Weekly Feature

2017-12-07 / Sports

Lancaster boys’ hockey looking to build on last year’s runner-up finish

Sports Reporter

The Lancaster boys’ hockey team had one of the best seasons in program history last year. The Legends made it to the Section VI Large School Federation Championship Game before falling to Williamsville North in overtime.

This year’s team will be quite different. 12 seniors from the 2016-17 team graduated and only six players will return. While the makeup of the team has changed, early results are encouraging.

The team went to the Fab 15 Tournament in New York. They won the first game last Friday, defeating Pelham 5-0 with two goals from Breyden Dixon and one each from Eli Marino, Derek Lasker and Jacob Jackson. Max Richter had three assists and Kevin King had 12 saves in net.

“The boys are playing well in the system of attack and are being responsible on defense,” Lancaster coach Kevin Miller said. “We’re limiting other teams to low numbers of shots. That’s always a plus. The team is younger, but they’re working well together. They like to play the body quite a bit. They hustle, speed is certainly a strength. They’re physical, which helps with forechecking. We’re playing relatively well at both ends right now. They’re playing more responsible. You either get it or you don’t, so it’s really refreshing on my end that they all do and buy into the system.”

They then defeated Rye Country Day High School 6-0 on Saturday. Riley Dirschberger, Richter, Noah Machlowski, Ryan Voight, Tyler Oddo and Marino scored for the Legends.

“Once again, we were able to limit the other team,” Miller said. “They only had 13 shots on net. Dean Haus got the shutout with 13 saves.”

One encouraging aspect of the weekend’s wins was how many different players scored between the two games. They got contributions from everyone and were able to shut down the other teams defensively.

“I have to give credit to the entire team,” Miller said. “They scored 11 goals in two days and only two guys scored twice. That’s a good situation to be in when you’re playing balanced as a team. They’re contributing on all three lines offensively. We’re very fortunate to have that depth so far, so hopefully we take that into Thursday’s game against Clarence.”

While last year’s team was a senior-heavy group, this year’s squad has a mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores. The seniors serve as the leaders on both the offensive and defensive units.

“This year’s team is relatively young,” Miller said. “We have a good balance between sophomores, juniors and seniors. We’re young, but we’re getting some good leadership from the seniors. It’s a good mix of guys.

“Offensively, we’re going to lean a lot on our veterans. Voight is in his third and final year. Riley Dirschberger is returning. Defensively, we have Jacob Jackson and Zach Foley. It’s nice to have positive leaders. They’re all scholar athletes. They’re smart and very positive. They’re translating it over into other players as well at this point.”

While there has been plenty of turnover, the team still has big goals. The Legends are hoping to get back to the final and win this time. While there are plenty of strong teams in the large school division, Lancaster is aiming to get to the state playoffs.

“Our goal is to go further than we did last year,” Miller said. “Last season was one of our best with getting to the Section VI championship game. It’s a tough division to come out of for Division I. You have North, Niagara-Wheatfield, Orchard Park, Clarence. There is always a test. We’re hoping to get back to the championship game and move forward from there. That’s our team goal from day one. Winning a championship would be nice for the program, the team and the organization.”

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