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KenGiPort Heads to NYS Championship

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2024 Far West Champs KenGiPort

Photos and Story by Janet Schultz, NYHOL

WNYGVIH Federation’s Kenmore/Grand Island/Lockport is headed to the New York State Tournament for the fifth time in 14 years after defeating Webster 4-3 in Overtime at Buffalo State College’s Ice Arena Wednesday night.

The team first went as Kenmore in the Leagues first year of eligibility, 2013. They lost to a very strong Beekmantown in the first round. The following year they won the Section VI title again and then lost in the semi-finals at the States. In 2015 and 2016 they again took the Section VI title and ended second in the State. However they returned in 2021-22 as KenGi, with Grand Island joining them, and they headed to the States again representing Section VI. It ended in the semi-finals, as it did last year as KenGiPort, with the addition of Lockport High School. There was no State Tournament in 2021 due to Covid, but that year it was Williamsville  who took the Section VI title.

WNYGVIH has had two NYS Champions…FLOP took the title in 2018 and Williamsville in 2019.

This year was a little different. With the addition of Webster to Section V, and the only school to do so, the NYSPHSAA added a Far West Regional pitting our Section VI champion with Webster to determine who would go to the States. KengiPort took on Webster on Valentine’s Day at Buffalo State College’s Arena.

Webster played several WNYGVIH teams earlier this season and came away with a 2-4-1 record, losing to KenGiPort 7-0.

KenGiPort opened the scoring in the first period off the stick of Izzy Bourgeault, assisted by Bella Jayme. Webster answered back with a little over 6 minutes remaining when Madison Olsen scored, assisted by Kenzie Beale and Molly Meyer. The first ends tied at 1-1.

Webster starts the scoring in the second on a goal scored by Molly Meyer, assisted by Maddie Meyer. Not letting it end there, KenGiPort’s Bourgeault strikes again on the powerplay, assisted by Willats and we end the second period in a 2-2 tie.

A theme is developing as the third period ends in a 3-3 tie after goals by KenGiPort’s Bourgeault, assisted by Jayme and Webster’s Molly Meyer, assisted by Olsen and Beale. It’s overtime, as it was in the WNY Sectionals on Monday.

A tight battle but in the end Bourgeault gets a hattrick and gives KenGiPort their win and a trip back to the States. Goaltending was a key again with KenGiPort’s Samantha Horne stopping 13 of 16 and Webster’s Maddie Strelick stopping 28 of 32.

It was also an emotional game for several Webster players. It was their first and last season of high school hockey. Graduating after being a pioneer in Section V Girl’s Varsity Ice Hockey are Goaltender Maddie Strelick (Webster Thomas); Forward Nina Obi (Schroeder); Defender Liv Lucania (Schroeder) and Forward/Defender Meg Springer (Webster Thomas). We wish them well!

The State Tournament opens Friday at 4 p.m. with Section III Skaneateles facing Section II Adirondack (ADK) United. Skaneateles is no stranger to the States and has given WNYGVIH teams a run. Skaneateles also has several Championships under their belt. ADK is in their second year of play and went undefeated, including a 6-0 win over Skaneateles.

KenGiPort Captains Jayme, Horne, Marzec, Bourgeault

KenGiPort faces Canton at 6 p.m. Friday. Canton went 6-1-1 on the season. Canton beat Malone 3-1 for the Section X Championship. 

This is an all-digital ticketed event on the GoFan platform. Please present your interactive mobile ticket at the entrance. Screenshots and printed tickets will not be accepted, and cash sales are not available. For more information on ticketing policies and procedures, visit our Ticketing FAQ page or contact [email protected]. Tickets are $11.50 (includes all fees).

Photo Gallery by Janet Schultz© All rights belong to NYHOL. No photograph may be used without permission of NYHOL

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2 Cousins To Face Each Other In Section VI WNYGVIHF Championship Game

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

On Monday, Feb. 12 KenGIPort plays Niagara County for the Section VI WNYGVIHF championship. For two players, one from each team, it is more than just a championship game.

A little less than two weeks ago two cousins, playing on two different girls high school hockey teams, faced each other for the first time in on-ice competition.

On one side was Maddie Martin, a seventh grader in the Edward Town Middle School (Niagara Wheatfield School system) and a forward for the Niagara County Warriors. On the other was Teagan Willats, a tenth grader at Grand Island High School and a forward for the Kenmore/Grand Island/Lockport (or better known as KenGIPort) girl’s hockey team.

Each of the players had interesting thoughts before they faced each other.

“I think it’s nice to see her on the ice because she has been like a role model for me growing up,” said Maddie regarding her cousin, Teagan. “She’s played hockey for awhile too.

“It’s nice to have another girl in the family who plays hockey as well.”

Maddie has been playing hockey since the age of three.

“I love the game a lot,” continued Maddie, the daughter of Alyssa Collins and Robert Martin. “It’s a game that makes me feel happy.”

Maddie also plays travel hockey for the Wheatfield Blades. She also plays softball, flag football and will be trying lacrosse for the first time this year.

The seventh grader plays on the girl’s high school hockey team that has players that are a year to five years older than her.

“It’s nice and it helps me improve my game,” stated Maddie. “But they are also like role models to me.

“They treat me well and make me always feel a part of the team.”

Teagan, who is three years older than her younger cousin, likes the idea of playing against Maddie.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” remarked Teagan. “I’ve never gotten the opportunity to play against somebody related to me before.

“Most of them who play hockey are boys. But I’m glad to see the younger girls playing hockey and that girls hockey is growing.”

Interestingly, it was one of Teagan’s older male cousins that gave her the idea of playing hockey. But it is another female in her life that has been her inspiration.

“I try to be like my mom,” continued Teagan, the daughter of Brian and Jen Willats. “She’s my inspiration.

“She was a softball player and a real good athlete. I look up to her.”

