The Catholic Seven continue to reign as the area’s ice queens.
The Monsignor Martin Association girls hockey team, a collection of talent from seven local private schools, capped an undefeated (20-0) season by claiming its second straight Western New York Hockey Federation championship with a 3-2 victory Friday at Northtown Center in Amherst over a Williamsville squad pooling talent from three large public high schools.
It was the fourth time this season Monsignor Martin has come from behind to beat Williamsville by a single goal.
“We had four games and all four were battles,” Monsignor Martin coach Chris Malicki told a crowd of several hundred people during the trophy presentation. “I think they were the best four games of the year.”
“Never an easy one with Williamsville,” said Monsignor Martin tri-captain and senior Julia Duquette, who assisted on the tying and winning goals.
Freshmen scored the last two goals for Monsignor Martin, both on power plays.
Brynn Wopperer banged home the rebound off a Duquette shot to tie the game at 2-2 with 48 seconds left in the second period. Brigid Keane deflected in a Duquette shot for the game-winner at 4:05 of the third period on a five-on-three power play.
“It was Duq’,” Keane said. “She makes everything happen on this team. She’s a great player to have. She shot it and it kind of deflected off my stick and went in.”
Monsignor Martin thrived all season with what Williamsville coach Rick Hopkins called “the strongest power play in the league.”
“Most teams know when I put out my top unit they can move the puck pretty well,” Malicki said. “If they take penalties, they know they are in trouble.”
“That was the game,” Hopkins said. “I told the girls more than once that, five-on-five, we won the hockey game, 2-1. But penalties count and they hurt us.”
Jordan Roetzer put Williamsville ahead at 8:53 of the first, scoring in front of the net on assists from Rachel Grampp and Sarah Scolnick.
Monsignor Martin tied the game at 4:35 of the second on a hard shot from the point by Amelia Gajewski. Maeve Christ and Dana Pezzino assisted on the goal.
Grampp, a Nichols transfer, put Williamsville back in front at 12:09 of the second with a rising wrist shot over Courtney Wesolowski’s glove. The momentum shifted when Williamsville took a penalty, and Wopperer lit the lamp less than a minute later.
“I knew going into the third period, if we were tied, I wasn’t worried,” Malicki said. “Our girls had been through this all season. We’ve won probably eight or nine games with under three minutes left in the game.”
Wesolowski stopped 17 shots, including three in the final 21 seconds when Williamsville was on the power play. Theresa Meosky made 32 saves.
Monsignor Martin went 35-3-1 over the first two seasons of Federation play, but Malicki said, “20-0 is pretty special.”
“It feels unreal,” said Duquette. “You couldn’t ask for a better ending.”
Bill Pavone of Tonawanda was presented with the inaugural Dr. James Rusin Award for his commitment and dedication to local girls hockey. Pavone maintains the girls4varsityicehockey.com website.
Rusin, the longtime Williamsvile district athletic director instrumental in starting the girls hockey Federation, died last month from cancer.