Weekly Feature



2018-03-14 / Sports

Sweet Home hockey defies the odds, wins program’s first Division II state title

Edholm named Tourney MVP
PATRICK NAGY
Sports Reporter


Sweet Home’s boys hockey team defeated West Seneca West, 7-5, in the first all-Section VI Division II state final Sunday at HarborCenter. It is the Panthers’ first state title in hockey in school history. Team members include from left, first row, Mike Lisman, Liam Kennedy (behind Lisman), Cole Feldmann, Blake Russo, Collin Coogan (behind Feldmann), Eric Abbate, Joe Torrillo, Edward Gould, Alex Farkas, Anthony Genau and Ian Burgess; second row, Kyle Neudorf, Ryan Corrigan, Andrew Czyz, Ryan Edholm, Tyler Edholm, David Gardner, Tyler Turner; third row, assistant coach Brian Turner, Colin Regian, Daniel Lund, Patrick Derisley, assistant coach Rich Beaudet and head coach Dave Gerspach. 
Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Sweet Home’s boys hockey team defeated West Seneca West, 7-5, in the first all-Section VI Division II state final Sunday at HarborCenter. It is the Panthers’ first state title in hockey in school history. Team members include from left, first row, Mike Lisman, Liam Kennedy (behind Lisman), Cole Feldmann, Blake Russo, Collin Coogan (behind Feldmann), Eric Abbate, Joe Torrillo, Edward Gould, Alex Farkas, Anthony Genau and Ian Burgess; second row, Kyle Neudorf, Ryan Corrigan, Andrew Czyz, Ryan Edholm, Tyler Edholm, David Gardner, Tyler Turner; third row, assistant coach Brian Turner, Colin Regian, Daniel Lund, Patrick Derisley, assistant coach Rich Beaudet and head coach Dave Gerspach. Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Sweet Home’s boys hockey team heard all of the talk.

The Panthers played regular season games in Division III, considered the weakest division in Section VI. They backed into the Division II state tournament after losing to West Seneca West in the Section VI Small Schools final but received an at-large bid due to the state only having seven sections that offer small school hockey (need eight teams for state tournament). This year it was Section VI’s turn to get the at-large bid.

Then the Panthers had to win a Far West Regional game in Plattsburgh just to get a chance to play in the state final four.

Well, talk is cheap as Sweet Home defied the odds and scored four power-play goals, including three from Tournament MVP Tyler Edholm, to help the Panthers defeat West Seneca West, 7-5, Sunday at HarborCenter to win the program’s first New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II title.

It is the third year in a row a boys hockey team from Section VI has won a state title. Kenmore East won in Division II in 2016 and Williamsville North won in Division I last year.


Sweet Home’s Tyler Edholm, left, and West Seneca West’s Nolan O’Hara battle for the puck during the Panthers’ 7-5 win Sunday in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II final at HarborCenter. Edholm scored three power-play goals and was named Tournament MVP. 
Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Sweet Home’s Tyler Edholm, left, and West Seneca West’s Nolan O’Hara battle for the puck during the Panthers’ 7-5 win Sunday in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II final at HarborCenter. Edholm scored three power-play goals and was named Tournament MVP. Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com “No one believed that we were the No. 1 team,” said Edholm. “People looked past us and said we were a Division III team. Well, a Division III team just won the state championship.”

“This is a feeling that I never thought I would feel,” junior goalie Mike Lisman said. “Sweet Home is not known for hockey. It was a goal for us going into the season and we achieved it. It’s a storybook ending.”

“It’s like a dream come true,” Sweet Home coach Dave Gerspach said. “I’ve done this for 18 years and dreamed about this day, and it finally happened. It’s a great group of guys, some who I have had for four years. It could not have happened to a better group.”


Sweet Home goalie Michael Lisman makes one of his 35 saves in the Panthers’ 6-4 win over Section III’s Auburn in the Division II state semifinals Saturday at HarborCenter. 
Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Sweet Home goalie Michael Lisman makes one of his 35 saves in the Panthers’ 6-4 win over Section III’s Auburn in the Division II state semifinals Saturday at HarborCenter. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Sweet Home, which lost to West Seneca West, 2-1, in the section final, fell behind 2-0 in the state final before power play goals by Edholm, from junior Colin Regian at 12:08, and from senior Joe Torrillo at 14:16, tied the game at 2-2.

Sweet Home then rattled off four more goals in the second period, including two more with the man advantage.

Torrillo — winner of the Sportsmanship Award for the state final — opened the second period with a power-play goal, assisted by Edholm and Regian at 57 seconds.

Sophomore Blake Russo followed with goal assisted by Neudorf and freshman Eric Abbate at 4:20.

Edholm then scored his third power-play goal of the game, assisted by Neudorf, at 6:51.

Abbate followed from Russo at 11:55 as the Panthers built a commanding 6-3 lead after two.

Neudorf, assisted by Edholm, made it 7-3 at 1:53 of the third period.

