Weekly Feature

2013-03-27 / Sports

League, individual champions represented on First Team

2013 All-Bee Girls Hockey

Coach Rick Hopkins (Williamsville), far left, Rachel Grampp (Williamsville), Julia Duquette (Monsignor Martin Association), Rachel Lenard (Monsignor Martin Association), Missy Mallon (Amherst/Sweet Home) and Lauren Pray (Kenmore) are among the honorees for the inaugural All-Bee Girls Hockey First Team. Erin Gehen (West Seneca) was missing from the photo. 
Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Coach Rick Hopkins (Williamsville), far left, Rachel Grampp (Williamsville), Julia Duquette (Monsignor Martin Association), Rachel Lenard (Monsignor Martin Association), Missy Mallon (Amherst/Sweet Home) and Lauren Pray (Kenmore) are among the honorees for the inaugural All-Bee Girls Hockey First Team. Erin Gehen (West Seneca) was missing from the photo. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Western New York continues to produce some of the best ice hockey players in the state.

With the continued growth of girls teams, the Bee felt it was time to honor the standout players within our coverage area by rolling out the inaugural All-Bee girls hockey team.

These athletes thrilled us this winter with deft stickhandling, thunderous body checks, game-defining hat tricks and top-shelf saves.

Erin Gehen, Forward
West Seneca

Erin Gehen was born with what her coach describes as “unbelievable hands,” which have helped make the dynamo one of the best players in Western New York the last three seasons.

“She can handle a puck and is an incredible shooter. She’s got a knack for scoring,” West Seneca coach Pete Tonsoline said of the junior. “When she steps on the ice — and she plays every sport like this — it’s all out, all the time.”

Also a soccer and lacrosse player, Gehen has been named to the All-Federation First Team every year for hockey since its inception in 2011.

She led the league in scoring each of the last two seasons. Gehen’s 38 goals were tops this winter, and she finished third in assists with 20. Her point total of 58 was 17 points clear of the next closest player. The consistent Gehen tallied 57 points in 2012.

With a fewer number of girls playing for West Seneca’s districtwide squad this season versus other years, Gehen was often on the ice for almost entire games. Her coach points out that among the greatest developments she made as a player was acquiring the ability to adjust to the different goaltenders in the league with a varied attack.

“We didn’t have our greatest season, but we were competitive all year and that was due mostly to Erin,” Tonsoline said. “I can’t say enough good things about her.”

Among Gehen’s many highlights was a seven-goal performance in January against Lancaster. Losing only two seniors to graduation, West Seneca looks to improve next season with Gehen leading the way.

Rachel Lenard, Forward
Msgr. Martin Association

If you’ve ever seen Rachel Lenard play, it will come as no surprise that MMA has won a Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation title each of the last two seasons.

Since the Nardin junior started lacing up her skates for MMA in 2011, her team has gone on to capture championship glory at the conclusion of the winter action.

Lenard tallied 16 goals and 22 assists for 33 points this season on an undefeated 20-0 squad that steamrolled through the competition all winter. Named to the All-Federation First Team the last two years, her point total was good for fourth in the league.

“She’s probably one of the strongest players in the league. She controls the puck,” MMA coach Chris Malicki said. “She goes in the corner and gains control, and she holds it. No one can get it away.”

Malicki said Lenard is such a good passer and believer in getting her teammates involved in the offensive game that, despite having a very strong shot, she sometimes has to be reminded to shoot.

“This past season she really became a leader that girls looked up to,” Malicki said. “Her and Julia (Duquette) took over the locker room, and that was instrumental in us going undefeated.”

Lenard is also a member of the Buffalo Bisons under-19 travel team and plans to play at the collegiate level.

Missy Mallon, Forward
Amherst/Sweet Home

From a wins and losses standpoint, it wasn’t the greatest winter for Amherst/Sweet Home, but that didn’t stop the team from nearly upsetting undefeated champion Monsignor Martin Association in the semifinals of the Federation playoffs.

The main reason why you could throw records out the window where Amherst/Sweet Home was concerned? Missy Mallon.

A three-year starter and member of the All-Federation First Team, Mallon was at the center of everything for a young Amherst/Sweet Home squad. She scored 16 goals, which was tied for fifth in the league. She tallied 22 assists — good for second in the league — and her 38 total points were third best.

