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Hamburg close to getting over hump of division’s top teams

PUCK HANDLING — The stretch run has begun for Tyler Scull and Hamburg, who are tied for first place. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
The Hamburg hockey team hit the goal post with less than a minute left in regulation and saw a few pucks trickle behind the goalie and through the crease throughout the game and into overtime on Feb. 2 at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

That is how close the Bulldogs came to knocking off one of the other three teams that, like they are, are at or near the top of Western New York Federation small school Division II. Hamburg finished in a 2 – 2 tie that day with Kenmore East.

Hamburg (10 – 2 – 3), along with Kenmore East and Williamsville East, share first place with 23 points, but the two East teams have one game in hand, while West Seneca East is at 20 points with four fewer games played than the Bulldogs.

Against the three East teams, Hamburg is now 0 – 2 – 3, having tied Kenmore East twice and West Seneca East once, and losing to Williamsville East in two one-goal games.

“We just haven’t done enough to get us over the hump,” Hamburg head coach John McFall said. “In the last five minutes of this game and into overtime, we were buzzing. We’ve done a great job keeping goals down. We just haven’t won any of these games against the top teams yet.”

“Yet” being the operative word, though. Hamburg will finish its division season against West Seneca East on Sunday, Feb. 9 at Buffalo State and is assured of seeing one, maybe, two of these teams in the playoffs, where there will be no ties. “These are the teams we’re going to have to beat to win this thing,” McFall noted.

After the team dug itself a 2 – 0 hole, Ethan Sachse one-timed a pass from John Liberatore into the net to cut the deficit in half; Evan Wright’s slap shot, with 12 seconds left in the second period, evened the game. Colin Hart hit the post in the latter part of the third. Hamburg outshot Kenmore East 9 – 5 during the third period and into overtime. Vinny Goodrich notched the tie in goal for Hamburg.

Sachse, who stepped on to one of the top lines, with Brett Ross lost for the past two games, also was one of eight different scorers in a 8 – 3 win against West Seneca West the day before. His teammates named the big and strong forward, usually more of a role player, the contest’s player of the game.

“The boys thought Ethan was dominant in the win over West,” said McFall, whose team scored four times in the third, taking advantage of West’s playing in an overtime game the night before against rival West Seneca East. “It’s a good example of the depth that we have.”
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