Goals by West’s Chase Chodkowski (Jason Wojciechowski) and Jacob Fort (Chodkowski) cut the Panthers’ deficit to 7-5 but the Indians could not get any closer.

Sweet Home won despite getting outshot, 31-21.

“I thought our line matchups were decent, but they exploited us,” West coach Kevin Rozo said. “They got opportunities and finished.”

In addition to Edholm being named to the all-tournament team, Tournament MVP and Second Team All-State, Neudorf, Lisman and senior defenseman Andrew Czyz also earned all-tournament team honors.

The Panthers reached the state final for the first time in school history after downing Auburn of Section III (Syracuse), 6-4, in the Division II state semifinals Saturday at HarborCenter.

The Panthers were outshot 39-23 and outplayed at various times throughout the game, but Lisman was outstanding, making 35 saves, including 16 in the first period, and Edholm scored a hat trick in the third period, to secure the victory.

“I don’t know if we have played a better team than Auburn,” Gerspach said. “They kept coming at us. But our big guys came through. Lisman was fantastic. He’s been our first star since Jan. 1… I told Tyler to play his game in the third period.”

Edholm’s first goal, a power play tally at 13:22 of the third period that was assisted by Torrillo, was his 31st of the season, breaking Alex Esposito’s single-season goal record of 30 set in 2007 and his 58th point, breaking 2008 graduate Ryan Marko’s record of 57.

Edholm finished the season with 36 goals and 29 assists for 65 points.

“It means everything because I know my name will be there for a long time,” Edholm said. “It feels great.”

Edholm’s second goal of the third period came at 8:29 and was assisted by Czyz and Regian. His third goal of the period — and 33rd of the season – was assisted by senior Patrick Derisley and extended the Panthers’ lead to 5-3 at 5:02.

“I’m definitely a leader on this team and I felt like I needed to step up,” Edholm said. “I felt like I was non-existent in the first two periods.”

Auburn came into the game with two explosive offensive players – senior Jacob Morin (77 points) and junior John Malandruccolo III (73 points), but Edholm and Regian shadowed Morin, and Russo and Abbate shadowed Malandruccolo over the first two periods.

Morin tallied an assist in the third period and Malandruccolo was held to a goal in the first period and tallied two assists in the third period. Sweet Home then shifted to a 1-2-2 high trap defense in the third.

“We felt like we couldn’t skate with them for three periods because they were too dangerous,” Gerspach said. “Switching to the trap changed momentum and they turned the puck over a lot.”

“We were not happy with the fact that we had to shadow them, especially because we knew it would take some of our offensive weapons out of the game to cover their guys, and it worked,” Edholm said. “In the third, we switched to a 1-2-2 and it worked for there.”

Auburn had a 5-on-3 power play for 30 seconds with 2:18 left and scored on a 5-on-4 when junior Brendan Williams scored from Malandruccolo at 1:41. It was Williams’ second of the period as he scored at 6:17 from Malandruccolo and senior Jacob Morin.

Auburn had a faceoff in the Sweet Home zone with 24 seconds left, but the Panthers gained controlled of the puck and Abbate scored an empty-net goal, assisted by Czyz, with 9 seconds left.

Russo put the Panthers ahead 1-0 with a short-handed goal at 9:41 of the first period when he took a pass from Abbate and crashed the net.

“I don’t think Russo and Abbate get enough credit,” Gerspach said. “I don’t think they have given up a power-play goal all year and scored eight short-handed goals to get it going. That was huge to get it going.”

Malandruccolo III tied the game at 1-1 with a perfect shot that Lisman did not see and went over his glove at 8:10 of the second period. It was the Maroons’ 20th shot on net.

Auburn appeared to have taken over when sophomore Richard Szakalski III scored from sophomores Hunter Tubbert and Nicholas Pipher at 2:35 of the second but Sweet Home senior defenseman Daniel Lund — recipient of the game’s sportsmanship award — threw a shot at the net that beat Auburn senior goalie Jack Kalabanka for his first of the season with 45.2 seconds left in the period. Torrillo and junior Liam Kennedy earned assists.

“I think they were the better team in the second period and really took it to us,” Gerspach said. “Danny’s goal got us back in the game. Danny said it was his third of his career and I think we were the better team in the third period.”

“I think if we were down 2-1 going into the third period that it is a completely different game,” Lisman said.

Sweet Home finished with a 21-4-1 record. The 21 wins is a single-season school record. Lisman’s 20 wins in net is also a school record.

Seven seniors graduate: Edholm, Torrillo, Czyz, Lund, Derisley, Alex Farkas and David Gardner.

Edholm finished as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 73 goals and 55 assists for 128 points. Czyz finished his career with 24 goals and 71 points, ranking him first among defenseman in Sweet Home history.

“It’s been great to do it with this group of guys,” Gerspach said. “All of them were eight inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter when I started with them four years ago. We have grown up as a family. I have spent more time with them then I have my own daughter the last four or five weeks.”

Return to top