Weekly Feature

2012-12-05 / Sports

Sweet Home Fed boys ice hockey opens season 4-0

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

It’s only a couple of weeks into the 2012-13 season, but the Sweet Home Federation boys ice hockey team has recorded half of its win total from last season.

Sweet Home went 8-13-1 last season. They are off to a 4-0 start this season.

Panthers coach Dave Gerspach credits the turnaround to several returning players using what they learn at practice and applying it in games.

The Panthers are led by three captains — junior goalie James Poreda, senior forward Randy DiNatale and junior forward Connor Beaudet.

At 6-foot-2, Poreda’s size makes it hard for opponents to score on him.

“He’s really solid,” Gerspach said. “He should be one of the top goalies in the league this year.”

Freshman Zach Farkas is Poreda’s backup goalie.

DiNatale, one of only three seniors on the roster, led Sweet Home last season with 24 goals and 19 assists and should be one of the league leaders in offense this season, Gerspach. He is off to a great start this season, recording 17 points through the first four games.

“He’s very gifted on offense,” Gerspach said. “He’s fast, sees the ice well and is good with the puck.”

DiNatale plays on Sweet Home’s top forward line.

Beaudet — second on the team last season with nine goals and 26 assists for 35 points — centers the line.

“Connor is a good compliment for Randy,” Gerspach said. “He’s more of a two-way player, he plays good in the defensive zone, but can finish. They make a great 1-2 punch.”

The third forward on the Panthers’ top line is freshman Connor Zak, who Gerspach called the “perfect compliment for the line.”

“He’s a young kid who is eager to play and learn,” Gerspach said. “He’s very developed as a freshman.”

Sweet Home’s second forward line is all composed of returning players, with sophomore Kevin Torrillo centering a line with junior Zach Hedrich and senior Mike Mattea.

“It’s a solid second line,” Gerspach said. “They are good in the defensive zone. I’m definitely looking for goals from them. All have the ability.”

The third forward line will feature junior John Simon centering junior Jason Raimondi and freshman Zach DeVore.

The Panthers’ defense includes senior Frank Falzone, juniors Emerson Eagle, Matt Hudson and Peyton Polyachyk, and sophomore Jack Cooper.

All are returning players. Polyachyk missed the entire last season with an injury.

“All are good defensemen,” Gerspach said. “They are playing smart and have enough talent to get the job done.”

Sweet Home’s four wins came against Geneva, 8-1, and Liverpool, 6-2, at the Early Bird Tournament held Nov. 23 and 24, and St. Francis, 6-5, Thursday and Lewiston-Porter, 2-1, Saturday.

DiNatale was named Early Bird Tournament MVP, recording two goals and three assists versus Geneva and Liverpool.

“He was dominant,” Gerpsach said. “You definitely noticed him. He set up a number of people for goals and did a great job finding them when they were open.”

Gerpsach said Beaudet could have easily gotten the MVP.

“He did everything for us,” Gerpach said. “It could have gone to either one.”

Other Sweet Home goal scorers against Geneva came from Beaudet (hat trick), Cooper (two goals) and Hedrich.

Falzone recorded three assists and Zak had two assists.

The tournament final against Liverpool was tied after the first period, with Sweet Home’s tally coming from a power-play goal from Simon, assisted by DiNatale.

DiNatale scored Sweet Home’s next two goals at the 10:32 and 5:08 mark of the second period, respectively.

Beaudet scored Sweet Home’s fourth goal — and the team’s second power-play goal of the game — from DiNatale and Zak at the 4:28 mark.

The trio hooked up for another power play goal with 1:26 remaining in the period, but this time it was Zak scoring from Beaudet and DiNatale for his first varsity goal.

Mattea tallied his first varsity goal, from Di- Natale, at the 10:18 mark of the third period.

Poreda made 27 saves for his second win in net.

Gerspach was pleased that seven different Panthers scored throughout the tournament.

St. Francis built a 2-0 with a goal from Ryan Stefaniak in the first period and a short-handed goal by Tyler McTigue in the first minute of the second period, but DiNatale answered for Sweet Home at the 9:41 mark.

Both teams combined for six goals in the final 4.5 minutes. When the smoke cleared, Sweet Home held a 5-4 lead going into the third period.

Hedrich tied the game from Mattea and Falzone at 4:20 and, 1:15 later, DiNatale scored from Polyachyk.

A minute later, DiNatale beat a St. Francis defenseman and took a backhanded shot that went off the crossbar and Beaudet whacked it out of the air into the net, making it 4-2 Sweet Home.

St. Francis’ McTigue and Bernie Lettieri scored at 2:05 and 55 seconds, remaining, to tie the game at 4-4, but, Hedrich intercepted a pass and beat the St. Francis goalie to the short side with 27 seconds remaining.

St. Francis took a penalty at the end of the second period that Beaudet capitalized on 45 seconds into the third period, on an assist from DiNatale.

McTigue scored a late power-play goal for St. Francis, which outshot Sweet Home, 11-4, in the period.

Gerspach said many of St. Francis’ shots were from the outside. He also liked the defensive work from Falzone.

Before the Lew-Port game, Gerspach told his players to get off to a faster start and they did just that when Beaudet scored from DiNatale and Zak 39 seconds into the first half.

Lew-Port’s Joseph Langer tied the game from Joseph DiMunda at the 9:08 mark.

Gerspach felt his team took control in the second period, outshooting the Lancers, 13-5.

Zak scored the game-winning goal at the 5:52 mark from Beaudet and DiNatale. Zak shot the puck from the high shot into the far post of the net.

DiNatale did not play the third period due to a misconduct. Gerspach said Simon and Torrillo played well in DiNatale’s absence, helping the Panthers hold Lew-Port to three shots.

Poreda made 13 saves for his fourth win of the net.

Gerpsach lauded the play on defense from Eagle and Hudson.

Sweet Home 2012-13 Schedule
12-13 Amherst (NC Feature Rink) 7 p.m.
12-15 West Seneca East (NC Olympic
Rink).................................................. 5 p.m.
12-16 West Seneca West (Buffalo State
College) ........................................ 5:30 p.m.
12-20 North Tonawanda (NC Olympic
Rink).................................................. 9 p.m.
12-22 Grand Island (NC Feature Rink) 3
12-27 Williamsville East Tournament Lancaster (NC Olympic Rink) ............. 1 p.m.
12-28 Williamsville East Tournament Orchard Park (NC Feature Rink) ..... 3 p.m.
1-3 Hamburg (NC Olympic Rink) ..9 p.m.
1-4 Frontier (NC Feature Rink) 8:30 p.m.
1-5 Kenmore West (NC Feature Rink) 3 p.m.
1-12 St. Mary’s of Lancaster (NC Feature
Rink).................................................. 5 p.m.
1-17 Williamsville South (NC Olympic
Rink).................................................. 9 p.m.
1-21 Williamsville North (NC Rink 2) 11 a.m.
1-24 Williamsville East (NC Feature Rink)
7 p.m.
1-30 Bishop Timon-St. Jude (NC Olympic
Rink).................................................. 5 p.m.
2-2 Kenmore East (NC Olympic Rink) . 5

email: pnagy@beenews.com

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