Weekly Feature



2017-12-06 / Sports

Senior-loaded Williamsville girls hockey team aims for program’s first section title

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter


Williamsville’s Holly Schmelzer brings the puck up on the wing during the team’s 3-1 loss to Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence Nov. 21 at the Northtown Center at Amherst Feature Rink. The team captain leads the entire league with four goals and six assists for 10 points through the team’s first four games. She also set the single-game school record for assists with five in the team’s 7-3 win over West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden Friday at the West Seneca Town Rink. 
Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville’s Holly Schmelzer brings the puck up on the wing during the team’s 3-1 loss to Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence Nov. 21 at the Northtown Center at Amherst Feature Rink. The team captain leads the entire league with four goals and six assists for 10 points through the team’s first four games. She also set the single-game school record for assists with five in the team’s 7-3 win over West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden Friday at the West Seneca Town Rink. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville’s girls ice hockey team is always in the mix to win a championship but other than winning a Federation title in the WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation’s inaugural season in 2010-11, the squad has fallen short.

Last year’s squad was one of the best teams in program history, finishing the regular season 15-0-3 and was upset by Kenmore for the second consecutive year in the Section VI semifinals. Williamsville then lost to Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park in the Federation title game.

Williamsville coach Rick Hopkins is hoping that the 10 seniors in this year’s group can be the team that makes history.

“That’s one piece of the puzzle that we have trouble finding,” Hopkins said. “When the kids talk about it, the coaches are not around. I think they use it as motivation. We had a great regular season, and part of that was because we got the breaks and bounces. Now it’s this year’s senior class to try and make history.”

Williamsville is off to a 3-1 start to open the 2017-18 season, beating West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden twice, winning 2-0, Nov. 21 at Riverworks, and 7-3 Friday at the West Seneca Town Rink, and Kenmore/Grand Island, 4-2, Nov. 30 at the Northtown Center at Amherst. The team’s lone loss was a 3-1 decision against Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence Nov. 22 at the Northtown Center at Amherst.

The 7-3 win over West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden was special for a few reasons. It was the anniversary of the first Federation game ever held in 2010, which Williamsville was a part of.

Jenna Woods, a senior forward from Williamsville South, set the team record for most goals in a game with five, breaking assistant coach Shauna Clair’s team record of four that she set in 2010.

She had a natural hat trick to open the game and added her final two goals in the third. The record-breaking goal came at 7:08 of the third period.

“It was a two-on-one with Holly and Jenna waited for the goalie to commit and slid it into the five-hole,” Hopkins said. “She came back to the bench and I told her that she had broken coach Clair’s record.”

Holly Schmelzer, a senior center at Williamsville East, broke Emily Koestler’s single game team record of 2012 for most assists with five. She also tallied two goals in the game to finish with seven points. She also tallied two goals against Kenmore/ Grand Island.

“Holly is a dynamic player with a ton of speed,” Hopkins said. “It’s a treat to watch. She has a real passion for the game. She recently committed to Plattsburgh to play hockey.”

Both players have stepped up this season to help replace offense that left with the graduation of Leah Czerwinski, a two-time First Team All-Bee all-star who tallied 21 goals and 10 assists and is playing at Oswego.

Woods also scored the team’s first goal of the season against West Seneca/Hamburg/

Eden.

Schmelzer and Woods are the team’s top two scorers in the league. Schmelzer, a returning Second Team All-Western New York all-star, has four goals and six assists for 10 points. Woods has six goals and one assist for seven points.

Both have played varsity hockey since eighth grade.

Woods and Schmelzer are team captains with senior Amanda Gaffney, a center from Williamsville East who has played varsity hockey since she was in seventh grade. Gaffney was an alternate captain last year. Gaffney had a goal and two assists against Kenmore/ Grand Island.

“She has great hands, vision and great anticipation,” Hopkins said. “She has smart hockey IQ.”

Elisabeth Sidorski, a junior defenseman at Williamsville South, is the assistant captain. Sidorski has played varsity hockey for five years. Sidorski is a returning Honorable Mention All-Bee all-star.

Sidorski scored the team’s lone goal at 8:19 of the first period against Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence.

“She jumps into the play quite a bit and sees the ice well,” Hopkins said. “She has great gap control and takes time and space away from her opponents. Not many goals are scored against us when Elisabeth Sidorski is on the ice.”

Sidorski’s defensive partner is once again East sophomore Laura Kaplan, a three-year player.

Senior defensemen Kaylee Conover and Rachel Juneau from North have been paired together since they were sophomores. Juneau scored the game-winning goal in the third period against Kenmore/ Grand Island.

“They are offensive minded,” Hopkins said. “Kaylee has great speed and good hands and is a very elusive skater, as does Rachel. Both also have hard shots.”

The squad is also solid between the pipes with senior goalie Jenna Lukomski, a four-year starter from Williamsville East.

The returning Honorable Mention All-Bee and Second Team All-WNY netminder recorded 10 saves in the 2-0 win over West Seneca/Hamburg/ Eden and 23 stops versus Kenmore/Grand Island.

“She is calm and cool, and does not let her emotions get away from her,” Hopkins said. “She is good on her angles, controls rebounds and anticipates the play coming at her.”

Rose Quattro, a senior at Williamsville South, started in net against Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence (26 saves) and the second West Seneca/Eden/Orchard Park game (18 saves). It is her fourth year with the team.

North freshmen goalies Elizabeth Timby and Sydney Olschewske give the team added depth.

Other returning seniors are defensemen Emily Schule (North) and Victoria Morog (South). South senior defenseman Ivy Carey, who makes her varsity debut, will be rotated in with either Schule or Morog.

Other returning players from North are junior forwards Jenna Piotrowski and Kylie Rosen, sophomore forward Kelly Dormer and freshman defenseman Ally Major.

Returning North sophomore center Sam Ingham is paired on a forward line with returning East forward Jenna Cavalieri and South freshman newcomer Elizabeth Jackson.

Cavalieri scored from Ingham and Jackson in the third period in the 2-0 win against West Seneca/Hamburg/ Eden.

Hopkins’ goalie coach is Amanda Nolan.

Williamsville faced Frontier/ Lake Shore/Orchard Park in a rematch of the Federation title game Tuesday at the Northtown Center at Amherst, but information about the game was unavailable before The Bee went to press.

They host the Monsignor Martin Association at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Northtown Center. The teams also meet Dec. 11 at Riverworks.

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