On her KenGIPort team, Teagan has players younger and older than her.

“I think of myself as a leader on the team,” said Teagan, who also plays volleyball and lacrosse. “I started playing on the high school team when I was in seventh grade.

“This is my fourth year on team. Being on the team for so many years I try and lead by example.”

Hockey is a big part of Teagan’s life.

“It gives me something to look forward to,” commented Teagan. “And I think I’ve grown as a person because of it.”

Now, less than two weeks after facing each other for the first time in girl’s high school hockey, the two cousins will face each other again.

This time it will be for the Section VI girl’s varsity high school ice hockey championship: Niagara County vs. KenGIPort on Monday, Feb. 12.

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Oriskany’s Murphy On Fire For Nationally Ranked Utica College

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By Warren Kozireski —

Not sure what Utica College junior forward Shane Murphy has been having for breakfast lately, but as is true with any good streak, he should not change a thing.

He entered the final weekend in January with ten points in 17 games and, four games later, more than doubled that total with 11 points in four games. Included was his first collegiate hat trick and four-point game against Nazareth on January 26th.

“I’m just trying to make plays,” Murphy said. “Some days you can find a way to get it to the net and sometimes guys are open, and they can find it for you, so just the way it goes.

“I thought our line was creating opportunities and capitalizing on what we’re doing. Trying to slow it down sometimes has been a struggle for me and focusing on that.”

Murphy stands tied for second for the second ranked Pioneers in points with 21 and second in assists with 15 setting career highs in both over the first 21 games this season.

“Being an older guy on the team helps; it comes with the guys that I watched play before me and I kind of pick up on things and try to see what works. Watching that day in and day out and playing with those guys really helped my game, so just learning from what I see.”

The 5’11”, 181 lb. 23-year-old started with the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Knights in 2015-16 before spending the next season with the Buffalo Regals. The next two campaigns were with Trinity Pawling High before he returned to the NAHL with Wilkes Barre/Scranton in 2019-20 and Danbury for their inaugural season in 2020-21.

“I moved away from home when I was 15 to go to Wilkes and then I was contacted by Kyle Quick from the Buffalo Regals, and it just seemed like the right place to go at the time. We played against a lot of really good teams, so the exposure (college scouts) was always great and that’s what I was looking for.

“I loved it in Danbury too to help build that program up and just keep progressing.”

And then he was able to return to virtually his backyard to advance his career at the college level.

“I wouldn’t say that it was always my plan (to play at Utica), but when I got the opportunity, I definitely wasn’t going to pass it up. It’s close to home and a great place to play; probably one of the best in D3 if not the best, so I’m glad I came here.

“I have a lot of family that can come and watch me at all the home games, and I even had some family here (at Nazareth), so it’s great.”

Murphy recently changed his major from Sports Management to Business Management looking ahead even though it is another season-plus away.

“Just to keep things a little more broad, I just feel like if I can get into the sports industry, it would be great, but I want to have the opportunity to have other doors open as well.”

Utica again is knocking on the door of their first national championship having advanced to the NCAA tournament in each of the last three seasons and four times in program history (2013, 2020, 2022, and 2023), so Murphy is on securing at least one ring before he has to worry about what is next.

(Photos provided by Utica College Athletic and Hockey Departments)

KenGiPort Faces NICO in WNYGVIH Championship

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St Mary’s of Lancaster faces Monsignor Martin in Private School Championship

KengiPort will faceoff against NICO in the 14th WNYGVIH Federation Section VI Championship on Monday, February 12 at Buffalo State College’s Ice Arena. The puck drops at 8 p.m. for the matchup. The first game will be the WNYGVIH Private School Championship at 6 p.m, with St. Mary’s facing Monsignor Martin.

A little over two minutes into the Semi-final matchup of LIDA and NICO, NICO’s Sam Latini scores the first of her three goals to move NICO ahead. Her second goal game with a little more than four minutes left in the first; but LIDA answered with 1:58 left on an unassisted goal by Brynn Cafferty. The first period ends 2-1 NICO. NICO’s assists came from O’Connor and Zimmerman on the first and second goals It was NICO all the way in the second with another goal by Latini on the powerplay and giving her a hattrick. Another assist from Zimmerman, who then drops in the final NICO goal, unassisted. Zimmerman had her stick on each goal scored in the game. Second period ends 4-1 NICO. LIDA gets on the board first in the third off the stick of Cafferty, her second of the night; assisted by Leah Dowling and that is the final goal of the game. Kennedy Ruest takes the win h stopping 22 of 24 shots on goal and Carly Irzycki stopped 17 of 21.

Up next HHEWS took on KengiPort. It was a scoreless first period but KenGiPort came back out on the ice after the resurfacing and Isabella Jayme scores, assisted by Savanna Shaft. HHEWS answers back when Sophia Phillips gets help from Meghan Waszkielewicz. Savannah Samplinski scores another for KGP, assisted by Jayme and second period ends 2-1 KenGiPort. Jayme seals the win for KenGiPort, assisted by Natalie Kopf early in the third period. Jayme joined NICO’s Zimmerman by having her stick on every goal scored for KenGiPort. Samantha Horne stopped 15 of 16 for KGIP for the “W” and Ella Buczynski kept 20 of 23 out of the net for HHEWS.

A reminder that there is a admission charge for the Championship games.

Around the State…we jumped the gun on the Beekmantown announcement, They had to play in a Play-In game versus Adirondack United and lost 9-1 so Adirondack heads to the State Championship, as well as Skaneateles. There are still some playoffs in the State, one being Canton taking on Malone (as far as I can see by North Country SportsNet) this Saturday.

FYI: Adirondack United is in Section II and made up of Corinth, Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga and South Glens Falls High Schools. 

The winner of our NICO vs KenGiPort game will have a Play-in versus Webster of Section V to determine who moves on the NYS Tournament. That game will be played Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. at Buffalo State College’s Ice Arena.

