Niagara-Wheatfield will defend its Federation large school hockey title after eliminating Lancaster, 4-1, Monday night in a semifinal game at the Northtown Center in Amherst. Justin Durkee and Ryan Logar had two goals each. Matt Paonessa had two assists and goalie Nate Sommers had 21 saves.
The Falcons (16-4-2) will play Clarence next Monday at the First Niagara Center. They beat Clarence earlier this season, 7-4. Clarence beat Frontier, 4-2, in the other semi.
“We’re pretty young, we took 15 new players in this year,” said coach Rick Wrazin. “I think as a team we knew we could do it. We’ve had a very high ranking in the state [No. 4 in the state sportswriters poll] all year. We’ve been viewed as a young team locally and a lot of people didn’t expect it.”
In the second semifinal, Clarence (15-7) trailed 2-0 midway through the second period, but a goal by George Haugeto with 7:56 left in the period started the rally that enabled the Red Devils to earn their first trip to the title game. Josh Slowinski tied it 1:16 later.
Josh Owczarzak scored what proved to be the game-winner on a power play 45 seconds into the third period. Tristan Drescher added a short-handed goal at 4:34 for the Red Devils, who outshot Frontier, 36-17.
St. Mary’s might want a recount of this week’s Buffalo News small school poll. Voting in the polls is closed before Monday’s games, and the Lancers continued their fine late-season play with a big victory Monday night.
St. Mary’s, ranked seventh, recorded its eighth straight win by handing No. 5 Cleveland Hill just its second loss of the season, 65-53, in a nonleague game.
St. Mary’s got balanced scoring and good zone defense and used a 15-3 advantage second quarter to turn the game around for good. Corey Kiebzak had 15 points while Paul Rath had 14 as St. Mary’s took a 33-25 halftime lead and built on it from there.
Latrell Tyson also had eight points for the Lancers, who take on Nichols in Thursday’s Manhattan Cup quarterfinals at Canisius High.
Jordan Parker had 15 to lead the Golden Eagles (16-2), a No. 2 seed in the Section VI Class B-2 playoffs who host a quarterfinal on Friday.
Nichols became the first in the 10-team North American Prep Hockey Association to win back-to-back playoff championships.
The Vikings wrapped up their second title in a row by scoring thrice in the final 6:15 to pull away from Ridley College (Ont.), 4-1, in Port Hope, Ont. Boston University-bound senior Maddie Elia scored the game-winner. Olivia Zafuto scored twice in a 24-second span, the first with 1:52 left to cap the win for Nichols (31-7-1).