Weekly Feature

2012-03-08 / Sports

Monsignor Martin wins girls Federation hockey title

Girls Hockey

The Monsignor Martin girls hockey team had some unfinished business to take care of when they took the ice for the 2012 Federation girls hockey playoffs. Monsignor Martin enjoyed a stellar year during the inaugural season of the Federation girls hockey league, going 17-1. Postseason success eluded them, though, as they were upset in the semifinals by Orchard Park-Frontier.

Head coach Chris Malicki let his team know that could not happen again.

“We talked about it,” Malicki said of last year’s playoff disappointment. “It definitely made an impression on the younger girls. I told them that’s not happening again. They were ready and took nothing for granted.”

Monsignor Martin finally claimed its championship with a 2-1 victory over West Seneca in the Federation championship game at the Northtown Center in Amherst on Friday night. The victory improved Monsignor Martin, a team made up of girls from eight Catholic schools in Western New York, to 18-1-1 overall on the season.

Once again, Monsignor Martin cruised through the regular season but ran into a little adversity in the postseason. After a 4-1 win over Kenmore to reach the finals, Monsignor Martin faced West Seneca, the only team to defeat them in the regular season, in a matchup of the top two seeds. Monsignor Martin came out flying in the first period and outshot West Seneca 16-5. Yet, it was West Seneca who took a 1-0 lead after one period, thanks to a goal by Hailey Glynn and tremendous goaltending by goaltender Sydney Glynn.

After a penalty-filled second period, Monsignor Martin still trailed by one. With just a single period left to turn things around and claim the title, Malicki tried to settle his team down during the intermission.

“I told them that we hadn’t lost a third period all year,” Malicki said. “We have so much depth, and other teams just wear down late in games. We just needed to dig deep and we would get them. That definitely happened.”

With seven minutes left to play, Julia Duquette skated in and beat Glynn to tie the game at 1. Four minutes later, she scored the title clinching goal with a shot past the glove of Glynn. Monsignor Martin then killed off the final three minutes to win it.

“We expected it to be a hard-fought and tough game, and it was,” Malicki said. “We scored when we needed to.”

Monsignor Martin also got big saves in net from goaltender Courtney Wesolowski. She started both of Monsignor Martin’s playoff wins. A transfer who was playing in her first season for Monsignor Martin, Wesolowski came up huge in the final two games to help lead Monsignor Martin to the championship.

“She had a great year,” Malicki said of Wesolowski. “When we needed big saves, she made them. She came up huge when we were in a tight game on Friday.”

It was a sweet victory for the Monsignor Martin girls who were there for the disappointment one year earlier. Malicki saw nearly half his team from the year before leave, but the ones who were there wanted to correct what happened one year earlier.

“There was a little redemption,” Malicki said. “We lost 15 girls from our team last year. In the beginning, there was a lot of gelling as the players were trying to come together. It really started to happen after Christmas.”

Malicki mentioned that players like Rachel Ziarnowski and Rachel Leonard made a few more sacrifices this season for the greater good of the team in order to bring home a championship.

“The goal was to win a championship, not individual titles,” Malic- ki said. “The most important thing is that they did it as a team effort.”

Monsignor Martin did have some of the league’s leading scorers, including Leonard in third place, Tara Barnhardt and Ziarnowski, who tied for fourth place, and Duquette in fifth place. They will also lose only two seniors to graduation in Barnhardt and Danielle Trolli, though Barnhardt, a St. Mary’s of Lancaster senior, will be missed for her scoring and leadership.

“She had an outstanding season,” Malicki said. “She was one of our best all-around forwards. She improved tremendously. I felt good for her.”

Still, expectations will be high for next season once again. Now, Monsignor Martin will have to learn to defend their title instead of chasing it. Malicki was certainly proud of what they were able to do this year.

“I told them that if they could relax and have a good practice and make all the important plays, that they could go all the way,” he said. “They did.” email: mmigliore@beenews.com

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