South Glens Falls’ Thomas Nostalgic Heading Into Final Months

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By Warren Kozireski —

It happens to every player competing at a competitive level in every sport. No matter how far they advance, eventually the end comes into view and Geneseo senior forward Jared Thomas is no different.

“We’ll see, but probably going to have to hang them up and get into the real world,” Thomas said in late January. “I’m excited for what’s to come, but definitely not ready to hang them up, but it’s inevitable, I guess.

“Trying honestly not to think about it—I think all of our senior class is trying not to think about it—and just go day by day and enjoy every day that we have together and being on the ice here.”

The 6’0” 185lb. center did not leave the Capital District as early as many college hockey players. He played high school hockey for the Tri-Falls Rivermen (now Adirondack) from his eighth-grade season through his junior year and his senior year in the area with CP Dynamo in the USPHL where he put up 30 points in 21 games.

“Pretty unique (playing high school hockey that long). Where I lived it’s not a great hockey market and I could have gone to a couple of prep schools and decided to stay home…and it worked out thank goodness.

“(Clifton Park) was fairly new, but we had some success and probably the best program we have in the area.”

That got the attention of the Boston Jr. Bandits in the NCDC where he again registered solid offensive numbers over two campaigns with 27 goals and 83 points over a combined 96 games.

Then he arrived in Geneseo as a freshman just in time for the cancelled pandemic season before playing just seven games in his second year as a Knight.

“I think it’s been going really well; I think the team is all bought in, and I think we have a chance to make a real run,” Thomas said. “I think I’m playing a good role on the team. I’m not exactly putting up the points but trying my best to help the team win.”

Thomas had matched his ten-point output from last season in just 20 games while playing a fourth line center role many nights.

“We roll all four (lines), so I get to be out there a lot, so it’s nice.

“Being in state tuition was definitely a factor; the hockey is an unbelievable program year-after-year always putting out a good product on the ice and on top of that especially is the academics. Coming out of Geneseo with a degree is looked at as a pretty high-end thing, so that was a big part of my decision as well.”

Next Thomas thinks he may use his summer 2023 internship in sales to launch a commission-based career that will also allow him to continue his other love—golf.

“Communications major and I worked in sales over the summer, so I’ll probably stay in that field. I really enjoyed it; commission based so you eat what you kill. I like that part of it…keeps you motivated.

“I definitely play a lot of golf, so that gets expensive. But that’s not going to stop. Business meetings on the golf course.”

(Photos provided by Geneseo Athletic Dept. and Geneseo Hockey Team)

KenGiPort, HHEWS and LIDA Move On in WNYGVIH

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A very exciting Tuesday night at the Buffalo State College Ice Arena and three teams come away to play in the Semi-Finals of the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation Section VI Championship.

Number two seed KenGIPort posted a 8-1 victory over #9 seed Williamsville. KGIP’s Ava Pasceri dropped in the first goal of the night and it stayed 1-0 KenGiPort until the second period. KenGiPort then dropped in three more goals by Izzy Bourgeault, Madelyn Jagow and  Madeline Marzec before late in the second Williamsville’s Allison Besancon scored the only goal for Williamsville. In the third it was KenGIPort all the way with two goals by Bourgeault for her hattrick; one by Jagow and the final by Alyse Alberalla. Samantha Horne stopped all eight shots by Williamsville for the “W.”  Williamsville’s Olivia Lookman stopped 32 of 40 shots. Assists for KenGiPort Tuesday night were by Juliet Chadima, Isabella Burt, Isabella Shaft, Isabella Jayme, Savannah Shaft, Natalie Kopf and Jagow. For Williamsville it was Addison Stachura. KenGiPort moves on to the Semi-finals.

Game two had CASH facing off against HHEWS with HHEWS taking a 3-0 shutout win. Goaltender Ella Bucznski gets the shutout with 12 saves. Scoring for HHEWS were Liliann Drzazgowski, assisted by Meghan Waszkielewicz and Kylie Wegrzynowski; the game-winner in the first period. Sophia Phillips opened the scoring in the second period, assisted by Kelsey Barrett and the second ends 2-0 HHEWS. Brynn Holland scored the final goal of the night, assisted by Waskielewicz and Hailey Cooper. CASH’s Ella Celej faced 22 shots.  HHEWS moves on to the semi-finals.


Although the scoreboard didn’t show it, the third game of the night, LIDA vs FFLOP, had a lot of action up and down the ice. LIDA gets on the board just over two minutes into the game when Brynn Cafferty scores, assisted by Leah Dowling and Emily Rodriguez. That proves to be the only goal of the night and LIDA moves on to the semi-finals. LIDA Goalie Cary Irzycki stopped 35 shots for the shut-out win. In goal for FFLOP Kerrigan McCarthy stopped 12 of 13, in that is her final game in the WNYGVIH Federation.

The Semi-Final match will be held Thursday night at the Buffalo State College Ice Arena. The Niagara County Lady Warriors will take on LIDA at 4:30 p.m. and KenGiPort will face HHEWS at 6:30 p.m. The winners of those matches will face-off in the Championships on Monday, February 12 at 8 p.m. at Buffalo State College. These games are open free of charge. They will also be streamed by the NFHS Network with broadcasting by WNY Athletics including Randy Schultz of NYHOL as the color commentator. For streaming go to: nfhsnetwork.com.

Prior to that game the Private School Championship will begin at 6 p.m. with St. Mary’s of Lancaster facing off against Monsignor Martin.

In other area news the Oswego Lady Lakers will take on Skaneateles for the Section III Championship Wednesday night (Feb. 7), the winner of that game goes to the NYSPHAA State Tournament (NYS Championship). In Section I the Rockland Rockies Girls Varsity team has advanced to their Sectional finals after defeating the East Green Wave. They will be facing the North Avalanche. Beekmantown has won the Section VII Title and will head to the States. Potsdam will take on top-seeded Canton the Section X semi-finals tonight (Wednesday, Feb 7)

WNYGVIH–It’s a Regular Season Wrap!

