With two games against highly-regarded Victor scheduled over the next two weeks, there’s no better time than now for Batavia Notre Dame United to show that it can compete – and defeat – the elite teams in New York State.
Coach Marc Staley’s squad took a giant step forward this afternoon, playing probably its most complete game of the season, en route to a 7-1 victory over visiting Canandaigua Academy in Section V hockey at the Batavia Ice Arena.
“Actually, I think this whole week – we knew this was going to be a big week with three games in five nights,” Staley said. “So, we set a goal to try to win them all. And, we did that.”
United, winner of four of its last five games (the other was a tie against Williamsville East), raised its record to 9-4-3 with a dominant performance against the Braves, who drop to 4-10-1.
BND got goals from six players as its sharp passing and fast pace resulted in a 46-15 shots on goal advantage.
The home team controlled most of the action and, while not tested as far as quantity of shots, United’s senior goaltender Courtney Schum came up with some sparkling saves before giving way midway through the third period to freshman Frank Falleti Jr.
Falleti returned to the ice for the first time since suffering a leg injury in the team’s opening game.
Jameson Motyka led the way with two goals. Other scorers were Zack Eschberger, Gavin Schrader, Bryce Feldmann, Brady Johnson and Gino Falleti.
United took a 1-0 lead at 9:02 of the first period when Motyka deflected a shot by Noah Hudson past Canandaigua goaltender Charlie Fuller. Schum turned away Alex Chen’s attempt in front of the net to keep the Braves off the board.
Eschberger made it 2-0 just 14 seconds into the second period with an unassisted goal and it stayed that way until Schrader tipped in a shot by Eschberger with 3:22 remaining. Josh Barnes beat Schum to her stick side at the 1:50 mark to cut the lead to 3-1, but BND responded in short order as Motyka converted a pass from Johnson with :23.9 on the clock.
The third period was all United as it outshot Canandaigua, 18-5, scoring on a shorthanded goal by Feldmann at 13:38, and even strength goals by Johnson and Gino Falleti at 11:06 and 10:20, respectively.
“Looking back at this past week, I think we got better every period,” Staley said. “We gave up only 15 shots tonight, which is our lowest total of the year. And I'm really pleased with the way that we're starting to commit in our own defensive zone.”
BND has flexed its muscles on offense all season, but now is starting to put it together on the defensive end as well.
“We know that teams are going to have to score a lot to beat us, but if we can keep teams to one, two, or even three goals, we're going to have a really good chance of winning every night,” Staley added. “But, in terms of a full 51 minute game, I think we played pretty darn well for 48 of those 51 minutes.”
Staley said the development of “a real legitimate third line” with Gino Falleti, Addison Warriner and Ryan Whitcombe is key to the team's success.
“What that does is it gives our top two lines a little more rest so they can play faster,” he said. “We have destroyed teams in the third period this year. We saw this against Greece the other night where we came back, against Williamsville East and we had a really strong third period tonight. When we can run three lines and keep our average shift length under 45 seconds, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Looking ahead, BND hosts Victor at 6 p.m. on Thursday and McQuaid at 6 p.m. on Feb. 1 before traveling to Victor for a 5 o’clock game on Feb. 3. United wraps up the regular season at home against Geneseo/Avon/Livonia for a Senior Night contest at 6 p.m. on Feb. 8.
Sectional competition gets underway on Feb. 15.
Staley said Victor will present United’s toughest tests of the season.
“They’re ranked No. 2 in the state, undefeated going into today’s match against Orchard Park, another unbeaten team,” Staley said. (Orchard Park came out on top in that game by a 3-0 score.)
When asked if his team can knock off Victor, Staley quickly responded in the affirmative.
“Right now, with our team, the way we're playing, I would put this team up against anybody,” he said. “We’re staying out of the penalty box … and we we’re one-for-one on the power play tonight. When you're executing on specialty teams and you're getting some goaltending and you have three lines that you can run up front, that’s a really good recipe for winning hockey games in high school.”
Photos by Howard Owens. Top photo: United goalie Courtney Schum makes the save.
Jameson Motyka, who scored two goals, controls the puck for BND.
BND's Addison Warriner battles for the puck.
Motyka leads the rush down the ice.
A stick goes flying as Canandaigua's Brayden Crouse applies a check.
Battling along the boards.
United's Bryce Feldmann and Schum combine to keep the puck out of the net.
Schum reacts after sweeping the puck away.
Zack Eschberger slips past the Braves' defense to pursue the puck.
Photos by Howard Owens.