Connor Fields looks to lead Timon on the ice
There has been a lot of hockey talent that has graced the halls of Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School. From the likes of Doug Matteson and Patrick Fisher to Timmy Kennedy and Michael Scheu, Timon has seen its fair share of stars.
You can now add senior Connor Fields to that list.
Fields, a transfer from Williamsville North High School, is not only a standout on the ice, but also on the turf helping the Timon lacrosse team to great heights.
It wasn’t any easy decision for Fields to leave all his friends at Williamsville North, but he did it to help him get noticed for lacrosse and to get a great education.
“It was a real tough decision, actually, because all me friends are there,” said Fields. “I though it would be best for my sports career, because I really wanted to play Division I lacrosse. And I thought this would be the best for me and it fits me perfect.”
Fields recently signed his National Letter of Intent to play Division I lacrosse at Albany, which is amazing considering he could have probably went Division I in hockey.
That’s the kind of player Timon got, and Fields is. The senior led the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation Small Division is scoring with 39 points. His 25 goals were the best between Small and Large Schools.
But, don’t expect Fields to rest on what he did last season. He has already put last year in the rearview mirror and his focus this year is getting Timon their first league title since the 2001-02 season.
“We are constantly reminded of it [losing last year in the finals],” said Field. “It drives us to work harder and harder. We want to be the best and we always remind ourselves of that.”
Fields got off to a great start to the year as he scored five goals and added seven assists in Timon’s 16-0 win over St. Francis as part of the Nichol’s Tournament to open the 2012-13 season.
It was an amazing display as Fields just took control of the game from the opening drop of the puck. As always he tried to deflect the praise and put it on his teammates.
“I have some great linemates, just like last year,” stated Fields. “We are really moving out well out there. Hopefully, I will just have as good a season as last year. And, maybe, this year win the championship.”
Watching Fields on the ice, you see a young man that is in total control of what he is doing. His shot is one of the best in the league, and that may have something to do with that fact he plays lacrosse. With having to work on his underhand shot for his number one sport, it has helped Fields get more control on the ice.
Also, his vision on the ice is second to known as he can pick out teammates at a drop of a hat.
“The underhand shot helps with the hockey shot, obviously,” explained Fields. “It also with your leg strength and your side to side agility. They are two very similar sports.”
Fields has been playing the past couple of years with a lot of extra weight on his shoulders. Colleges have been calling for his services on the lacrosse field. And now that he signed, he hopes the weight has been lifted off and that he can now focus on other things.
“It takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders,” said Fields. “Now, I don’t have to worry about what college to go attend. I can just keep my grades up and focus on sports.”
With winning championships on the lacrosse field, Connor Fields comes with a championship pedigree and the younger kids will look to him for the leadership that they hope will bring Timon its first title in more than 10 years.
Championship or bust for Lancaster Redskins
Expectations are running high in Lancaster as the Redskins aim for the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation championship, and a state title birth.
“Just like any other year, we are going into the season with a positive attitude,” stated Lancaster coach Kevin Miller. “I try not to lean to hard on what I expect from the kids. I just want the kids to perform at their best and hopefully improve as we go.”
Lancaster returns a very senior heavy team that has been through the playoff battles the past four years.
“We have a very senior team this year,” said Miller. “We are hoping those boys carry on the tradition and see what happens.”
One of the returnees is goaltender Justin DiChristopher. DiChrisopher enters his four-year with the program and gives stability between the pipes. He also can steal games for you when need be, which will be important through the season.
“We are looking to have him in net for probably most of the games,” said Miller. “He came out [against Orchard Park] and really kept us in the game. There are going to be games where we are going to be outshot and we are going to need him back there. He is a great kid, hard worker in practice. Hopefully, he blossoms and pushes this team to a level that we haven’t seen yet.”
The will need to have DiChristopher at his best as the division have been remade. Gone are two Large School Division and instead is one division with a new team moving up in Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School.
Timon moving up, and Lockport and Niagara Falls moving down, makes the Large School Division the toughest in Western New York.
“I think it is a good thing for all the schools,” said Miller. “You always want to be playing at the highest level you possibly can. The boys know, and the coaching staff know, that there are no breaks in the schedule. Everybody has to be ready on a nightly basis. I guess if you go into a game and win by double digits you pick up bad habits along the way and there is no room for that this year.”
While Lancaster is an older team, Miller will rely on everybody to contribute and not just one line.
That happened in their 4-3 win over Orchard Park on the opening weekend of WNY Fed. Ten different players got their name on the score sheet and Miller hopes that trend continues. “Last year we graduated a couple of spark plugs up top,” said Miller. “What we have, now, is a pretty good balance with grit and strength. Any night any of our lines can put the puck in the net with hard work. And we are going to need that this year. It’s not like one team can just focus one line or shut down one player. We are hoping to balance things out and kind of be relentless in terms of our attach. And hopefully it will work. Time will tell.”