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By Janet Schultz, NYHOL; Photos by Janet©

The final week of the WNYGVIH Federation came down to an exciting one, as usual. Each game meant something to one of the teams in the way the standings would shake out. So here’s how it ends and where we go this week.

NICO finished in first in both Sectional/League play with a 13 win-1 loss-0 tie-0 OTW-2 OTL record and 41 points. They will get a bye Tuesday night.

KenGiPort ends in 2nd place with a 12-2-0-1-0 record and 38 points to face off against #7/9 Williamsville (3-13=9 pts) at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Buffalo State College.

Seed #3 goes to HHEWS (10-4-1-0-1=32.5 pts) and they faceoff at 6 p.m. against #6/8 CASH (3-11-2-0-0=12 pts.)

Finally at #4 FFLOP (8-5-0-3-0=30 pts) takes on #5/6 LIDA (6-9-1-0-0=19.5 pts.) at 8 p.m.

St. Mary’s of Lancaster finished fifth in League play and Monsignor Martin finished seventh. They are not counted in the Sectional play and will only have to play their Private School Championship Game on Monday, February 12 at 6 p.m. at Buffalo State College’s Arena. St. Mary’s finished 6-8-2 and 21 points and MonMar finished with a 4-11-0-0-1 and 13 points.

Section VI Semifinals will be held Thursday, February 8 at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. with NICO facing off against the 4th seed and the 2nd and 3rd seeds following. The winners of these match-ups go on to the Section VI Championship on Monday, February 12, also at Buffalo State College.

One addition this year is that Webster will faceoff against the Section VI Champion for the NYSPHSAA State Tournament. That play-off will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 14 at Buffalo State College.

The State Tournament will be held at the Nexus Center in Utica February 16 and 17.

This final week started with NICO celebrating their Senior Night with a game against FFLOP at Dwyer Arena. It was a 4-3 overtime win for FFLOP. FFLOP opened the scoring in the first with a goal by Griffin, she would then add two more that night giving her not only a hattrick but she had the game-winner in over-time. FFLOP was ahead at the end of the second with a 2-1 score when Zimmerman tied it for NICO. Latini added another but FFLOP’s P. Forcucci answered back and we go into overtime. McCarthy stopped 17 of 20 for the W and Ruest stopped 22/26 for NICO. FFLOP is 3-3 in overtime wins.

St. Mary’s visited CASH and they put history in the record books by playing to a Double shutout  tie in overtime. Zero Zero was the score, the first one for this League. Celej stopped 28 of 28 shots and Accurso stopped 21 of 21.

KenGiPort headed to HHEWS and comes away with a 4-2 victory. Scoring for KenGiPort was Jayme, Burt, Alberalla (GWG) and Bourgeault. Horne stopped 13/15 for the win. Jayme and Bourgeault moved up the ladder in the All Time Scoring Records with Jayme at 12th with 104 points and Bourgeault at 13th with104 pts after this game. For HHEWS it was Reiford and Phillips scoring with Bucznski stopping 11/15 and Rakoski stopping 5/5. This game moved Kengiport to second place overall.

LIDA beat Monsignor Martin 3-1 with scoring from Lysiak with two and Muff with the Game-winner. Monsignor Martin’s Murphy put in the lone goal for MonMar. Schimenti stopped 17 of 18 for LIDA and Kelley stopped 28 of 31 for MonMar.

KenGiPort looking to secure second took a 1-0 victory over NICO on Tuesday. It looked like the League may have been heading for their second double overtime tie but Bella Jayme dropped in the game winner in overtime and it was 1-0 for KenGiPort. Horne made 17 saves for the shutout win and Ruest stopped 20/21. 

Even with the overtime win for KGI, NICO secured their Sectional Championship.

At Holiday Twin it was Williamsville taking a 4-2 win over LIDA. Lombardo scored on the powerplay for Williamsville opening scoring for the team and was followed by Besancon, Wolf (GWG) and Canna. Lookman stopped 40/42 for the W. LIDA’s Miller and Cafferty scored with Schimenti stopping 20/24.

Webster paid a visit to FFLOP over at Brighton Arena and it was FFLOP coming out on top in this non-league game. FFLOP’s scorers including Patton, 2 goals including the game-winner; Sojda, 2 goals including an empty-netter; P. Forcucci. Fix was in for 10 minutes topping none of the three shots; Keaton went in for 35 minutes and stopped 13/13 for the W. For Webster it was Blakley, Nappi and Cullen with Strelick topping 21/15.

Williamsville comes away with their second win of the week, this one 4-3 over Monsignor Martin. Williamsville’s Besancon had two goals including the game-winner and Wolf had two goals for the win. Lookman stopped 24/27. Reese Honadle scored all three of MonMar’s goals giving her a hattrick. Kelley stopped 16/20.

CASH celebrated their Senior Night on Wednesday but it ended with a 3-0 win for visiting KenGiPort. Jayme scored two goals in the first period, Bourgeault with one in the first and KenGiPort takes a 3-0 lead that lasts until the third period when Jayme puts in another for a hattrick and the shutout win. Horne made 15 saves for her SO Win. Celej stopped 21/15 for CASH.

Later that evening St. Mary’s celebrated their Senior Night but once again the home team losses. This time FFLOP took a 4-1 victory with Patton, Sojda and Griffin scoring. Sojda had the game-winner and Griffin had two power-play goals. McCarthy stopped 18/19 for the W. Gall scored on her Senior Celebration Night for St. Mary’s and Hall stopped 32/36.

