Explosive second period, strong goaltending helps Sweet Home past Kenmore East
With Poreda racing out of the net during a delayed penalty, Panthers defenseman Emerson Eagle worked the puck from the back wall, made a move toward the red line and fired a wrist shot – from a seemingly impossible angle – behind Bulldogs goaltender Trevor Taggart, off the far post and to the back of the net, making it 1-0 at the 10:34 mark of the second period.
And then came the Randy DiNatale show.
Forward Connor Beaudet fed DiNatale, who made a quick move – tricking Taggart into thinking he was going to shoot low – before riffling the puck upstairs, making it 2-0 less than two minutes after the first goal. At the 14:20 mark, DiNitale again beat Taggart – who finished with 20 saves – toward the top of the net, this time making a sharp cut in front and switching to the backhand, giving the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
“I saw some open ice and took advantage of it,” DiNitale said. “. …That team was hard to beat, though. We tied them 1-1 already, so we knew it was going to be hard. And for me, I’m a senior and we lost to them two years in a row in the playoffs, so it was big.”
The lone Bulldogs goal came at the third period’s 11-minute mark, at which point forward Jeff White blasted a one-timer from forward Ryan Wigdorski past Poreda, who picked up 17 of his 41 saves in the final session.
“Defensively, I thought we did a good job, because we kept most of the shots to the outside,” Poreda said. “We were able to take away the second chances, control the rebound and the defense cleared the front of the net.”
The Panthers advance to the semifinals – against an opponent to be determined – Tuesday evening at the Northtowns Center at Amherst.
Freelance sportswriter Charles Roberts covers the WNY Varsity Hockey Federation for MetroWNY.com. Reach him at ChRobert3@aol.com or on Twitter: @cHartleyRoberts.