Weekly Feature



2015-02-26 / Sports

West hockey tops Panthers, falls to Ken East in playoffs

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter


West Seneca West’s Zak Klinko, second from right, skates past Sweet Home’s Jeffrey Czyz and toward the goal during Indians’ 6-2 win in Friday’s Western New York Federation Small School prequarterfinal at the Northtowns Center. 
Photo by Karen GioiaPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com West Seneca West’s Zak Klinko, second from right, skates past Sweet Home’s Jeffrey Czyz and toward the goal during Indians’ 6-2 win in Friday’s Western New York Federation Small School prequarterfinal at the Northtowns Center. Photo by Karen GioiaPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com West Seneca West’s hockey team made sure to have last season’s winless postseason appearance go down as a fluke Friday when it topped Sweet Home, 6-2, to resume its pattern of winning at least one Western New York Federation Small Schools playoff game in each of the seven seasons since joining the Fed.

Adam Tobias set the tone for West by scoring just a couple of minutes into the contest, and the Indians used that early momentum to close out the first period with a 3-0 lead. West never led by fewer than three goals from that point on as coach Kevin Rozo said that his team “used our experience, our speed and our size to our advantage” to “pretty much control most of the way.”

“Especially after not winning one last year, we said going into this game that we really wanted to win at least one playoff game to get back to that pattern that we started when we joined the Fed all those years ago,” Rozo said. “But, we know that winning a playoff game is never easy, no matter what. Everyone’s season is on the line, so getting out to that real good start and maintaining it throughout the game was a nice confidence builder for us. It was definitely nice to not go two years in a row without a playoff win.”

Zak Klinko led the way for West with three goals, while Quinn Finnegan and Alex Hummell added the other tallies for the Indians, who weren’t as fortunate in Sunday’s quarterfinal-round clash with Kenmore East.

The Bulldogs struck even faster than West did against Sweet Home, taking a 1-0 lead a mere 15 seconds into the game. East scored again a couple of minutes later to take a 2-0 lead, but West settled down from that point on to prevent the Bulldogs from adding another tally before the end of the period.

West cut its deficit in half in the second period when East’s goalie — with the puck beneath him — was pushed over the goal line during a scrum in front of the net, but East managed to snatch momentum back away from the Indians on a breakdown 11 minutes into the period to take a 3-1 lead.

“That third goal hurt for sure,” Rozo conceded. “We would’ve been in good shape if we had entered the third period with it still a 2-1 game. But, after they scored their third goal, it kind of gave them the momentum they needed to come out for the third period and add two more quick ones.

“Our second line was absolutely flying in the second period, just cycling the puck beautifully, but we couldn’t get the equalizer,” Rozo continued. “We had all of the momentum in the first 11 minutes of the period.”

West’s second goal — which was scored by Anthony Amoia — came with about five minutes to play in regulation, but Rozo admitted it was “too little, too late by then.”

West loses 10 seniors to graduation — some of whom have been with the varsity team for three or four years — off a squad that finished 9-10-3 overall.

“I told the kids after the game that this was one of hardest working groups we’ve ever had, and certainly the most fun to be around too” Rozo said. “It really is a shame that we aren’t able to play together a little longer. The boys definitely have nothing to hang their heads on.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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