NICO was at HHEWS and game away with a 6-0 shutout win. Ruest made 17 saves for the SO W and the scoring came from Lawrence, Zimmerman and Mansfield for NICO. Mansfield with a hattrick. For HHEWS it was Buczynski stopping 8/12 with her 20:43 minutes in goal and Rakoski stopping 9/11 with 24:17 minutes between the pipes.

The last night of regular season play, Thursday, Feb. 1, and it was Senior Night at Williamsville with a game against CASH. Both teams calling Northtowns their home ice so it was Home for Williamsville. Another game heading to 0-0 but in the third period Adimey scores for CASH followed by Wild and they are up 2-0 but Williamsville’s Canna drops one in and it ends 2-1 CASH> Celej stopping 15 of 16 and Lookman stopping 27/29.

FFLOP took the ice ten minutes later at North Buffalo against MonMar and the League’s regular season is finally in the books when MonMar takes a 3-1 victory. FFLOP scores first with Griffin on the powerplay and the score remains 1-0 FFLOP until the third when Franke gets a hattrick, two unassisted and the other assisted by Franke and Cherry. Kelley stops 18/19 for the W and Fix stops 17/20.

We congratulate this week’s Seniors from NICO: Faith O’Connor, Marina Mansfield, Madison Mallone, Frankie Williamson and Julia Hoffman.

CASH: Sara Ablove

St. Marys: Reese Gall

Williamsville: Shannon Pogorzala

LIDA didn’t get their Senior Recognition Night in so we congratulate Amelia Homac and Carly Irzycki.

Also congratulations to Webster’s Seniors who just had the opportunity to play one season of Varsity Ice Hockey: Madison Strelick, their goalie from Thomas; Olivia Lucania, defense from Schroeder and Megan Springer, forward and defensive player from Thomas.

On to the Playoffs!

Rick Hopkins: A WNYGVIHF “Founding Father”

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

The Western New York Girl’s Varsity Ice Hockey Federation are in their 14th year of existence. One individual who has been a part of the girl’s ice hockey federation for the entire time has been Rick Hopkins, head coach of the Williamsville Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Team.

Actually, Hopkins was a part of the creation of the league long before the official first official faceoff took place in 2010. Hopkins was actually a part of the league when it was nothing more than an idea.

“It’s not hard to believe that the league is still thriving, which I knew it would be from day one,” stated Hopkins,” chairman of the WNYGVIHF. “But it is amazing that almost a decade and one-half has passed since the puck first dropped in 2010.

“It’s gone by so quickly.”

In reality, the WNYGVIHF took almost five years of meetings and planning before that first puck dropped.

“It was thanks to the efforts of the late Dr. James Rusin (then the Director of Athletics for the Williamsville School District), who really got the ball rolling,” remembered Hopkins. “I had been coaching girls travel hockey with my daughter and had travelled to Ithaca and saw their girls program.

“I got inspired by seeing that and came back to Dr. Rosin with the idea.”

It was Dr. Rusin, along with Hopkins, who was a Williamsville Physical Education instructor at the time, who organized a group of volunteer parents to get the process started.

“That was nearly five years before the league began play,” continued Hopkins. “There were many organizational meetings with interested parents from other school districts.

“But we stayed with it. Dr. Rusin got all the signatures on all the documents that were needed and I remember the day he called me and simply said, ‘It’s a go.’

“That’s when I knew it was. We had a couple of false starts a year before we actually began and even two years before.”

Hopkins also remembered that first official game.

20-21 Champs Capts with Coach Rick Hopkins

“That arena we played in that day was pretty close to being packed when Williamsville played Monsignor Martin in that very first game. The enthusiasm that carried over from that five-year push was there.

“Unfortunately there were some who helped the cause who didn’t reap the benefits. There were girls who never got the chance to play in a league game that had graduated and there were parents of those girls who had helped the cause.

“But I knew that with five years of momentum, the league was going to carry through and happen.”

There was one piece of advice that carried through that five years of planning and that was to not begin as club teams.

“It was great advice,” remarked Hopkins, now a retired physical education teacher, who substitutes in the Williamsville School System. “It was felt that some administrators at the time would say that you’re thriving as a club program, it’s not costing the school anything, so let’s just keep it a club program.

“I knew going the club route would be some school districts easy way out. I also knew that the high school boys ice hockey federation was thriving.

“There were people who thought that boys high school hockey wouldn’t last, but it did.

“Plus, we knew that hockey would not be a hard sell in Western New York. Plus, there were people who questioned the skill level of girl’s hockey.

“And Dr. Rusin’s response was, ‘ask somebody how many years have they played the trumpet when they try out for the school’s band.’”

One of the more satisfying moments that has come out of the WNYGVIHF is watching the girls who graduate from high school and ice hockey go on to college and continue playing the game.

“All of our coaches have had the opportunity to watch some of their former players come back playing college hockey,” said Hopkins. “And now even some of our former players are giving back to the game, coming back here was assistant coaches at the high school or college levels or even come back as head coaches.”

Hopkins also talked about the middle school aspect of the WNYGVIHF.

“In some cases we get to coach these girls from the time they enter seventh grade,” stated Hopkins. “By the time they get to be seniors the coaches know them pretty well.

“You get to watch them grow up. You get to watch them become leaders on a team and to take younger players under their wing.”

After 14 years Hopkins must have some memorable memories.

“I think seeing Dr. Rusin out there on the ice at the Northtown Center dropping that ceremonial first puck was a moment I’ll never forget,” recalled Hopkins. “That was such a great thrill and victory after five years of work and planning.

“There were the crowds that showed up for the playoff games. There was 2019 when the Williamsville won its first sectional title in overtime.

“I love watching the other teams play. A lot of memories.

Hopkins admits that being in year 14 of the league is very satisfying to him.

“It’s more important to me than any individual wins,” stated Hopkins. “Especially when we were told for five years that this wasn’t going to happen.

“The thing I’m the proudest of is year 14. That is the legacy that will live on.

