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Chris Cacciatore of Niagara-Wheatfield takes a shot on goal during Friday night's loss versus Williamsville North. (Photo by David Yarger)
Chris Cacciatore of Niagara-Wheatfield takes a shot on goal during Friday night's loss versus Williamsville North. (Photo by David Yarger)

Niagara-Wheatfield hockey comeback falls short

by yarger
Sat, Dec 15th 2018 12:05 am

Falcons falter in second period; fall to Williamsville North

By David Yarger

Tribune Editor

Friday night, the Niagara-Wheatfield hockey team faced off against their arch-rival Williamsville North in a rematch of last season’s Section VI large schools championship.

A lot has changed since that title game, which the Falcons won, 2-0, but in the rematch at Northtown Center, the Spartans took advantage of a bad second period by N-W to get revenge, 5-3.

Friday was the case where a poorly played five- to 10-minute spell put a damper on the Falcons’ chances at victory.

In a tightly contested first period, North lit the lamp first, as Falcons goalie Peyton Siegmann came out of the net to grab a loose puck, which was eventually stolen and put away by the Spartans’ Ryan Bianchi. The goal was the lone score of the period.

Things unraveled in the early goings of the second period for N-W.

After a Spartans goal to make it 2-0, back to back Falcons penalties within 30 seconds gave North a five-on-three for about a minute and 33 seconds.

North took advantage.

The Spartans scored two goals in 19 seconds, giving them a commanding 4-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, with 9:15 left in the second period, another North goal stretched the lead even further to 5-0.

For the rest of play, the Falcons were able to keep the Spartans off the scoreboard.

The Falcons came out of the locker room rejuvenated in the third period, as Pete Lysiak notched the first N-W goal with 6:41 remaining.

One minute and 59 seconds later, Chris Cacciatore found the back of the net to creep closer.

With some momentum building, Anthony Delisanti found the back of the net 40 seconds later to make it 5-3 and queuing a North timeout.

Despite the comeback effort, the Spartans were able to keep N-W off the board for the final 4:02 and held on, 5-3.

Takeaway the second period and the game could’ve resulted in a Niagara-Wheatfield win, but Falcons coach Rick Wrazin said part of North’s run in the second period resulted in mental mistakes.

“They scored reasonably quick. They got us rattled, and when we got rattled we took a couple dumb penalties. Guys who are leaders on this team got rattled and when that happens the guys that our following feed off of it and they get nervous. It was a collapse. And it wasn’t even the whole period, it was moments throughout the period. They certainly outplayed us for most of the period, but a lot of it went back to penalties and just losing our focus,” Wrazin said.

Despite a defeat, Wrazin was pleased by the effort shown by the team’s comeback attempt in the final period. Additionally, with the team sitting at 4-3 overall (2-3 in Division I), Wrazin added that the team needs to find themselves.  

“We talked about character in the locker room, we talked about not giving up,” Wrazin said. “I think this group is a much better team than they think they are. We got a lot of kids that are squeezing the sticks, a lot of kids that are playing nervous. We certainly have some things to work on that hurt us at times out there, but, overall, if these guys will start being comfortable with who they are as a team and what their roles are, I think they’ll start coming around.

“We have guys that just have to buy in. And we have guys that have to understand what it takes to win these games and we have some guys that have been here and they have to show them the way.

“It was great to see the third period comeback. I’m proud of the way they fought back and hopefully they’ll build off of that.”

The Falcons are back in action Saturday night versus Clarence for the team’s second game in as many nights. Wrazin said the best way to combat the loss Friday night: simply, win.

The Falcons matchup versus Clarence is at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Niagara University.   

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