Weekly Feature



2017-12-07 / Sports

West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden tops Kenmore/GI in girls hockey play

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter

Wins were hard to come by for the combined West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden girls hockey team last winter, which is why the team’s 3-2 victory over Kenmore/Grand Island so early in the 2017-18 season was such a cause for celebration.

Senior captain Emma O’Neill, a defenseman from Hamburg who can also play forward, scored twice for the victors on Nov. 28. Eden’s Carleigh Sutfin chipped in with the game-winning goal, while junior goalie Adriana Harmon, an Eden student, had 31 saves in net.

O’Neill also had two goals during the team’s 7-3 loss to Williamsville on Friday, while Eden freshman Lauryn Brown had 34 saves against Williamsville in a 2-0 loss on Nov. 20.

“Our team seems to bonding as a unit, which is good,” coach Brian Hillery said. “Last year we had a lot of seniors and young players, but this year Emma is our only senior so the group is collectively much closer in age. I think that has led to a more vocal locker room and better relationships on and off the ice.”

O’Neill is the perfect example for the team’s younger players to emulate. The two-way defenseman with a solid shot and a knack for skating has four goals in three games, which has Hillery predicting that she “will be one of the best overall players in the Girls Federation League this year.”

The team’s other returning assistant captains, senior Nicole Harris from East, junior Kaitlyn Morris from West, and freshman Emma Cooper from Eden, will also play important roles for a squad looking to improve on its last-place finish from last year. Harris is a stay-at-home defenseman who is “very intelligent and strong on the puck,” Hillery said, while Morris is a “gritty forward who doesn’t back down from contact or from going hard to the net.” Cooper, meanwhile, can also play forward or defense thanks to her skating ability and innate hockey sense.

Brown and Harmon could find themselves in a season-long battle for starting time between the pipes, Hillery said, as he called his netminders “one A and B” despite their different styles in net.

West Middle eighth grader Sarah Waszkielewicz, meanwhile, is a “smooth two-way defenseman with a very bright future,” according to Hillery. Waszkielewicz, who is tall for her age, has already logged significant playing time on both special-teams units.

“Our goaltending should definitely be our strength this year,” Hillery said. “We’ve also got some depth this year, which is something we haven’t had in the recent past. I’m just hoping we can also get some consistent offensive production out of our top line as the season progresses.”

West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden does not play again until it travels to the Northtown Center Wednesday to face Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home.

“We don’t want to look too far ahead, but I truly believe we can be a contender in the playoffs and compete to have a legitimate chance at playing for a championship,” Hillery said.

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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