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Frontier scores late to defeat Orchard Park in quarterfinals

AMHERST - Frontier High School coach Bob Klimowicz knew that Orchard Park would play the trap to try and shut down their best lines.

Klimowicz also knew if his team would be patient enough they would have a chance to cash in on the opportunities that would be given to them.

Nick Ortiz scored with 1:26 left in the third period and Cooper Soto made the big saves when he had to as the Falcons defeated Orchard Park, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation playoffs.

“We knew they were going to do that and we needed to be as patient as possible,” said Klimowicz. “We had a couple of mistakes in our own zone here and there, but for the most part we were patient.”

Orchard Park tried to put pressure on the Frontier defense by dumping and chasing all night. But the Falcons did a good job of getting the puck out of the zone fast and not getting caught chasing the puck in their own zone.

“They were just trying to dump (the puck) and kind of waiting for our mistake,” said Klimowicz. “For the most part we pretty much played mistake free, which is what you have to do in those kind of games.”

When the Falcons did falter in their own zone, Soto was there to keep the game scoreless. Soto made a great diving save early in the second period to keep the game tied 0-0. Soto looked out of position as Orchard Park had the open net, but he dove to his left and made a sprawling save.

Klimowicz said he knew before the game that Soto was ready to play.

“He seemed focused before the game,” said Klimowicz. “Sometimes he has that look. He has a lot of confidence playing in this rink (Northtowns Center) too. He came up big. Those two saves in the second period were gigantic for us.”

With the game scoreless late in the third period, Orchard Park took a penalty for interference and Frontier was determined to take advantage – and they did.

Nick Ortiz took a pass from Soto and skated through the neutral zone and then wide in the Orchard Park zone before firing a perfect backhand that beat Charles Kritkausky to the near post.

It was a perfect shot and one that coaching staff has been harping on the boys to do more – use the backhand.

“We harp on these guys all the time in practice, use your backhand,” said Klimowicz. “At that point when we got under five minutes it was like playing overtime. We told them just get the puck to the night, don’t be too cute.”

This was a big win for the Falcons as they have aspirations of getting back to Super Sunday. In years past, the Falcons were always the underdog heading into the playoffs, but not this year. This season the Falcons knew they had a good team and people have picked them to get back to the finals.

“We had a lot of our guys coming back and they expectations are very high,” said Klimowicz. “Toward the end of the year we weren’t playing well. We still try to throw the underdog roll to these guys and make them feed off that a little bit.”

Frontier will be back in action on Monday, Feb. 18 at the Northtowns Center in Amherst. Game time is set for 6 p.m.


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