Senior Tyler Bellitto and Hamburg beat West Seneca East but were then knocked out of the playoffs by Will. East in the Federation semifinals. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
A huge bounce back season from the Hamburg hockey team was ended by No. 2-seed Williamsville East, which scored three unassisted goals in the second period — two in less than 40 seconds — in a 4-0 victory over the third-seeded Bulldogs on Tuesday (Feb. 19) at Northtown Center in Amherst.
Flames senior forward Austin Bianchi led all scorers with two points — a goal at 10:55 in the second period and an assist on the fourth Flames’ goal, which came from the stick of forward Chris Winiecki. Forward Jason Cohen and defenseman Matt Aichinger accounted for the second and third goal, respectively, both coming in the second after a scoreless opening period.
Hamburg actually outshot East 29-24 but could not find the back of the net against what has been outstanding Flames’ goaltending all season. East goaltender Adam Dentico made 29 saves in the shutout. In the other end of the rink, sophomore Zachary Sortisio stopped 20 shots.
“I thought this was probably our best game of the year,” said Flames’ head coach Mike Torrillo. “From our goalie to our defense to our forwards, I thought this was our best game of the year. Adam’s save in the third period, when we had a three-goal lead, and they had a five-on-three was huge. We know he’s capable of it. People say goals are momentum, but I think saves are at times, too.”
After finishing with a combined six wins over the previous two seasons, hamburg put up 10 wins, including a first round playoff victory, as the program began to turn it around this season.
“It was all tied up after one [period], and we had our chances on offense,” said Bulldogs’ head coach John McFall. “But their goaltender is an all-state caliber goalie in my eyes. He is without a doubt the top guy in our league, if not everywhere else. I know if I had a vote, I’d give it. …All things considered, I am very proud of where my team has gone.”
Hamburg had advanced to the semifinal an opening round 7-3 win over West Seneca East on Sunday at Buffalo State College behind seniors Austin Bishop, who finished with two goals and an assist, and Chris Moses, who added two goals.
“It went back and forth and that is playoff hockey,” said McFall. “Neither team wanted it right away. It took us until the third period. I think our big guy Bishop took us on his shoulders today and carried us.”
Hamburg led 4-3 after two periods before putting the game away in the third. Bishop played a big role in the Bulldogs pulling away. After more than a year away from the game due to injuries, Bishop was able to come back for the second half of the season to make a difference for the Bulldogs. Sortisio earned the win in goal
“We told them you still have the lead,” said McFall, of his conversation with the team during the second period intermission. “They came out (hard in the third) and padded that lead. It was good effort coming out for the third period that won that game for us.”(Matthew Ondesko, Metro Source editor, contributed to this story)