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Niagara-Wheatfield's Michael Lotempio carries the puck around the net versus Lockport Saturday afternoon. (Photo by David Yarger)
Niagara-Wheatfield's Michael Lotempio carries the puck around the net versus Lockport Saturday afternoon. (Photo by David Yarger)

HS Hockey: Niagara-Wheatfield cruises past Lockport

Sat, Feb 17th 2018 04:00 pm
Falcons open playoffs with 15 goals
By David Yarger
Tribune Editor
Niagara-Wheatfield is known for being one of the best hockey teams in Western New York. On Saturday at the Northtown Center, Division 3 Lockport saw just how talented the Falcons are.
The Falcons defeated the Lions, 15-0, in the first round of the Section VI large schools playoffs .
The No. 2 seeded Falcons gained the lead quickly, as Nick Breier scored 27 seconds into the game.
Just over a minute later, Chris Cacciatore netted the second N-W goal. Then, in the blink of an eye, Nick Peters extended the lead to 3-0 just 12 seconds after Cacciatore's goal.
Later on, in the first period, Breier netted his second goal of the game and it sent the Falcons into the first period intermission up 4-0.
In the second period, the Falcons netted four more goals from Peter Lysiak, Chace Woods, Peter Buffone and Peters, and they went into the intermission up 8-0.
Scoring didn't stop in the third period, as Chris Tobey and Dom Pulli scored twice. Also, Peters finished up his hat trick with a goal late. Cam King and Owen Hayes also added goals in the rout.
As the final horn sounded, the Falcons moved on to the next round with ease, 15-0.
For the Falcons, along with his hat trick, Peters added six assists, for a whopping 9 points on the day. Along with Peters, Woods added five assists along with his one goal for 6 points in the victory. Other Falcons with two assists included, Breier, Cacciatore, King, Zack Belter, Joel Hocking, Michael Lotempio. Jake Halleen and Caleb Lee also found the scorers sheet with an assist apiece. In all, 15 players recorded a point in the win.
The Falcons said they couldn't take No. 7 Lockport lightly, as the team remembered how No. 2 Orchard Park was upset by No. 7 Niagara Falls in the playoffs last season.
"I think the mindset throughout the locker room was don't underestimate anyone," Peters said. "When it comes to playoffs, every team usually comes out with some heart and they don't wanna end their season just like we don't want to."
Coach Rick Wrazin said, "We definitely reminded them of it. ... We talked about not letting a team hang around, because once they start to believe they can be dangerous. So, we had to come out quick and set the tone early and they did that."
Near mid-season, Wrazin noted the team's lack of scoring. Over the past couple weeks, the team has increased its scoring and the Falcons said they hope this a kick start to keep putting the puck in the net.
"We have the offensive ability and the talent to score goals," Wrazin said. "We do a good job of possessing pucks, we do a good job of getting opportunities, we've just had a tough job finishing. ... I told the boys, 'Sometimes being perfect can be your worst enemy.' ... You're trying to put a four-inch puck in a three-inch hole. Maybe just get it at the net sometimes. ..."
"I think it was good," Belter said. "Some of our guys that don't usually score a lot got on the board. I think we've had some confidence issues too, so it's good to get everyone scoring getting reps in and working the puck around."
Wrazin said he enjoyed the unselfish play of his team versus the Lions, praising his players ability to set one another up, as well as getting back on defense late in the third period when Lockport went in transition offensively.
Next up, the Falcons will battle with the No. 3 Orchard Park Quakers. The Quakers gave the Falcons their first loss early in the season with a 4-3 overtime win. The two teams tied 3-3 in a rematch later in the season. The team looked forward to the rematch but said it's just another bump in the road towards the finals.  
"We're excited," Belter said. "It's just another team that stands in our way. I said in the locker room that you have to approach every game like it's Williamsville North, whether it's Lockport, OP, Clarence or whoever."
Wrazin said, "They've been a tough opponent for us and they always a tough out. ... If we can play the right way and we can possess the pucks in their end and if we can control the game, we think we should win it. The fact that they've been tough for us all year may be a good thing in terms of our kids staying focused and knowing what they need to do."
The Falcons semifinal battle versus Orchard Park will start at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday at the HarborCenter.

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