A victory over Pittsford tonight would give Batavia Notre Dame a psychological lift through Christmas and snap a long Section V hockey drought against the suburban Rochester school.
“This is a very important game for us, psychologically, as it can get us to 6-2 heading into next week's tournament at the (LECOM) Harborcenter in Buffalo, and knowing that a Batavia team hasn’t beaten Pittsford since, I think, 1994,” Head Coach Marc Staley said this afternoon.
The game is set for 6 o’clock at the Batavia Ice Arena on Evans Street.
The Batavia Blue Devils were unable to defeat a Pittsford club when they met regularly in Monroe County League competition over the past three decades and, last year, Notre Dame dropped a 5-3 decision to the Panthers in the first round of the sectionals.
Batavia and Notre Dame combined forces prior to this season as "BND United" and has won five of its first seven contests. Pittsford is 3-3-1 but the record doesn’t indicate the overall strength of this year’s Panthers’ team, Staley said.
“This looks to be a dead-even game,” he said. “They have played against some very strong teams – Fairport, Massena and Penfield – and play a similar style to ours.”
On paper, United has more offensive firepower than Pittsford with five players in the top 10 in scoring among the six Independent teams. BND has scored 47 goals and given up 25 while Pittsford has scored 22 and allowed 22.
Senior Gavin Schrader is No. 1 in points with 13 goals and 14 assists, freshman Jameson Motyka and junior Ronin Hofmaster each have six goals and 11 assists, senior Vin DiRisio has nine goals and seven assists, and freshman Brady Johnson has seven goals and eight assists.
BND goaltender Courtney Schum has a 3.53 goals against average in her seven games.
The Panthers have three players with five goals apiece – senior Aidan McGrain, junior Lucas Procious and sophomore Henok Hankinson, while junior Will Masaschi has four goals and nine assists. Goalie Aden Brown has a 2.96 GAA.
Staley said both teams have solid power play units and it could come down to which team stays out of the penalty box.
“The team showing the most discipline likely will come out on top,” he said. “It shapes up to be a close game.”