Weekly Feature

2017-12-06 / Sports

Kenmore girls hockey team aiming to finish better than it starts


The Kenmore/Grand Island girls hockey team is hoping to get stronger as the season goes on. Last season, the team started slowly, with a 7-0 loss to Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park being the lowlight. However, the team rallied back to win two playoff games and reach the sectional championship yet again, playing close in a 3-2 loss to that same FLOP team.

“We pride ourselves on getting better throughout the season,” Kenmore/Grand Island coach Jeff Orlowski said. “No one will remember the beginning of the season; they remember the last games. We just want to compete and shoot for a sectional title. We just want to work hard and step up. We’re putting in the effort and getting better every day. The girls work hard, they watch video [and] this is a good group of girls. We’re hoping to carry that a long way.”

This year, the team is 0-3 but has played close every time. They lost 3-1 to FLOP, 3-2 to West Seneca/Hamburg/ Eden and 4-2 to Williamsville after an empty net goal. The defense and goaltending have been solid, but the offense has not been able to put the puck in the net much yet.

“We just can’t seem to find the back of the net, and then it seems like we make one mistake and it ends up in the back of the net,” Orlowski said.

The team lost only two players from last year’s squad, but they were two very important players. Olivia Smith is the program’s all-time leading scorer and Hannah Gallivan was a quality scorer.

“They were two of our better players,” Orlowski said. “We’re having a hard time finding a center.”

The team returns goaltender Ellie Simmons who was solid as a seventh-grader last season and has been impressive thus far this season.

“She’s one of the best goalies in the league,” Orlowski said. “She has kept us in every game. Last year she had 42 saves to beat Williamsville North in the playoffs. We key off of her and it starts with the defense. Jenna House, Chloe Moore, Rosie Boyko and Hannah Munley are our key defensemen. They’ll slow the other teams down and we’ll just need to put the puck in the net.

“Ellie has done a great job; she made 44 saves against Williamsville. They’re a very good team and she did great. She gives us a chance to win every game. She holds the score low, so we need to find a way to score for her. We count on her and rely on these seniors. We need girls like Rosie and Nina to lead us.”

The team returned its entire defense this season and that has showed so far. The back end has been solid, but the offense has been snake-bitten and is still finding a way to replace its departed seniors.

“We returned all of our defense and our goalie,” Orlowski said. “It was the offensive players that we lost.

We designed our system around our defense. We’re capitalizing on mistakes.

We’re missing some wide-open nets. We hit the goalie’s mask three times against West. Abby Blair put the puck on the goal line twice and couldn’t put it in. Last year, we started with a 7-0 loss to Orchard Park. Then we got into the sectional final and only lost 3-2.

The forward group features a corps of girls who are looking to step in and fill the holes of the girls that have graduated. They’ll be relied on to create some offense.

“They need to score some goals,” Orlowski said. “They’re all key offensive players and they’re working within themselves. They can make plays when they have the opportunity, and they play well within the system. With our system, when one girl lets down, the whole team falls apart. We play a team game. We all need to do what each player needs to do. We need to play strong defensively and we have goaltending.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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