“The League is here and it isn’t going anywhere.”

But Hopkins does have some moments that stick out in his mind.

“Winning the State Championship with Williamsville in 2019 in Buffalo was a thrill,” remembered the Williamsville head coach. “Going to Lake Placid the next year and coaching our team in the same building that held the ‘Miracle On Ice’ in 1980 was great.

“Watching the FLOP team win the State championship was memorable and all the success the KenGiPort team has had over the years.

“We’ve had wonderful coaches over the years, as well as outstanding players, too many to mention. For me, it’s been great to be a part of the success we have all shared with this girls high school hockey league.”

What does Hopkins see in the future for girl’s hockey in Western New York?

“I see girl’s hockey growing in Section V (the Rochester area),” answered Hopkins. “Outside of Buffalo, that area has the second most girls registered with USA Hockey.

“Here in Western New York, there are still some school districts that want to get in but don’t have the numbers right now. The girls game is going to continue growing in Western New York.

“My crystal ball shows that we’re here to stay.”

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Senior Nights, 100 Point Milestone, Five-Point Night, Shutouts top Week 6 of WNYGVIH Play!

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By Janet Schultz, NYHOL

After losing a week’s worth of games due to weather, it was a very busy week making up games,  playing regularly scheduled games and conducting senior nights. Rescheduling was hard but our Coaches did it by thinking creatively. Thank you to them for their hard work.

The news as we head into week 7 is that mathematically anything can happen to the standings. I learned about “mathematically” because everyone the Buffalo Bills or Sabres get into trouble someone says “mathematically” they can still make it.

So thanks to our statistician Matt Miller, we know that NICO is in the lead, and solidly; but depending on who plays who, who wins, who loses and who ties, things could change.

HHEWS and KenGiPort are neck and neck for second so if someone beats NICO one of them could challenge for the top spot. FFLOP needs a win to close the gap with KenGiPort. LIDA could catch St. Mary’s of Lancaster. CASH and Williamsville could jump to sixth. So it’s all up-in-the air once again in the WNYGVIH as it is every season prior. Monsignor Martin is solid in their spot as they will be the “away” team for the first time ever as St. Mary’s of Lancaster top them and will be the “home” team in the Private School Championship.

Now here’s how this past week ended.

NYHOL headed to the CASH at LIDA game on Monday at Cornerstone. Felt good to be out of the house and into a hockey arena, one close to home. This game was rescheduled from January 9. LIDA beat CASH in a 2-0 shutout with Irzycki stopping 21 shots on goal for the win. Scoring were Hauser with the game-winner and Miller. CASH’s Celej stopped 32 of 34 shots on goal.

St. Mary’s upended Monsignor Martin 4-0 in what might look like the Private School Championship in a couple weeks. Accurso stopped all 13 shots for the win. Putting St. Mary’s on the scoreboard were Szczerek with two, Pagano and Donnelly. Monsignor Martin’s Kelley faced 33 shots and stopped 29.

HHEWS beat Williamsville but not without a close one. It was 3-2 at the end with M. Cooper scoring an unassisted goal for HHEWS followed by Reiford and Hodil with the game-winner. In goal Rakoski stopped 11 of 13 for the win. For Williamsville it was Meyer and Besancon, both with unassisted goals and Lookman stopping 23 of 26 shots.

It was Senior Night on Tuesday for KenGiPort and they took the win. It was 3-1 over St. Mary’s with goals for KenGiPort coming from Shaft, Jayme (GWG) and Bourgeault. Horne stopped 15 of 16 sog. St Mary’s Gall scored the lone goal for St. Mary’s while Hall stopped 25 of 27 sog.

Not only did KenGiPort celebrate Senior Night but Jayme and Bourgeault had their 100th career point night with Jayme doing it on an assist on the first goal and then she jumped to 101 with the game-winner in the second period. Bourgeault his 99 with an assist but then had the empty net goal in the third for her 100th. Congratulations to Isabella and Isabelle.

Webster paid a visit to Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena to play CASH in a non-league game. They took home their first win ever in a 1-0 victory. Scoring was Sami Cullen, assisted by Ella Buss. In goal Madison Strelick made history by stopping 14 shots for the first win, a shutout. Celej stopped 33 of 34 for CASH.

NICO lost 3-2 to LIDA with Sinclair, Lysiak and Muff scoring for LIDA; Muff with the game-winner. For NICO is was Zimmerman and Mainstone. Irzycki took the win after topping 27 shots and Ruest stopped 17 of 20 for NICO. This was NICO’s first loss.

FFLOP beat Williamsville 6-2. FFLOP’s scoring came from Patton (2), Lestingi, Dalton (2), Patton and Griffin. The FFLOP Goalies split the evening with Fix in for 30 minutes garnering the sin stopping all 5 shots and Keaton played 15 minutes stopping 2 of 4. Both Williamsville’s goals came from Stachura and Lookman stopping 23 of 29.

NICO was back on the ice Wednesday night as they played Williamsville at Cornerstone arena (a home game for Williamsville due to rescheduling). NICO’s Sam Latini had a three-point night on two goals and an assist; Mansfield had a goal and assist; Lawrence had a goal and assist; Zimmerman had a goal. Guest sopped 17 of 18 for the win. For Williamsville it was Besancon with the goal, assisted by Stachura. Lookman stopped 27/32 sog.

CASH headed to Monsignor Martin and beat them 4-2 with DeSantis scoring two goals; Stremiakova with the game winner and a goal by Wild to secure the win. Celej stopped 18/20. For MonMar it was goals by Sander and Franke and Kelley in goal stopping 32 of 36.

On Thursday FFLOP celebrated Senior Night and took a 5-2 loss to NICO. Zimmerman had a hand in every goal scored assisting on three, scoring two, including the game-winner,  for a 5-Point night. Latini came up with two goals and Mansfield scored the game-winner. Ruest was in goal stopping 30 of 32 sog. For FFLOP it was Seniors Patton and Draszkiewicz scoring and McCarthy stopping 27/32.

