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High School Ice Hockey: Hamburg grabs three seed by beating Kenmore East

Austin Bishop and Hamburg enter the WNY Federation small school playoffs this week as a three seed. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Hamburg clinched the third seed in the upcoming Western New York Federation small school playoffs with a 5-3 win over defending state champions Kenmore East. Coming into the game tied with 18 points, the Bulldogs improved their league record to 8-3-1-1 and now with 20 points pulled ahead of East (7-3-4-0) in the standings.

“We went into the game thinking this was playoff game for us,” Hamburg head coach John McFall said. “Third place was important; it changes the possible teams we could face in the first round of the playoffs. We’d already wrapped up a first round bye and we wanted to take that next step for our season.”

Hamburg exploded for four goals in the second period to take a 5-2 lead into the third. Chris Moses scored twice, his 22nd and 23rd, to share the lead in the small-school division with Connor Fields of Bishop Timon/St. Jude. Moses took a behind the back pass from linemate Alex Peters to score his first goal, and then tallied again on his fourth short-handed marker of the season.

“Peters was hurt earlier in the season, but he has rebounded well and is playing some of his best hockey. He and Chris have worked very well together lately,” McFall said. “Even playing short-handed, Chris is always thinking offense. He read the pass perfectly, picked it off, and raced on a breakaway to put the game out of reach at 4-1.”

Jon Liberatore opened the scoring in the first period with a short-handed goal. The defenseman followed an offensive rush by Brett Ross and Austin Bishop to fire a rebound into an open net. Kenmore East would later tie the score at one apiece before the end of the first period.

The Bulldogs played the third period like playoff style hockey, according to McFall. He said every chance they had the players sent the puck deep into the East zone while the forwards and defense played a tight checking style. Sophomore Zachary Sortisio earned his second straight win in net as he stopped 30 of 33 shots.

Hamburg now awaits its next opponent in a quarterfinal playoff game on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. at Buffalo State Arena. The top four seeds get a pre-quarterfinal round bye in the 12-team tournament.

“It doesn’t matter who we play, we know that whatever team advances will have already won a playoff game and has what it takes to advance to the next level,” McFall noted. “All of our games were close this year and any number of teams can make a run in the playoffs. Playoff hockey is the best of the year. These games will certainly be exciting.”

Elsewhere, Frontier and St. Francis enter their playoff brackets on the losing end of regular season finales.

Frontier fell 4-2 to Niagara-Wheatfield as the team’s battled Sunday (Feb. 10) to move up the large school seedings. The Falcons, who finished the regular season 14-6 overall and 7-6 in large school play, will be the four seed in the upcoming Federation playoffs. They’ll open against No. 5 Orchard Park in the large school quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 15 at Northtown Center in Amherst.

St. Francis lost 6-1 on Feb. 3 to St. Joe’s, the private school’s top seed in the upcoming playoffs. The Red Raiders, who won the WNY Federation title last season, were slated to open in a semifinal play-in game as the fourth seed against No. 5 St. Mary’s. A win would set up a rematch with St. Joe’s in the private school semifinals on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Niagara University.

Playoff Hockey Schedule

Boys Federation Small Schools
Pre-Quarters (Wed., Feb. 13) 6, 8 p.m. at Northtown Center
8-Lew-Port vs. 9-Will. South; 5-Sweet Home vs. 12-Amherst
Pre-Quarters (Thurs., Feb. 14) 6, 8 p.m. at Northtown Center
6-W. Seneca East vs. 11-N.T.; 7-Grand Island vs. 10-Ken West
Quarterfinals (Sat., Feb. 16) 5, 7 p.m. at Northtown Center
2-Will. East vs. TBD; 4-Kenmore East vs. TBD
Quarterfinals (Sun., Feb. 17) 1, 3 p.m. at Buffalo State
1-W. Seneca West vs TBD; 3-Hamburg vs. TBD
Semifinals (Tue., Feb. 19) 6, 8:30 p.m. at Northtown Center
Final (Mon., Feb. 25) 6 p.m. at First Niagara Center

Boys Federation Large Schools
Quarterfinals (Fri., Feb. 15) at 6, 8 p.m. Northtown Center
4-Frontier vs. 5-O.P.; 3-Lancaster vs. 6-Will. North
Quarterfinals (Sat., Feb. 16) 1, 3 p.m. at Northtown Center
1-Clarence vs. 8-Lockport; 2-Niag-Wheatfield vs. 7-N.F.
Semifinals (Mon., Feb. 18) 6, 8:30 p.m. at Northtown Center
Final (Mon., Feb. 25) 4 p.m. at First Niagara Center

Boys Federation Private Schools
Semifinals (Tues., Feb. 19) 6:30, 8:30 p.m. at Niagara University
4-St. Francis/5-St. Mary’s vs. 1-St. Joe’s; 2-Canisius vs. 3-Timon
Final (Mon., Feb. 25) 4 p.m. at First Niagara Center

Girls Federation Hockey
Quarterfinals (Mon., Feb. 11) at Northtowns Center
5-Sweet Home/Amherst 3, 4-Frontier/Orchard Park 2
Semifinals (Wed., Feb. 13) at Northtowns Center
1-Msgr. Martin vs. 5-SH/Amherst; 2-Williamsville vs 3-Kenmore
Final (Fri., Feb. 15) at Northtowns Center


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