Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — For most of the third period, No.2-seeded Kenmore East had plenty of scoring chances to put away No.1-seeded Williamsville East.
Shot after shot, chance after chance, a sense of urgency rose from the Bulldogs' bench, trying to find a way to claw their way back into the game.
But the effort fell short as Will. East senior forward Jason Cohen found the back of the net with just under five minutes to go in the third period to lift the Flames over the Bulldogs, 3-2 for the Western New York Federation championship at the First Niagara Center last night.
It was their second championship in four years.
“We felt we had more speed and a little bit more finesse up front. We felt (Williamsville East) had more strength in physical play,” said Kenmore West coach Kyle Pray. “We felt we had some chances. We missed a couple breakaways which hurt. I think three total for the game.”
Williamsville East scored first on a goal from senior defenseman Mike Mostowy to go up 1-0. But moments later, Kenmore East found itself on the board with a goal from senior forward David Christopher.
The Bulldogs then got a goal from sophomore forward Trevor Pray 23 seconds into the third before the Flames scored two consecutive goals to seal the victory, despite being outshot 33-29.
“Those last six minutes I don’t know,” said Williamsville East coach Mike Torrillo. “I know (the Bulldogs) were trying but I just think we outworked them.”
Defensively, Kenmore East battled to keep Williamsville East shooters outside the slot and allowed sophomore goaltender Luke Stewart to make 27 saves on 29 shots.
“We starting going with Stewart midway through the season and pretty much for the rest of the way” Pray said. “He’s carried us to this point and has saved us many games. I’m sure he’d love to have a couple of those (goals) back but you can’t fault him, they were strong in front of the net. That is the one part where we were worried a bit, where we thought we could lose the game.”
Stewart finished the season with an 8-3-1 record to go along with a 1.34 Goals Against Average.
The Bulldogs lose eight seniors to graduation, including captain David Hazelet and assistant captain Robert McNamara.
McNamara was a key contributor for the Kenmore East offense this season, boasting a stat line of 14 goals, 12 assists and 26 points.
Hazelet finished the season with three goals, six assists and nine points.
But Pray feels there is a blueprint for a successful team next season.
“We do have a solid group of guys coming back and hopefully we will be able to filter a couple guys from the JV program to give us some depth,” Pray said. “We’re looking ahead to the future.”
Kenmore East finishes the season with an overall record of 11-3-3.