A busy Thursday night with KenGiPort at Monsignor Martin and MonMar’s Senior Night. KengiPort took the 4-3 victory with Burt, Pasceri, Bourgeault and Alberalla scoring. Horne in the net stopping 8 of 11 for the win. All three Mon Mar goals came from the skillful hands of Senior Alex Franke and gave her the hattrick. Kelley stopped 32 of 36.

Williamsville traveled down the I90 for a game against Webster and Webster wins their second game 4-1. This was also Webster’s Senior Night and we congratulate Madison Strelick, Nina Oki and Olivia Lucanio on their graduation and thank them for playing in the Inaugural Season of the team. Webster’s 4 goals came from Meyer, Blakley with the game-winner, Buss and Cresicimanni, an unassisted goal. Goaltender Strelick stopped 13/14 for the win. Williamsville’s lone goal was scored by Besancon, unassisted. Lookman stopped 22 of 26.

Senior Night at HHEWS with them taking a 3-0 shutout over LIDA. Scoring were Reiford, Phillips on the powerplay, and Holland with Buczczynski stopping all 17 shots. LIDA’s Irzycki stopped 14 of 17. Ella Buczczynski has five shutouts this season, the Best in the League.

In a rare Friday night game, due to rescheduling, we conclude the week with a 1-1 overtime tie between CASH and LIDA. CASH’s Wild scored on the power play, assisted by Stremiakova and Dowling scored for LIDA, assisted by Lawrence. Goalies Celej for CASH stopped 28 of 29 and Irzycki stopped 26/27 for LIDA.

The upcoming week will find MonMar at LIDA, CASH at St. Mary’s, HHEWS at KenGiPort and FFLOP at NICO on Monday. On Tuesday it will be Williamsville at LIDA KenGiPort at NICO (Dwyer Arena) and Webster at FFLOP (Brighton Arena).

Four on tap for Wednesday with Williamsville at Mon Mar, NICO at HHEWS, KenGiPort at CASH and FFLOP at St. Mary’s.

Thursday night the WNYGVIH Federation will close out regular season play with FFLOP at Mon Mar and CASH at Williamsville.

Section VI Quarterfinals will be played February 6 and Semifinals February 8, all games at Buffalo  StateCollege.

DeWitt’s Kirwan Major Cog For Nittany Lions

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By Warren Kozireski —

In late January, DeWitt native Ryan Kirwan stood tied for first in the Big Ten Conference in shots on goal, tied for second in game-winning goals and ninth in goals as he played on left wing for Penn State’s second line.

His 12 goals through 25 games put him among the top 50 in Division I in the nation.

“It’s been good; playing with good linemates and we have a great team here, so things are going well,” Kirwan said after the Michigan State weekend.

“This year establishing some good chemistry with (fellow New Yorker) Danny (Dzhaniyev)…so having the help of those two guys working hard and playing off each other.

“We’ve known each other for a while just through skate camps and stuff in New York State and we played together on a line way back when in Cicero and in regional camp and state camp.”

Kirwan played for the Syracuse Nationals as a 14-year-old before leaving home for Avon Old Farms in 2017-18. His coming out year came in 2018-19 with Little Caesar’s in Detroit where he exploded for a combined 65 goals with 118 points in 79 games with their 16U program.

“Just playing with a bunch of good guys and a good coach in Kris Draper, great facilities, great organization and we had a real good team that year.”

The USHL noticed and he spent the next two seasons with Madison (WI) and then Green Bay in the dispersal draft after Madison folded scoring at about a goal every other game clip.

“Me and Danny were supposed to play together with Madison after he got drafted there, but Green Bay was a great spot, and I loved my time there.”

Kirwan stands 6’2” and 194 lb. and plays a 200-foot game—one example against Michigan State was hustling back from the offensive zone for a diving breakup of a breakaway chance. His spot on the power play is between the circles in the high slot.

The youngest of four hockey-playing siblings, Kirwan’s older sister, Lauren, played Division I hockey with Minnesota State-Mankato and the University of New Hampshire and his oldest brother, Luke, went the Ontario Hockey League route with several teams before finishing with two years the University of Prince Edward Island. His other older brother, Matt, also spent time with Avon Old Farms before finishing with one season in the NAHL.

The junior Recreation major is planning to finish his fourth season at Penn State next season and then?

“See what it takes. Hopefully play some pro hockey and hopefully we win some things here along the way—that’s the goal.”

Kirwan netted his first collegiate hat trick against Army on Jan. 6 and Penn State hockey media rep John Hanna got him the puck and helped with the obligatory pictures.

“That’s going to go to my dad for his office.”

A memento for the miles, skates, sticks and early mornings times four.

(Photos provided by Penn St. Athletic and Men’s Hockey Depts.)

“Small Saves”

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Here is this week’s edition of “Small Saves.”

Enjoy!

Brooklyn’s Dzhaniyev Has Elevated To A Major Role At Penn State

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By Warren Kozireski —

Through the first 20 games this season, he stands second on Penn State in assists with 14, tied for second in plus/minus at +10, tied for third in points with 20 and has had seven multi-point games this season but, as is true for most hockey players, Brooklyn-born junior Danny Dzhaniyev first credits his linemates and teammates.

The 5’5” 150 lb. right wing has found chemistry on a line with fellow New Yorker in Syracuse area born Ryan Kirwan.

“Playing with great linemates and we complement each other very well and I think my game has risen because of those guys,” Dzhaniyev said in mid-January. “Gaining more and more confidence, we go and hopefully can continue that.

“We’ve (Kirwan) known each other for a long time. We knew that the day would come when we would play with each other and we already knew the chemistry is there. Something we’ve been looking forward to too. I know where he is on the ice all the time and he knows where I am; it’s like having a partner in crime, you know. We complement each other to play to the best of our abilities.

