 with Brynn Holland, Meghan Waszkielewicz, Riley Andzel scoring. Ella Buczynski made the saves in the net. For FFLOP Avery McDonald and Maura Langdon scored.

Across town that evening Monsignor Martin dropped a 5-1 to Niagara County. Becca Sander had the lone goal for MM while Niagara County’s goals were spread around. Scoring were Julia Hoffman, Sam Latini, Paige Spatorico, Mara Beiter and Abby Zimmerman. Mariela Mjulready stopped 19 of 20 SOG for the win.

On Tuesday it was LIDA 6-1 over CASH and KENGIL with a 2-0 shutout over HEWSH. 

Sydney Radecki had a hattrick for LIDA and Cayden Kowalow had her first goal of the season. Claire Whiteford also had a goal with Emily Lysiak having the game winner. For CASH it was Fish with an assist from Jenny Wild. 

Over at Lincoln KENGIL continued with their shutout streak by beating HEWS 2-0. Goals scorers were Isabella Jayme and Emiliana Cassillo with Carolyn Bourgeault stopping all 13 SOG.

Jordan Hofschneider with 3 shut-outs this season

Niagara County took on Williamsville in Amherst on Wednesday, January 4 and came away with a 3-2 victory. Scoring were Zimmerman, Natalee Lawrence and Spatorico. Stopping 38 SOG for the win was Kennedy Ruest. Williamsville’s Addison Stachura and Alexandra Hennessy scored.

Thursday’s are a busy time for WNYGVIH with four games. KENGIL shutout Monsignor Martin 4-0; Niagara County beat FFLOP 4-2, HEWSH stopped CASH with a 5-0 shutout and Williamsville beat St. Mary’s of Lancaster 1-0.

Jordan Hofschneider took the win for KENGIL stopping all 13 SOG. Madison Flory, Jayme, Teagan Willats, Cassillio had the goals.

Sam Latini had a hattrick, including two unassisted goals for the   NiCo win  over FFLOP. She ended with a four point night adding in an assist.

Andzel had a hattrick and an assist in the 5-0 HEWSH win over CASH. Waszkielewicz and Phillips  added in the other two goals. Buczynski stopped 16 SOG.

Andzel leads in scoring

Stachura had the game winning goal with an assist from Shannon Pogorzala in the 1-0 Williamsville win over St. Mary’s. Anna Meyer made 13 saves for the shutout.

Things fired up the following week with FFLOP beating St. Mary’s of Lancaster 4-1 on Monday night and HEWSH beating Niagara County 3-2. A close game with Buczynski stopping 15/17 shots for the win and Ruest stopping 17/20 shots for Nico. Phillips, Andzel and Hart scoring for HEWSH and Latini and Mallone adding points for Nico.

On Tuesday, LIDA beat MMAA 5-2, KENGIL beat Williamsville 9-0 and St. Mary’s lost 8-1 to HEWSH.

Radecki with the game winning goal and a hattrick plus one for LIDA. Whiteford added the other goal. Irzycki was the winning goalie. Trinity Kehoe and Reese Honadle scored for MMAA.

KENGIL totally dominated Williamsville with the 9-0 shutout. Williamsville’s goalie, Anna Meyer, was out that night and volunteer goalie Sophia DePrima stepped in. DePrima is a tenth grade forward who stopped 11 of the 20 SOG. For KENGIL Cassillio had four goals, Flory had two, Turnbull, Marzec and I Bourgeault each had one.

DePrima #10 for Williamsville stepped in as a goalie

It was Senior Night at HEWSH on January 10 and they ended that evening with an 8-1 victory over St. Mary’s of Lancaster. Andzel had a hattrick, with Hart dropping in two, and Mruk and Phillips each had one for the victory. In goal Buczynski stopped all but one shot. 

CASH took a victory lap on January 11 with a 4-1 win over Monsignor Martin. Isabella Zivis had the game winning goal and dropped in an additional goal with Sydney Spear and Wild adding to the scoreboard. Melissa MacLeod was the winning goalie, stopping 20 of 21 SOG. Monsignor Martin’s lone goal came from Addison Cherry, assisted by Annemarie Testa and Becca Sander. 

Kenmore’s Isabella Jayme (Photo by Damian Adams)

Williamsville beat FFLOP on January 12 with a 3-2 victory. Stachura had two goals and Scarlet Canna had one with Meyer stopping 20/22 shot. Both of FFLOP’s goals were scored by Maya Griffin. 

KENGIL continued their shut-out streak with a 5-0 win over CASH with Kumrow getting the game-winner. I. Bourgeault, Jayme, Turnbull added goals for the win.

It was another shutout at North Buffalo with HEWSH beating MMAA 5-0. Scoring was passed around with Andzel, Holland, K. Barrett, Waszkielewicz and Drzazgowski getting goals.

` The action continued the next week…

First, the Niagara County vs St. Mary’s game scheduled for January 16 was moved to January 18.

On Tuesday, HEWSH beat LIDA 7-2. Angel, K. Barrett, Andzel, Drzazgowski, H. Barrett and Holland all contributing and Buczynski stopping 20 of 22 shot. For LIDA Buczkowski and Original scored.

