Weekly Feature

2017-02-09 / Sports

Monsignor Martin girls hockey finishes regular season strong

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

The Monsignor Martin Association girls hockey team closed out the regular season on a roll.

The MMA won their final four games by a combined score of 23-2 and finished 12-3-2-1.

“Towards the end of the season, we found some lines that seemed to click and we figured out what is going to motivate the girls to help us finish the season strong,” MMA coach Linda Mroz said. “I’m really proud of how they finished.”

Of the team’s final four wins, its biggest victory was a 5-0 shutout over Orchard Park/Frontier/Lake Shore on Jan. 23 at Buffalo RiverWorks.

It was the first time Orchard Park/Frontier/ Lake Shore has been shut out this season.

“I emphasized to the team to have fun,” Mroz said. “In the last few games prior to that, I could tell the girls were not laughing as much. The girls went into that game with their heads held high and a completely different attitude. They were laughing and smiling. I mean, what did we have to lose? We were in third place. I said to go out and have fun.”

Ellie Cleary broke a scoreless game in the first period on a five-on-three power play, assisted by Kayla Blas of Sacred Heart and Emily Matthew of Mount St. Mary.

The MMA added three goals in the second period. Cleary scored unassisted; Kaitin Drew-Mead of Sacred Heart scored, assisted by Blas; and Blas scored, assisted by Drew-Mead. Drew-Mead scored her second goal of the game in the third period, assisted by Danielle Bos.

“I told the girls to put pucks to the net, crash the net and go until you hear a whistle,” Mroz said.

Goalie Brianna Gawronski, who finished the regular season with a 8-1-2 record and a league-best .956 save percentage, recorded the shutout.

The MMA was coming off a crushing 3-2 overtime loss to Kenmore/Grand Island Jan. 19 at the North Buffalo Ice Rink.

The MMA outshot Kenmore/Grand Island, 41-17. Ellie Simmons made 39 saves for Kenmore/ Grand Island.

Cleary scored a power-play goal, assisted by Matthew, two minutes into the first period. Kenmore/Grand Island answered three minutes later and took the lead with 4:19 left in the first period.

Sophie Robinson of Mount Mercy tied the game at 2-2 with less than five minutes left in regulation.

Kenmore/Grand Island scored the game-winning goal with 17 seconds left in overtime.

“I told the girls that they played hard and their goalie stood on her head,” Mroz said.

The MMA also beat Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence, 6-1, Jan. 25 at the Northtown Center at Amherst and West Seneca/Eden/Hamburg, 5-0, Jan. 26 at the North Buffalo Ice Rink and 7-1 on Jan. 31 at the West Seneca Ice Rink.

Riley Malicki of St. Mary’s of Lancaster (goal), Alyssa Piazza of Sacred Heart (goal), Sophie Robinson (goal) and Fiona Danahy (goal, two assists) added to the win. Izzy Friedman (two goals) scored against Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence.

Cleary added three assists, and Drew-Mead and Blas each tallied an assist.

Drew-Mead started the team’s scoring in the first meeting against West Seneca/Hamburg/ Eden, assisted by Matthew and Mackenzie Blake (Sacred Heart).

Four minutes later, Drew-Mead scored again in traffic, assisted by Blas and Matthew.

The score remained 2-0 until the third period when Moira Michalski of Nardin intercepted a puck at the blue line and scored a short-handed goal.

Friedman extended the lead to 4-0 when she scored off a rebound.

Drew-Mead completed her hat trick 20 seconds later, weaving around three defenders and placing her shot past the goalie.

Gawronski and Makenna Walp of Sacred Heart combined for 20 saves for the shutout.

The team also honored its six seniors: Gawronski, Drew-Mead, Bos, Julia Ahr, Walp and Markella Phillips.

Drew-Mead had another hat trick in the team’s second victory over West Seneca/Hamburg/ Eden.

Friedman, Riley Malicki, Piazza and Matthew each added a goal. Ava Tower of Mount St. Mary tallied two assists.

Mroz said every single player on the team has a role and knows what role they need to play.

“It’s nice that different players have scored in our games,” Mroz said. “They all work hard. If they don’t, they will sit the bench.”

Mroz did specifically mention the work ethic of Tower, a sophomore, and Piazza, a freshman.

“Their attitudes are great because they are coachable kids,” Mroz said. “Stats do not mean everything. You are not going to see the body contact that the two of them can put out on the ice. Ava can pinch a player off and pass the puck up, and it could go to three to four people, so if it was not for her, we would not get the puck down in the other end. Those stats go unnoticed.”

The MMA is off until they face West Seneca/Hamburg/ Eden in the Federation quarterfinals at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 14, at the Northtown Center at Amherst Feature Rink.

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