Niagara-Wheatfield repeats as champions with win over Clarence
"First off congratulations," Wrazin said."Back-to-back championships boys, nice job!"
Sophomore Domenic Senese (five points) turned in an MVP performance and goalie Nate Sommers made 32 saves as Niagara-Wheatfield scored a stunning 7-2 win over Clarence in the Section VI Division I championship game that kicked off Super Monday triple header that was held at the First Niagara Center on Monday.
"We wanted to repeat but we had to go out there and do it again," goalie Nate Sommers said."We worked hard as a team and we won."
The Falcons, who were large school champions last year, now advance to the state quarterfinals that will be played at the Northtowns Center on Saturday.
Though the defending champions, the Falcons were seen by most observers as the underdog as Clarence was the top ranked public school coming into the post season.
But, as the saying goes, the game isn't played on paper. The Falcons struck early as Senese set up Frank Vecchio (two assists) for the opening goal.
Clarence would respond quickly as a goal by Matt Colicchia tied it up at 1-1.
It was all Niagara-Wheatfield from that point as the Falcons blazed to a 4-1 lead on goals by Justin Durkee, Anthony Merante and Domenic Senese who scored the first of his three goals late in the period.
"I was just focused in on winning the game for the seniors," Senese said. "He played great," Nate Sommers said of Senese."He helped out a ton. Three goals, two assists. That was a great game out of him we needed that."
When the puck dropped for the second period the Falcons maintained the tempo as the kept bringing wave after wave of offensive pressure that resulted in three goals in less than three minutes.
"That's what we told them coming in," Coach Wrazin said."We said if you get the momentum, you get a little bit of a lead you've gotta keep your foot on the gas. You gotta keep coming at 'em. If you let up you're going to give them a window. They're a very good team. We saw them come back against Frontier a week ago after being down by two. We knew they would keep coming, they're hard working and a gritty team. So we didn't want to take anything for granted."
Forward Matt Paonessa extended the lead to 5-1 when he beat Clarence goalie Devin Paluh glove side on a rebound off a shot defensman Jeffery Janese took from the point.
Senese scored the first of back-to-back power play goals when he shoveled the puck to the front of the net and it went into off the stick of a Clarence defender.
Senese, who also assisted on Merante's goal, potted his third tally of the night when he took a pass from his left side and slid the puck just inside the post to give Wheatfield the 7-1 lead.
Mark Armstrong scored for Clarence with 3:50 left in the game but it was too little, too late as the Red Devils simply could not pull themselves out of the three-goal hole they fell into.
Clarence coach Richard Brooks thinks his team may have been a bit taken back by the atmosphere of Super Monday and playing in an NHL rink.
"They were able to hop out front. It seemed like everything was going in the net. A bounce here, a bounce there and all of a sudden we're down 4-to-1," Brooks said. "We come out in the second period and try to make something happen, but we couldn't turn it around."
Stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced Nate Sommers came up big when his team needed him as he made several key stops that prevented the Red Devils from clawing back into the game and gaining any momentum.
"Nate's been strong for us all year long," Wrazin said. "We happen to have a strong goaltending staff and Nate kind of took the job (of No.1) over and he's been strong all year. You wouldn't think that a 7-2 score that the shots on net were what the were, but he made a lot of big stops. Positionally he was solid and made a lot of stops look routine, too."