KENGIL beat Niagara County 6-2. Maddy Jagow was the first person to score on KENGIL this season ending their shut-out streak. Carolyn Bourgeault gave up her first goal in net after 323:28 minutes of the 508.28 minute shutout streak.

On Wednesday things continued be prove interesting with St. Mary’s beating Niagara County 4-0.  This was the first win in regulation for St.Mary’s and the first win for Goaltender Avery Hall this season. It was also the first shut-out victory for St. Mary’s.

Williamsville beat LIDA 5-2 that same evening. Donnelly had the game-winner on the powerplay.

The week continued to prove surprising when KENGIL lost to HEWSH 3-0. It’s the first loss for KENGIL all season. Andzel had the game winner with Holland and H. Barrett adding to the scoreboard. Buczynski had the shutout win with stopping all 23 SOG.

Buczynski stopping shots

Thursday brought the week to a close with a 9-3 FFLOP victory over St. Mary’s. Emily Patton with the hattrick for FFLOP. The Lancers starting goalie, Avery Hall,  left the game injured and Brooklyn Vitez volunteered to play in the net and finished with 13 saves. Vitez is a ninth grade defender.

Brooklyn Vitez stepped in as a goalie for St. Mary’s (Photo by Damian Adams)

Williamsville took a 4-3 victory from MMAA in overtime in the final game of the week. Martin had a four point night with 2 goals and 2 assists, Donnelly had the game winner in OT and Pogorzala had the other goal. Meyer was in net stopping 16/19. Prendergast, Cherry and Ryann Honadle scored for MMAA.

Andzel leads the scoreboard with 24 goals and 10 assists for 34 points; followed by Sam Latini, Isabella Bourgeault, Sydney Radecki and Madison Flory/Isabella Jayme.

In goal Carolyn Bourgeault has had 7 shut-outs; Ella Buczynski has had 5 and Jordan Hofschneider has had 3. 

KENGIL sits in first place with 36 points but HEWSH is close behind with 35.5. Then its Niagara County, Williamsville, FFLOP, LIDA, CASH, MMAA and St. Mary’s.

On to another week of WNYGVIH play with several senior nights. 

See you at the rink!!

Nichols School Girls Prep Hockey Team Victorious

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

The Nichols School Girls Prep Hockey team defeated the Fort Erie U18AA Falcons, 5-1, Friday night at the Nichols Ice Rink.

Nichols opened the scoring mid-way through the first period, taking a 1-0 lead over the Falcons on a goal by Molly Duffett.

The Vikings opened their lead to 2-0 early in the second period on a goal by Kylie Nolan. They increased their lead to 3-0 less than a minute after scoring their second goal thanks to a goal by Julia Peters.

Late in the same period Nichols upped their lead to 4-0 on a goal by Kiersten Smith.

The Vikings increased their lead to 5-0 early in the third period on a goal by Seina Spadone.

The Falcons finally beat Nichols goalie, Brynn Bacak, late in the third period, when EB McIntosh scored.

With the victory the Vikings increased their League record to 12-5-1.

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Six From NYS On NHL Central Scouting 2023 Midterm Ranking

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By Warren Kozireski —

Six players from New York State—three from the New York metropolitan area, two from Buffalo and one from the North Country—are among the National Hockey League Central Scouting preliminary list for the 2023 NHL Draft to be held June 28-29 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Quinton Musty is a 6’2”, 205 lb. left wing from Hamburg, south of Buffalo. Ranked 11th among North American skaters and a projected first round draft pick, he is playing his second season with Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League after coming out of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres program. He had 12 goals and 48 points over the first 32 games. He tied a program record in December with seven points in one game, was named to the OHL’s second all-rookie team in 2021-22, after registering 31 points in 50 games, and donned the sweater of Team United States in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in August, leading the squad with five points in four contests.

Fellow western New Yorker Gavin McCarthy (Clarence Center) was slotted 39th in the midterm rankings. The 6’1”, 181 lb. defenseman with Muskegon in the USHL where he had 18 points over the first 20 games. He is committed to Boston University in the fall.

Akwesasne native Carey Terrance came in ranked 50th. The 6’1” and 174 lb. center had 16 goals and 24 points in the first 38 games and second season with the Erie Otters in the OHL.

U.S. National Team Development Program defenseman Drew Fortescue, a Boston College commit for 2023, is next ranked 58th. He is a 6’3”, 170 lb. left-shot defensive defenseman with 18 assists over a combined 44 games of the mixed team schedule between the USHL and against college programs.

Northport’s Tanner Adams is a 5’11”, 183 lb. forward skating for Tri-City in the United States Hockey League (USHL). The Providence College commit and Long Island Royals product is ranked 73rd. He had six goals with 15 points in his first 23 games this season with the Storm.

Fortescue’s teammate with the USNDTP, Ryan Fine, is slotted 184th. The 6’0”, 183 lb. forward from Center Moriches had a combined 15 goals and 31 points over his first 46 USHL and USDP games this season. He recently announced his switch from committing to Boston College to Harvard next fall.

In addition, Cornell University has Mount St. Charles Academy forward Chase Pirtle ranked 141st. The 6’2”, 185 lb. right wing has a combined 12 goals and 24 points in 28 games.

As of Jan. 18, the New York Rangers have two first round selections in 2023 after dealing Nils Lundqvist to Dallas for a conditional (non-top ten) pick while the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres each still own their own picks.