Lockport gets a chance to compete
It is a new beginning, kind of, for the Lockport High School hockey team.
After years of playing all their games in the Large School Division of the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation, Lockport has been moved down and will compete in the second of two Small School Divisions, which a catch of course.
The catch is they, along with Niagara Falls, will still be competing in the Large School playoffs at the end of the season.
But, at least for now, they will be able to become competitive by playing the likes of Lewiston-Porter, St. Mary’s, St. Francis and West Seneca East. Not saying those teams are going to be easy, but it will be a lot easier then playing Lancaster, Williamsville North, Timon and St. Joe’s.
“We are in a more competitive division,” said Eberhart. “We are playing teams more our level, and it will get them more motivated.”
The Lions, in fact, got a taste of their new surroundings when they took part in the annual Nichols Tournament on Thanksgiving weekend. There they played Nichols, a 7-2, and St. Francis.
They competed hard in both games, trailed Nichols 2-1 with seven minutes left, and escaped with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Red Raiders, where they scored two goals in less than a minute for the victory.
It’s these kinds of games that can give a team confidence and they try to navigate through a crazy high school season.
“I think we are going to be more confident and get more wins,” said Eberhart. And, with that, be more positive. Who knows what could happen when you get to the playoffs. This is really going to help.”
Being competitive night in and night out can also help a young team come playoff time. While they will compete in the small schools, gaining wins down there can only help there chances when they move back up with the big boys in February.
“Win or lose, this team will be fighting to the end,” stated Eberhart. “We are pretty good. They have a good positive feeling about themselves.”
Eberhart will have a very young team on his hands, and will have to replace his son, Ricky, who went on to play at the junior level. He also believes his goaltender is much improved over years past.
“We lost a couple of seniors,” said Eberhart. “We will are three lines deep. We are very good and very deep. Our goaltending is much better this year. Last year we struggled in net. They would take seven shots and we would let in seven goals. So, it was pretty tough. Our defense is pretty solid.”
Growing pains for St. Francis this season
St. Francis High School Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation hockey coach Tom Murphy knew what he was getting into when he took over this season for Craig Fattey, who retired.
He just didn’t think it would start out like this.
Murphy has taken over a very young team as the Red Raiders opened the 2013-14 hockey season with lopsided losses to Aquanis, 8-0, and rival Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, 16-0.
Before dropping a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Lockport and a 5-1 setback to Lewiston-Porter.
“We are young,” said Murphy. ‘We have a lot of guys that are in their first year in the Fed. We only have five returning players, which is highly unusual. Normally, you only replace five players, but we only have five coming back.”
The biggest thing with a young team is confidence. And, when come out of the gate like St. Francis has done, confidence of the young players and the team can take a real hit.
Instead of getting down on themselves, however, Murphy hopes his young team takes some of these hard lessons to heart and builds a foundation that will help them later in the season.
“If you don’t measure yourself, then you can’t improve,” stated Murphy. “I have all the respect in the world for Gene (Overdorf) and his team (Timon) and I wanted them to come at us hard. I don’t think the kids were prepared for this. It’s a work in progress.”
While they take their early season lumps, Murphy knows his team will get better and will be able to compete with some of the smaller schools in the Federation.
“You just have to take it one shift at a time and try to win that shift, and measure yourself against that opponent,” explained Murphy. “Somehow you have to find the motivation to become a better player. We have our work cut out for us, but we are up for it.”
With the team being so young, Murphy will rely on the senior leadership of defenseman Ryan Stefaniak. Stefaniak is the cousin of Cooper, who went on to play hockey and lacrosse at St. Francis, before playing lacrosse in college.
Stefaniak will be looked upon to lead this young team from the bluline, as he is only one of four seniors on the team.
In their loss to Lockport, Stefaniak had a great end-to-end rush and roofed a short past the Lockport goaltender. And, he will be looked upon to do that a little more and provide the much needed leadership to the team.
The JV White team has a record of 5-1 and is currently in second place in the Potter Division of the Southtowns Club League.
The Jr. Prep team has outscored its opponents 46-6 and is currently in first place with a record of 6-1. The Jr. Prep team hopes to continue their strong play as they head to Chicago for a showcase and play a pair of exhibition games at Hamilton College & Cornell University before heading back home for the local JV Christmas Tournament.
The Federation team continues to battle and be competitive behind the strong play of goaltender Grant Maier.
