Zach Eberhardt scored twice in Frontier\\\'s 5-0 win over Orchard Park to send the Falcons into the large school semifinals. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
When it concerns his third-line players, Frontier boys hockey coach Bobby Klimowicz has always abided by a certain philosophy.
“For as long as I’ve been coaching, it’s been ‘take care of the puck in our own zone, scoring is a bonus,’” he said.
He got that bonus on Feb. 15. The Falcons’ third line, which consists of Zach Eberhardt, Matt Kelley and Mitch Khinicki, accounted for three Frontier goals – including two in the first period – in the team’s 5 – 0 victory against Orchard Park in a WNY Federation large school quarterfinal matchup at Northtown Center.
Eberhardt scored twice while Kelley added a goal and an assist. Khinicki was held off the score sheet but Klimowicz said he contributed in other ways.
“Our third line was just awesome today,” Klimowicz said. “I’m really happy with the way they played.”
Entering the game, the Falcons’ third-liners had combined for just 4 goals and five assists in league games this season. Eberhardt suggested the magnitude of the game contributed to the line’s emergence.
“It was just the big-game atmosphere,” he said. “We played like a line; we have all year, but we finally came through.”
Seven different Frontier players found themselves in the box. Still, led by Eberhardt and Kelley, who make up one shorthanded unit, and Jim Gleason, who scored a highlight-reel goal with one of his teammates in the box, the Falcons killed them all off. Gleason finished with 2 goals.
“The penalty kill was phenomenal. It had to be,” Klimowicz said. “We’re usually a pretty disciplined team.”
Frontier ended Orchard Park’s season and advanced to Feb. 18’s Federation semifinals against top-ranked large school Williamsville North starting 6 p.m. at the Northtown Center. Results were not available at press time. The Spartans bested the Falcons in both of the teams’ meetings this season, but Gleason said that as long as he and his teammates play as they did against Orchard Park, they’ll stand a chance.
“The guys understand that it’s going to be a tough road,” said Gleason. “As long as we keep playing a defensive game, we keep playing hard and we keep playing for each other, I have faith in these guys.”
The Quakers’ seventh season since the program’s inception ended on a sour note, despite garnering a third seed in the playoffs. They lost to Frontier early in the season but got the better of their Southtown rival 6 – 2, in a rematch later in the year. The program still has yet to win a playoff game.
“We just didn’t have it today,” head coach Derek Gilham said. “There’s not much more I can say. We looked uptight. We just didn’t have our game today.”