“Since the league started three years ago, she’s been the most consistent player in our program. Her effort is never less than 100 percent,” Amherst/Sweet Home coach James Ryan said. “”She’s a great kid and has been a leader that inspires our younger kids.”

Mallon was instrumental in Amherst/Sweet Home registering its first-ever playoff win in the Federation quarterfinal round. In the 3-2 victory over Orchard Park/Frontier, she had a goal and the game-winning assist. In a semifinal game, Mallon recorded an assist as Amherst/Sweet Home lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to eventual champion MMA.

“She plays on our power play, and she plays on our penalty kill,” Ryan said of the field hockey and lacrosse player. “She can go around most kids in the league just with her speed. She always comes up in big spots.”

Julia Duquette, Defenseman
Msgr. Martin Association

Julia Duquette, a senior captain, plays hockey with the mantra “Refuse to Lose” in mind every time she hits the ice.

The two-time All-Federation First Team member was successful in getting her MMA teammates to buy into it as well en route to a perfect 20-0 season that culminated in a second straight Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation title.

“I think she’s one of the best players to ever come out of the league,” Malicki said of Duquette, who is also a member of the Buffalo Bisons under-19 travel team. “The most important part of that is she’s doing it from a defensive position.”

Formerly a forward, Duquette has blossomed on defense since making the transition three seasons ago.

“There was a little resistance in the beginning, but she’s the epitome of maturity,” Malicki said. “The team ran through Julia absolutely 100 percent. That’s been the biggest thing I’ve seen in her improvement as the leader of the team. She’s respected by every girl that comes through that locker room.”

Despite the change in position, Duquette still brings plenty of offense to the ice. She scored 17 goals (tied for third in the league) and had 24 assists (second) for 41 points (second).

Following graduation from Mount Saint Mary, Duquette will play Division III hockey at Plattsburgh State College.

Rachel Grampp, Defenseman

If you live in Rachel Grampp’s neighborhood, chances are you’ve seen the Williamsville South junior working on her stickhandling and slapshot in her driveway, as the hard-worker is always trying to improve her game.

“She’s the player she is because she’s a very good athlete, but she’s also put the time in to be a good hockey player,” said Williamsville coach Rick Hopkins, who was named the All-Bee Coach of the Year.

For Grampp, it was her first season playing for Williamsville as she transferred from Nichols. Though a newcomer to the league, she was a familiar face to the coaches and players as they had been competing against her at various levels over the years.

“Coming into the season, people knew she was going to be one of the best players in the league,”

Hopkins said. “Form held true, and she had a great season.”

A great anticipator, Grampp often could see plays happen before they developed, whether breaking up a rush from another team or leading one out of the Williamsville zone.

Skilled with a thunderous slapshot — which sometimes brings as much fear to her teammates as her opponents — she found the net eight times . Grampp, an assistant captain, also dished out 12 assists for a Williamsville squad that finished second in both Section VI and the Federation.

A member of the Buffalo Bisons under-19 travel team, Grampp plans to play collegiate hockey. In a few weeks, she’ll be heading out to San Jose, Calif., for the National USA hockey tournament.

Lauren Pray, Goaltender

It’s amazing to think that one of the best goaltenders in Western New York still has two more years to play at the high school level, but that’s exactly the case for Lauren Pray.

The sophomore was named to the All-Federation team for the second straight year for a Kenmore team that repeated as Section VI champions. Her .953 save percentage was second in the league as was her 1.17 goals against average. She made 237 total saves and registered two shutouts for a 9-5-1 record.

“She gets better every day. She’s still growing up, but to do all she’s done and just be a sophomore is pretty impressive,” Kenmore coach Jeff Orlowski said. “She carries the numbers and she carries us. She’s the best goalie in the league.”

Orlowski is impressed with all aspects of Pray’s goaltending, especially in the areas of angles and lateral side-to-side movement.

In the sectional title game, Pray made 35 saves in the 2-1 double overtime thriller over Williamsville. In the state tournament loss to Beekmantown, she stopped 43 shots.

Pray, who played boys hockey until the age of 13, comes from a family of hockey players and plans to compete collegiately. She also plays for the elite Buffalo Bisons under-16 travel team.

“She’s our backbone back there. It allows our team to take chances,” Orlowski said. “You know that if you happened to give up a breakaway or an odd-man rush, Lauren’s back there to help you out. That makes you play differently offensively.”

email: ericd@beenews.com

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