PROTECTING THE NET — Vinny Goodrich holds down the Hamburg net during a rush to the net in Sunday’s quarterfinals. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
A third game between two evenly-matched Bulldog teams will determine which plays in the WNY Federation Hockey’s small-school championship game.
The Kenmore East Bulldogs and Hamburg Bulldogs each picked up a win during the Feb. 16 quarterfinal playoff action at Northtown Center at Amherst and as a result, will face each other on Feb. 19 in the semifinals.
“We’ve played Hamburg twice this year and both games ended in a 2-2 tie,” said Kenmore East head coach Kyle Pray, whose second-seeded team scored three third-period goals to knock off Grand Island 5 – 3. “So that will be another close game. Both teams are even in a lot of ways, so it will probably come down to a few bounces and one-on-one battles.”
Hamburg, meanwhile, hung on to defeat Kenmore West 2 – 1. Hamburg forward Alex Suchan scored midway through the first period and late in the second – assisted in both instances by linemates Ethan Sachse and Brendan Hart – to give the Bulldogs a 2 – 0 lead. But the Blue Devils made things interesting in the third, thanks to a Kyle Maida goal at 5:44 in the period.
“Playoff hockey,” said Hamburg head coach John McFall. “It’s down to the gun. That’s a proud team and you know they’re going to play hard. They gave it to us. We had lots of shots, but couldn’t get through. We know that kid’s a good goalie; we’ve played him each of the last four years. We put a ton of shots on him and he made some big saves.”
Blue Devils goaltender Sean Guetti, an alternate captain, stopped 37 of Hamburg’s 39 shots. His counterpart, Vinny Goodrich, made 22 saves.
“It’s a huge matchup with Ken East,” McFall said, looking to his next opponent. “We’ve tied them 2 – 2 twice. I know one of those games, we were up 2 – 0, and they came back on us. Both teams have great respect for each other. That could be a game to watch – a game to remember.”