The MPHL schedule shows no mercy as the young Prep team continues its winless streak in league play. After league weekends in Burlington, VT and Pittsburgh, PA the team found themselves losing three games by one goal and continues to build the foundation that will allow them to compete throughout the season. The Red Raiders were able to capture its first win of the season in an overtime shootout at the Barrow Showcase at Upper Canada College. Netminders Ryan Pakulski and Mike Schaefer have been outstanding while Steve Notaro, Zack Matecki, and Tim Biddle anchor the defensive core. Ryan Hornberger, a senior, provides the leadership needed offensively as this team strives to move forward.
The Red Raider program is in the process of putting together another strong modified program for incoming freshman and will begin taking registrations shortly in January for its SFHL program which introduces 6th and 7th graders to St. Francis hockey through skill development and games.
St. Joe’s retooling for another run
Is this the year the St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute hockey team comes back down to earth?
After years of dominating the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation, and New York State in general, the Marauders may have some early season growing pains.
But, even though they lost to Frontier, 4-2, to open their 2013-14 season, don’t count St. Joe’s out just yet.
This team has a lot of young talent that just needs some seasoning in the league.
“We have 13 new faces,” stated St. Joe’s coach Rich Crozier. “It’s going to be a transition for us.
Two our defenseman are playing full season. We feel we have one of the best programs in New
York State. It’s exciting to see some of the kids in our program get the opportunity to play for the Fed team this year.”
Crozier and his team aren’t used to losing a game this early in the season. In fact, last year, St. Joe’s only loss two games the entire year, going 22-2-1 (12-0) en route to the Niagara Cup and Catholic State title.
So, before you right off St. Joe’s for the year, remember they have a pretty good coaching staff led by Crozier and some very good, young talent.
“I will be the first to tell you, nothing has happen to St. Joe’s,” said Crozier. We would love to win every game. But, losing our first game of the season could actually be a good thing.”
The Marauders do enter the season with some question marks, including a big one in net. Gone are Nichols George and Matthew Goss. And in are senior Peter Chopra and junior Benjamin Higgins.
Chopra has the most playing time of any of the goaltenders playing on of the seven club teams the Marauders have.
“We graduated two seniors, who both did a great job for us,” said Crozier. “Benny was our third goalie last year and he saw some limited action. “Peter played on our varsity maroon team last year that made it to Super Sunday. Peter is a veteran goalie and they will battle hard. Like our entire team, we will continue to get better.”
St. Joe’s will rely on a good mixture of veterans and youth when it comes to scoring goals.
Returning players like James Bassett, Dominic Perna and Harlan LoVullo will be looked upon to carry the early load. But players like Matthew Barnaby Jr. will also be counted on to chip in.
“It’s going to be a little bit more of a variety this year,” explained Crozier. “We relied a little bit more on one line. We definitely are going to need scoring from multiple lines. I expect Dom to be amongst the league leaders again this year. He is just a real shifty junior. He just controls the puck and is so hard to knock off the puck. Matthew Barnaby is a little guy that we took as a sophomore. He’s a goal scorer. We are going to get his adjusted to the speed and the size of our league. And don’t be surprised if Matty scores a couple goals this year too.”
The Marauders schedule is a challenging one and one that is highlighted by playing at Frontier Field Saturday, Dec. 21 against McQuaid.
Bishop Timon-St. Jude tries to play down expectations
When you score 16 goals in your first game of the season expectations are going to be high.
Trying to temper those expectations is what Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School hockey coach Gene Overdorf is trying to do.
His team is considered by many to be the class of the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association part of the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation.
The Tigers made it to the Catholic finals before losing a heartbreaker to rival St. Joe’s at the First Niagara Center as part of Super Sunday last season.
This season, the Tigers come in loaded for bear, as they look to win their first championship since Tim Kennedy led the squad to a title back in 2001-02.
“First off, I don’t want them thinking they are one of the best teams in the league,” said Overdorf after a recent game. “Every game is going to be a challenge. We had 22 victories last year, but we might not have 22 victories this year. So, they need to get their minds wrapped around that they need to come to work everyday or we are a very ordinary team.”
It’s pretty easy to see why Overdorf is excited over his team. He returns his top scorer in Connor Fields. Fields led the team in scoring and had a big opening night against St. Francis (to start the season) as he registered 12 points on five goals and seven assists.
His linemate, Joe Piegay, will also be looked upon to light the lamp on a nightly basis.
“We just put that line (Fields, Piegay) together, but that’s not the only line we have,” said Overdorf. “We have a couple more pretty good lines, and we are still missing some guys that are still out. We should go three lines deep.”
On the blueline, the Tigers will be young, but do have some experience. Ryan Byrne, coming off an outstanding football season, will be a steady influence back there as he tries to calm some of the nerves of the younger players until they get their feet wet in the Federation.
