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Hamburg leads tight race at top of small school division

BELLITTO HELPS HAMBURG TO TOP SPOT — Top scorer Jordyn Bellitto and Hamburg sit atop Division II, at 4 – 1 – 2, after a 3 – 3 tie with West Seneca East, in the team’s latest game. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
During a six-game in 10-day stretch over the holidays, the Hamburg hockey team has catapulted into the Western New York Federation small school Division II lead, but not by much.

With a 3 – 3 tie with West Seneca East on Dec. 29 at Buffalo State College, to end that busy string of games, the Bulldogs are now 4 – 1 – 2 for 10 points, just ahead of Kenmore East (4 – 1 – 1) and West Seneca East (4 – 0 – 1), who are tied for second place. A four-team race atop the division also includes Williamsville East, which is 3 – 1.

Hamburg has tied Kenmore East 2 – 2 and lost 6 – 5 to Williamsville East. The teams have also tied and knocked off one another, when they have played. The race couldn’t be much closer at the top of the division, according to Hamburg head coach John McFall.

“There’s been some great, competitive hockey games between our teams,” McFall said. “They’ve been well played on both ends. All of the team teams are well coached and playing well, right now.”

The Bulldogs have come from behind to tie both Kenmore East and West Seneca East, in their latest game, using a power play goal from defenseman Tyler Scull to knot up the game 3 – 3, midway through the final period. It was Hamburg’s third power play goal of the game. McFall also noted Brendan Bartoo made some saves, down the stretch.

Also during a 5 – 3 – 3 start to the season, Hamburg has tied Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse to begin the busy stretch, Dec. 20, and lost games to large school foes Lancaster, by 2 – 1, and Orchard Park, by 6 – 3.

Hamburg has six scorers with five goals or more, spread across three lines. Senior Jordyn Bellitto leads the team in points with 15, including six goals, while junior Brendan Hart sits atop the goals lead with eight. Senior Jonathan Liberatore has logged the most minutes defensively and poured in 11 assists.

“I think we’re a solid three-line team,” McFall said. “Our scoring has been really spread out.”

The biggest surprise has been the play of cousins Collin Mills and Hart, along with fellow junior Alex Suchan, who McFall said has brought strength, speed and a solid touch to the line.

“They’ve been our top scoring line and have been very solid,” McFall said. “They started as our third line and have been playing like a top line. It makes it hard for other teams to match up.”

Hamburg will meet Williamsville East for a second time this season, on Sunday, Jan. 5 at Buffalo State College, in what will amount to a huge divisional tilt.

“After losing by a goal to them, in a game I felt like we could have won, it’s nice that we get a chance for redemption,” McFall noted.


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