Weekly Feature



2016-02-03 / Sports

Kenmore/GI upsets Williamsville in Section VI hockey semifinals

Girls hockey team looking for fifth straight Section VI championship
by LEVI TRIMBLE Reporter


Kenmore/Grand Island forward Abigail Blair works on the penalty kill with out her stick during the second period in the Jan. 28 Section VI quarterfinal win over West Seneca/Hamburg. Blair scored two goals in the semifinal win over Williamsville. 
Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerdePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Kenmore/Grand Island forward Abigail Blair works on the penalty kill with out her stick during the second period in the Jan. 28 Section VI quarterfinal win over West Seneca/Hamburg. Blair scored two goals in the semifinal win over Williamsville. Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerdePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com After years of winning, facing scrutiny that they were a one dimensional team riding on the back of a star goalie, the Kenmore/Grand Island girls federation hockey team showed that their experience in big games was equal to their skill on the ice.

The Kenmore squad, coming into the Section VI playoffs as the fourth seed, were able to upset the top seed Williamsville in the semifinals Monday at Northtown Center thanks to a 7-2 win over West Seneca/Hamburg on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Kenmore earned a 4-1 win on the back of their skilled newcomer Abby Blair and the experienced stick work of fifth-year player Olivia Smith and sixth year player Emily King.

Because of this win, the team is now one game away from a fifth straight Section VI title.

Kenmore coach Jeff Orlowski knew his team needed a big game from its skilled and experienced players.

“I called out the seniors and Olivia Smith since she has been on the team for five years. I told them that this is your game to take over. You guys have to do this. The other girls will have to be there for the ride,” said Orlowski.

Along with Blair, that’s exactly what they did.

Blair scored two goals in the game while Smith and King, who have been a major part of the last four Section VI title-winning teams, each tallied a goal in the game where they played the spoiler.

Blair, an eighth grader from Grand Island, scored on an awkward angle shot late in the first period thanks to a helper from senior defender Grace Simmons. Simmons had been an integral part of the team for many seasons and is one of the top defenders in the league thanks to her experience, vision, passing and positioning skills.

Kenmore took the lead into the second period but Williamsville had an answer as Maggie Fuzak scored early in the second to tie the game.

Williamsville, who played in the finals last season, couldn’t find the back of the net after that despite outshooting Kenmore.

Cara Klopp was outstanding in net, stopping 27 shots to earn the victory and her second playoff victory of her career.

Someone who has plenty of big game and playoff experience, Smith, was able to score the eventual game winner when she scored a power play goal thanks to a pass from King in the opening of the third period.

King would contribute a few minutes later with an unassisted goal.

King got the puck, found open ice and skated to score a breakaway goal that put the momentum solidly in Kenmore’s corner.

The Williamsville squad pulled their goalie in a last ditch effort to salvage their season.

However, Blair was able to score an empty netter to put the game out of reach, sending Kenmore to their fifth straight opportunity to be Section VI champs.

“My girls are just determined. It’s huge. I am ecstatic. It’s a big win for the program,” said Orlowski. “Everyone said we were always Lauren Pray, but they found a way to put us right back into the championship game. When we play good team hockey we are a very good team. But, I am very proud of the way they played [Monday]. They know how to win.”

Kenmore/Grand Island will face Orchard Park/Frontier at 5 p.m. today at the Northtown Center.

OP/Frontier sports a balanced team and strong team defense. Coach Jim McCarthy preaches a hard work ethic system where if you work harder than the other team you will win.

Orlowski knows it will be a test as they face the squad today.

“To be the best you have to beat the best,” said Orlowski. “We have to stick to our game and stick to the hustle and play good team hockey. If we do that we will have a good chance to win on Wednesday.”

email: ltrimble@beenews.com

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