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Monsignor Martin edges Kenmore in WNY Girls Ice Hockey Federation Final thriller

by By Charles Roberts
Fri, Feb 27th 2015 12:40 pm
South Buffalo Courier  [ View Original Article ]

It was only fitting that the 2015 WNY Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation Final came right down to the final horn.

With anticipation building for nearly two additional weeks - the game was postponed from its Feb. 13 date due to inclement weather - Monsignor Martin held on for a 1-0 victory over Kenmore on Thursday at Northtown Center at Amherst.

The championship victory is Monsignor Martin's third in four years.

The weight of the trophy and the wait to get her hands on it were certainly worth it for Monsignor Martin head coach Linda Mroz, who in defeating Kenmore, the defending champions, became the first female coach to win the title.

"Heavy. It feels heavy," Mroz said with a smile, referring to the championship trophy that was under her right arm. "It's finally over. But it feels heavy. That two weeks killed us. I've been having anxiety all day - I didn't let the girls know - and I didn't sleep very well last night. But...the bottom line is I just wanted to make sure the girls had fun today."

The seesaw battle remained scoreless through the first two periods, before alternate captain Maeve Christ capitalized on a loose rebound to knock in the game's lone goal at 8:34 in the third. Kaitlin Drew-Mead and Kayla Blas were each credited with an assist on the goal.

"It was pretty amazing," Christ said of scoring the game-winner. "We were in the locker room and we were like, 'We really got to step it up...it's a tie game.' And then we came out right at them and were ready to play. And then we scored that goal, and I knew we were going to win."

Kenmore goaltender Lauren Pray made a game-high 24 saves and certainly has the respect of the Monsignor Martin locker room.

"Lauren is a solid goalie. She can make saves out of nowhere," Mroz said of the Kenmore netminder. "The girls knew that basically the only way to beat her is off of a rebound or a tip. That's how we beat them during the season, and we were lucky enough to have a fluke rebound come out and Maeve Christ was able to pound it home. I mean, 1-0 game - you can't ask for anything more exciting than that."

Meanwhile, Brianna Gawronski stopped each of the 20 shots she faced in net for Monsignor Martin. Her smile extended from one ear to the other in the moments following the shutout victory.

"I was screaming in my mind," Gawronski said, shaking with excitement. "I was like, it always happens where they score right at the end. And I was like it's going to happen to me. I was so happy we scored because I thought it was going to be 0-0 the whole game."

And although Gawronski's enthusiasm was loud and clear afterward, she was cool and collected throughout the contest, particularly when it mattered most - during Kenmore's power play inside the game's final two minutes.

"Goalies are crazy. ...But the crazier she is, the more in the zone I know she's going to play," Mroz said of Gawronski. "But she's such a great kid. ...I knew that Bri had a certain spark when I walked into the locker room today."