“Defense is going to be unproven again,” stated Overdorf. “We have a couple of sophomore back there, and we don’t have a lot of experience back there. They are going to be a work in progress.”
The big unknown on the team will be goaltending, as Callum Knight and Tom Parshall will split time between the pipes. The two will try to replace the talented duo of Bob Milewski (graduation) and Vincent Goodrich (juniors). Those two last season helped the Tigers to a 19-3 record.
While the season is only a couple of games old, Overdorf has supreme confidence they can get the job done.
“I am pleasantly surprised,” said Overdorf. “We had young man transfer in [from Lewiston], and he has been a pleasant surprise. Then we have a freshman, Tom Parshall, who really surprised us. Time will tell, but I think we will be ok.”
The biggest move for the Tigers this season is they have been moved up to the Large Division of the league. Since realignment took place a few years ago, Timon has always been competing in the Small School Division.
Now, they will be playing the like of Orchard Park, Lancaster and Williamsville North. This type of competition should prepare them for the tough Catholic playoffs will encounter.
“We were the only team to get that honor, as far as I know,” said Overdorf about moving up.
“That’s good. We want a challenge. We want to play the best teams. We will be a better team by the end of the year. No matter if we win or lose, the competition will make us better.”
After returning from Batavia, the Tigers return to WNY Federation action when they take on Canisius Sunday, Dec. 15 at the Northtowns Center. Game time is set for 2:20 p.m.
WSE looks to make life tough for opponents
Coming off a six win season a year ago, the West Seneca East High School hockey team is looking to make steady progress as they year unfolds in the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation season.
“We have a young team,” stated West Seneca East coach Dan Goldie. “We might have a up and down year. There will be a learning curve with the kids and with the system that’s put in place.”
West Seneca East didn’t let their nerves show in its opening season win over rival West Seneca West in front of a hostile crowd in West Seneca. It was a game that showed Goldie and his staff what the potential of this team could be.
It could be exciting and cause a lot of problems within the small school playoffs when that time comes in February.
But to get to that point, West Seneca East must get good goaltending. At time last year, the goaltending was shaky and it put the Trojans behind the early in the games. This year, Goldie hopes his goaltending can stand up to the pressure.
“Derrick started late with his hockey career. He stared when he was like a freshman,” said Goldie. Aaron Nowak is returning from last year. I believe our goaltending is solid. I don’t see it as a problem as all.”
What shouldn’t be a problem is scoring goals. The Trojans had no problem lighting the lamp last season, and through a couple of games this season have found the scoring the touch.
“Mike Benaquist is a legit scorer. He has a real feel for the game,” said Goldie. “We have three balanced lines. We just need to crash the net.”
In their win over West Seneca West they were able to put six goals on the defending Federation champs.
Also, the win was a great confidence boost for such a young.
“Huge confidence builder,” stated Goldie. “We got the opening jitters out of the way. It was a hard environment for their first game.”
Aquinas, Irondequoit and Canandaigua were running neck-and-neck in Division II through the opening weeks of the 2013-14 campaign. Penfield and Fairport stood 1-2 in Division I with Pittsford having games-in-hand while Spencerport and Hilton were the early surprises in Division III with two wins each.
Pittsford’s Tim Foster and Greg Weyl with Penfield’s Brian Wall and Jared Kachaylo were scoring leaders in Division I with Penfield goaltender James Krystofik allowing just four goals in his first three games and led all starters with a .911 save percentage.
In Division II, the Little Irish were back led by Jimmy Diliberto and Anthony Depetres ahead of the field trailed by Canandaigua’s Joe Eddinger and Irondequoit’s Anthony Thurston in the early scoring race. The Eagles Daniel Doran and Irish netminder Justin Nevinger were both 3-0 with goals against averages at 1.50 pr better and save percentages above .917.
Spencerport Brandon Corey was setting the early pace in Division III with five goals in three games with Mason Versage and Ryan Webster of Batavia Notre Dame, Brandon Henshaw of Brockport and Ranger teammate Jackson Charron close behind. Ryan Schirano of Spencerport was atop the division goaltenders with Batavia’s James Cryer also off to an impressive start. Hilton sophomore Curtis Acker had a shutout in his first varsity game as a starter and was 2-0.
Jake Gottorff – Aquinas
Connor Rotenberg – Brighton
Ernie Clement – Brighton
Jimmy Diliberto – Aquinas
Anthony Depetres – Aquinas
Brian Wall – Penfield
Brandon Corey – Spencerport
Michael Campbell – McQuaid
Michael Capicotto – McQuaid
Nevinger/Conroy – Aquinas
Curtis Acker – Hilton
Connor Greene – Gates-Chili
Brice Guay – Canandaigua
Meghan Browning – Penfield