“We actually played on a line at state camp—I think we were 14 or 15 (years old)—it’s pretty cool looking back on it. The memories that we have and then both committing to Penn State was kind of surreal. We played against each other during our junior career, but now being here is pretty special.”

He has already tied his collegiate career high for goals in a season with six and set a new mark with 20 points and counting.

“It’s about time that I broke out in college. I’m having a decent year so far and I just need to keep that going. If me and Ryan continue to do what we’ve been doing, I think we can do something special. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Dzhaniyev split some early time with Xavier High School and the New Jersey Titans before being accepted in the U.S. National Team Development Program for two seasons. Despite registering a combined 36 points over two seasons, he decided to spend an extra season at the junior level and joined Dubuque in the USHL.

There he exploded for 18 goals and 36 points in 49 games the year prior to joining the Nittany Lions.

“I think it (the extra year) helped me a lot to be completely honest. I think confidence for me was a bit of an issue and then having that breakout year in the USHL really helped out. Then coming to Penn State, I won’t say that it was an easy transition, but the extra year in the USHL really helped me a lot.”

Dzhaniyev admits to being a bit superstitious. He must be the last player off the ice after pre-game warmups.

“I do, yeah. Something I’ve done for a long time now. I have no idea (how it started) to be completely honest with you. Just started and kept going.”

The Communication major scored his first collegiate goal against Canisius his freshman year and has the puck mounted on wood back home in Brooklyn. He counts the gold medal he won with the U-17’s at the 2019 Four Nations Cup in Sweden as a favorite memory, among others.

“Any international tournament was a blast and national camp was a good time for me personally because that’s where I broke out and made name for myself, but probably my first game at Pegula (Ice Arena) was something that’s I’m never going to forget. It was incredible; the atmosphere is something you dream of when you’re a kid and it was special.

“But it’s all thanks to the Brooklyn Aviators.”

And lately the chemistry with fellow New Yorker Ryan Kirwan.

(Photos provided by Penn State Athletic and Men’s Hockey Departments)

Section V Launches First Girls High School Ice Hockey Team: Webster

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

In the spring of 2023 the Greater Rochester Girls High School Hockey 2023 Spring Showcase was held at the Rochester Ice Center in Perinton, NY.  One hundred thirty-two high school age girls participated in the showcase.

As a result of that showcase the first-ever girls organized high school ice hockey team was formed representing Webster (a combination of Webster-Schroder and Webster-Thomas High Schools). They are the first girls high school hockey team to represent Section V.

Allyson Watrous, a native of Whitesboro, NY, is the head coach of Webster. She recently talked about the first year team and its strengths.

“I think the strong point of our team this year is going back to our ‘Why,’” stated Watrous, who played her college hockey at Nazareth College. “’Why’ we are doing this.

“We are doing this to grow the game of girl’s hockey. If we can keep driving that home, we will grow the game.

“We want them to go out there everyday and skate, have fun and compete. We want to give the girls the chance to play hockey. That is the strength of this team.”

Watrous also talked about how the whole process came about in developing  Section V girls high school hockey.

“There was about a five-year process that took place before this team came into existence,” stated Watrous, who played hockey for the Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles club team and served as the team’s assistant captain for the 2018-19 season. “My plan for coaching was to maybe get in with one of the high school boys teams as a volunteer assistant coach.

“Then I was told about this little secret that there was a girl’s team being formed. I applied to become their coach and I got hired about four months ago.

“I put together the practice schedule, got our team together and here we are.”

The 23 girl roster is made up of only four seniors and the rest being players from seventh grade on up to juniors. The first year team is considered young.

“We’re developing and growing the team,” explained Watrous. “It makes me very excited to see where this team is going to be in two or three years.”

As for captains and alternate captains on the team, Watrous has an interesting approach.

“We established a leadership group,” remarked Watrous. “Every one of the players is a leader.

“But we had a group of them that we selected from the start of the program. They take charge of that.

“But we still tell all of the players that they are leaders.”

What is the future of Section V girl’s hockey?

“We will be getting more teams, but that is to be determined in the future,” answered Watrous. “The rumor is that there will be another team added next season.

“After that we hope to keep adding teams. It is a slow process.

“But it is one we are excited about.”

(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)

Buffalo Jr. Sabres Launch Girls Hockey Program To Empower Young Athletes

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Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Jr. Sabres proudly announce the establishment of their Girls Hockey
Program, aimed at fostering a supportive an empowering environment for young female
athletes in the world of ice hockey.
As a renowned organization committed to developing the next generation of hockey players, the
Buffalo Jr. Sabres recognize the growing interest and talent among young girls in the sport. The
launch of the Girls Hockey Program signifies the organization’s dedication to providing equal
opportunities for both male and female players to excel in hockey.
“As President of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, it has always been my goal to provide young athletes the
opportunity to play hockey at the highest level with our experienced staff of coaches and

state-of-the art facilities,” said Patrick Kaleta, President, Buffalo Jr Sabres. “The addition of a girls
program only furthers our commitment to growing the game in our community and will set a
new standard for girls hockey in Western New York”
The Buffalo Jr. Sabres believe that this initiative will not only contribute to the growth of
women’s hockey but also empower young girls to pursue their dreams within the sport. The
organization is excited about the positive impact this program will have on the local community
and looks forward to witnessing the success of its participants on and off the ice.
To make this the best possible program from the start, the Buffalo Jr. Sabres are pleased to
announce Nicole Brown as the Director of Girls Hockey within the organization. “I am very
excited to help bring high level Tier 1 girls hockey to the Buffalo Jr. Sabres program. This is a
huge step towards growing the girl’s game in Western NY. Having access to the highest-level
coaches, facilities, and support will benefit so many young girls for years to come.”