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High School Ice Hockey: Frontier takes down state’s top-ranked team

Bob Piotrowicz scored four times to help Frontier knock off WNY Federation large school front-runner Lancaster 7-4. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Falcons senior Piotrowicz scores four times

A pair of division loses so far this season took a bit out of the steam out of what Frontier hoped would be an eventual championship run.

But after an emphatic win over the state’s top ranked large school, the Falcons are once again believers. Frontier made a huge statement by defeating previously unbeaten Lancaster 7-4 on Monday (Jan. 14) at the Town of Hamburg Ice Arena.

It was also a measure of redemption for an earlier season 9-2 loss to the Western New York Federation top large school team which just last week reached the top spot in New York.

“Losing 9-2 last time, we weren’t very happy at all,” said Frontier senior forward Bob Piotrowicz. “We knew Lancaster was undefeated and we had to make a statement to the rest of the league.”

Piotrowicz ignited the victory with a big-time performance in the most crucial of games. He scored four goals, three of them coming in the first period, to help chase the Redskins’ starting goalie and then stake the Falcons to a 5-1 lead at one point in the second.

“Everybody played hard and Bobby had a phenomenal game,” Frontier head coach Bob Klimowicz said. “This was a big one, especially when you put seven goals on the board. Lancaster’s offense is powerful and they move the puck so quickly, but if there’s any weak link it’s a little on their defense. It helped to neutralize them by getting out to such a big lead.”

Playing with a lead provided Frontier with a boost of confidence during this round against Lancaster. Also helping build that advantage for the Falcons, Jacob Macchioni found the back of the net in the first period and Alex Buczek and Jim Gleason each scored in the third.

“I think we just played smarter, made better passes and Bobby obviously helped by putting in all of those goals,” said Macchioni, a fellow senior. “We just outworked them this game and it made a huge difference. (After the quick start) we just kept playing hard and we knew we could win at that point because they gave us life.”

Piotrowicz, now the top scorer among Federation large school team players, was at times the beneficiary of a dominant first line that also includes his buddies and fellow upperclassmen Gavin Evancho and Nick Ortiz while at other points, he was dominant all on his own.

Three of Piotrowicz’s goals were unassisted, one came on the power play and another was short-handed. He leads large schools with 12 goals and 23 assists.

“Right off the bat, a puck came to me and I took a quick shot and scored. From there, it just opened up the floodgates,” said Piotrowicz, who credited his linemates for their help in his big performance. “We’ve been together since freshman year and been playing travel together since then. We’re all best friends and spend a lot of time together and the chemistry builds.”

Lancaster cut Frontier’s lead to 5-3 with a pair of late second period goals, from William Delano and Jon Chavanne, and then again got to within two at 6-4 with 8:35 left in the third on a Jake Lezynski tally.

On the ensuing face-off, Delano quickly sprung loose on a breakaway but was stopped by Frontier senior Cooper Soto, who came up with probably the biggest of his 25 saves.

Austin Gallagher also scored for Lancaster, which was outshot 31-29. The Redskins were just coming off a road trip and missing top scorer Manny Manns, who was believed to be out with a shoulder injury. Manns was leading large schools with nine goals coming into the game.

Klimowicz likened this game for Lancaster with the first tilt between the two for his team when Frontier was in the midst of a busy schedule and missing some players due to sickness. The Falcons are now 5-3 in large school play and 11-3 overall.

“It puts us right back in the hunt again for the two seed,” said Klimowicz, whose team just last week fell 3-2 in a key divisional game with Clarence, but now is back to within one point of Lancaster with one extra game played. “And the No. 1 seed is not out of the question but the No. 2 seed is right there for us now.”

Maybe most importantly for the Falcons, there is again a sense that they’re back in the driver’s seat, a feeling that existed at the beginning of the season when the program’s expectations may have been higher than ever. Frontier is still in search of its first Federation title.

“I feel like no one can beat us if we play this way,” Macchione said. “I think we proved that if we put our minds to it we can beat anyone in this league.”

“We’ve got momentum going for the rest of the season now,” Piotrowicz added.
Honored recently from the Frontier hockey team were, from left: Tyler Gaglia, Bob Piotrowicz and Jacob Macchioni. Missing from photo: Tyler Schwartzott.

Frontier hockey honors

Frontier’s boys varsity ice hockey team also completed a successful holiday season with two first-place finishes in Christmas tournaments and some honors for its players.

The Falcons defeated Batavia 3-2 in the finals of the Batavia Christmas Tournament. Bob Piotrowicz was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Tyler Schwartzott and Jacob Macchioni also earned all-tournament selections.

After Christmas, the Falcons traveled to Cortland where they took first place once again, defeating host Cortland Homer 5-1 in the tournament finals. Macchioni and Tyler Gaglia earned all-tournament team honors.

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