Niagara-Wheatfield to much for Niagara Falls, plays Lancaster in semifinals on Monday
Down a man, N-W scored two goals just 15 seconds apart that propelled the Falcons to a 6-1 win over Niagara Falls in a Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation quarterfinal on Saturday at the Northtown Center.
"That was definitely big for us," Falcons coach Rich Wrazin said. "It's a shame when shorthanded is your strength. There's definitely some things we need to crack down on to get better."
It may not have been a thing of beauty. But a win is always big at this time of year.
“It’s a playoff game so we all came to play,” senior captain Anthony Veckich said. “We had some good shorts, good passing. All the lines came out playing pretty well.”
As he's done so many times this year, Veckich stepped up when his team needed most. N-W led 1-0 midway through the first when Adriano Medici received a double-minor for hooking and then unsportsmanlike conduct.
It didn't take long for the Wolverines' power play to turn into the Veckich Show. First he started a 2-on-1 rush and found Frank Vecchio for a shorthanded tally. Then Veckich stole the puck again and scored unassisted for a 3-0 lead.
"We were just trying to play aggressive on it," he said. "It ended up working out for us."
Veckich finished with two goals and an assist and Vecchio also scored twice. Alex Bauer and Justin Durkee also scored for the Falcons, who outshot Niagara Falls 48-13. The Wolverines lone goal was scored by Richard Rinallo.
This propels N-W into a semifinal contest on Monday against Lancaster. The Redskins were the top ranked team in Western New York until they were hit by a slew of injuries, most notably a shoulder injury to standout Manny Manns. He's back now and scored four times on Friday night to lead Lancaster to a 5-4 win over Williamsville North in another quarterfinal.
Without Manns in the lineup for Lancaster, N-W posted a 3-1 win over the Redskins on Jan. 30.
"That one's going to be real physical; that'll be a real tight game," Wrazin said. "They're going to come at us hard. We know how they play; they have one of the best players in the league. We're going to have our work cut out for us, but as long as we do all the things we're supposed to do, I think we'll be OK."