Weekly Feature



2018-03-08 / Sports

West hockey tops Canandaigua, advances to state semifinal round

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter

In almost any other year, West Seneca West hockey coach Kevin Rozo admits his team might’ve reacted differently when goalie Noah Sobczyk was shaken up by a Canandaigua player about five minutes into the third period of Saturday’s State Small Schools quarterfinal at the HarborCenter.

But instead of seeking revenge in the moment, the Indians’ captains came together on the ice and reminded the squad of what was on the line: a first-ever trip to the state semifinals. That motivation – and subsequent execution to achieve the necessary goals to pull out the victory – ultimately led to a much more satisfying conclusion for the Indians, whose 2-1 victory over the Section V foe punched their return ticket to the HarborCenter for this weekend’s state semifinals.

West will now face Section I’s John Jay at 2:15 p.m. Saturday for the right to Tyler Dunning winds up to fire a shot on Canandaigua’s net during West Seneca West’s 2-1 triumph in Saturday’s state small schools quarterfinal at the HarborCenter. Dunning scored what would be the game-winning goal with time winding down in the third period to put the Indians in the state semifinal round for the first time in program history. Photo by Don DalyPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Tyler Dunning winds up to fire a shot on Canandaigua’s net during West Seneca West’s 2-1 triumph in Saturday’s state small schools quarterfinal at the HarborCenter. Dunning scored what would be the game-winning goal with time winding down in the third period to put the Indians in the state semifinal round for the first time in program history. Photo by Don DalyPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com play in the final. The other semifinal pits Section III’s Auburn against Sweet Home – the team the Indians defeated on Feb. 26 to claim their second sectional title in program history.

“I think it’s easy to say at the start of the year, when regionals and states are far off in the distance, that anything beyond a sectional title is a bonus, but once you’re in the middle of that hunt your goals change pretty quickly,” Rozo said.

Play was fairly even for a good portion of the first two periods, with Canandaigua taking its only lead of the game off a tough angled shot fired just after a 5-on-3 power play for Canandaigua had expired. Sobczyk continued to stand on his head for West up through – and after – he was roughed up by a Canandaigua player leaving West’s zone, and finally got the support he needed on the scoreboard when Parker Leemer connected on the tying goal a couple of minutes later.

Matt Myers then set up Tyler Dunning for what would be the game-winning goal about two-thirds of the way through the final frame.

“We did a nice job of protecting the lead once we got it, keeping them bottled up in their zone most of the time,” Rozo said. “But, honestly, the way the guys reacted to Noah getting hurt was probably the real turning point of the game. In the past, we might’ve had five guys jumping on the kid who did it, but the captains just came together and reminded everyone that we can’t get stupid – and that the best payback would be to score a couple of goals for Noah, which we did. I was really proud of the entire group for that.

“The kids have been great with Noah all year long, and Noah’s been absolutely terrific for us,” Rozo continued. “He’s been a huge reason why we’ve been doing what we have for the last month or so.”

Whether West’s ride ends with one more game or two, and whether or not it comes with championship hardware, remains to be seen, but Rozo was confident that come Saturday at the HarborCenter, his squad would be ready to face its next challenge.

“We’ve got some film and some stats on them, but we haven’t really had the time yet to do much with that stuff,” Rozo said on Monday. “I’m confident, with three practices before the game to keep sharp, that we’ll put the pieces together. At this point, as much as we want to know what we’re going to face from John Jay, it’s more important to have our focus be on ourselves.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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