Clarence stays hot in beating injury-riddled Lancaster
In recent weeks, the Clarence High School hockey team has put things together and been on a roll in Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation play. Large school rival Lancaster found that out the hard way on Thursday (Jan. 25) night.
The Red Devils scored early and often and posted an impressive 6-1 win over the injury-depleted Redskins at the Northtown Center.
Clarence improved to 6-3 against fellow large schools and moved into a second-place tie with Frontier in Division I. Both are just one point behind first-place Lancaster, which has been on a slide ever since opening the season so hot.
“That was a big game for us,” said Clarence forward Matt Colicchia, who scored a hat-trick in the victory. “We needed that game and to win it 6-1, that was real nice. We’re playing our best right now; it’s nice to be doing that heading into the playoffs.”
The Colicchia-Josh Owczarzk-Tristan Dreschner line was dazzling for the Red Devils, combining for eight points. Owczarzk added a goal and two assists and Dreschner picked up a pair of helpers.
The win was the fifth straight in Fed action for the Red Devils. Their most recent loss was a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Lancaster on Jan. 5. Clarence was determined to get that right this time around.
“They were the better team that day; they worked harder than us,” Clarence coach Richard Brooks said. “So we knew what we had to do come in here, and I thought we executed well.”
They sure did. The Red Devils got on the board a little more than four minutes into the game on defenseman Alex Kinney’s slap shot from the point and Max Herud made it 2-0 less than a minute later.
Lancaster had an answer when sophomore Austin Gallagher scored less than a minute after Herud’s tally. The Redskins had a chance to tie on a power play, but instead came the backbreaker.
Owczarzk collected a turnover near the Clarence blue line and put a shot on net, and Colicchia swooped in for the rebound and shorthanded goal. The Red Devils never looked back after that.
“Matt Colicchia’s shorthanded goal was huge,” Brooks said. “That really hurts a team when you’re able to do that to them.”
It was fitting that the biggest goal came on the penalty-kill for Clarence, considering the Redskins were 0-for-7 with the extra man in the contest.
“We had to play well there because we were in the downside of the penalty situation,” Brooks said. “But you know it happens, sometimes. The kids are hyped up; they want to go that extra mile and that converts into some calls.”
The Redskins power play — much like the entire team — was hampered by the injury bug. Lancaster played without forwards Manny Manns and Ryan Haines, as well as defenseman Matt Molnar and Cole Brooks.
But Redskins’ coach Kevin Miller made no excuses after the game and instead gave the credit to the Red Devils.
“Clarence is a great team, one of the best teams in the league,” he said. “I give them a lot of credit. They have good players, good coaches. They’re playing really well.”