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Live from Federation hockey finals: Amherst, Will North, Canisius are champions

We are moments away from faceoff for the first of three Fed championship games which will conclude the seven-game Super Sunday extravaganza.

Larry Ott covered the four club games so don't forget to check out his story in Monday's paper.

The first Fed final will be the Small Schools championship between town rivals Amherst and Sweet Home. Defending Large Schools champion Niagara-Wheatfield plays Williamsville North in a rematch of last year's final at 6 p.m. At 8 p.m., defending Catholic champion Canisius faces St. Francis.

Small school (Division II) final: No. 5 Sweet Home vs. No. 7 Amherst

In a bracket that many coaches said would be wide open, the Small Schools final involves No. 5 seed Sweet Home and seventh-seeded Amherst, which beat the top two seeds in the bracket, Kenmore East and Williamsville South -- both of whom played for the Fed title last year -- in overtime en route to its first title game in its 20 years in the Federation.

Sweet Home won the Small Schools title two years ago and is a two-time state tournament participant.

Interesting back story for this game, it wasn't too long ago where both programs' only chance of earning victories during the seasons came whenever they played each other.

"Everyone used to mop us up in the league," said Sweet Home coach Dave Gerspach, who took over the Panthers' program seven years ago. "I think about six years ago they had one win and a tie and we had a tie."

The teams are lining up for pre-game introductions. We'll be back with an update for the first period.

First period: Amherst scored the only goal of the period with 4:28 left off a faceoff to the right of Sweet Home goalie Chris Koester. Alex May stuffed in a loose puck near the crease after fanning on a shot. David Quigley and T.J. Kaszubski got the assists.

Amherst held 10-5 shots advantage although the play by each team was pretty even.

Second period: Amherst's Kaszubski made it 2-0 with a nice hustle play off a faceoff to left of Sweet Home net with 8:32 left. He fired a shot on goal off the draw and beat two Panthers to the loose puck and poked it in.

Amherst failed to turn a late power play into a three-goal lead as Sweet Home's Matthew Beaudet fired in the rebound of his own shot during a one-on-one rush after a teammate tied up an Amherst defenseman while battling for the puck along the wall near the Sweet Home blue line.

Until that goal, Amherst seemed to be on verge of taking control as its trapping defense has prevented the Panthers from getting loose offensively. Tigers have 21-15 edge in shots through two periods. They could be up by at least two goals if not for some nice saves in the period by Sweet Home goalie Koester, who made a breakaway stop on Chris Farmelo.

Third period: Amherst's David Pohlman got drilled near center ice with a clean hit but teammate Kyle Dains picked up the loose puck and scored on a 2-on-1 rush for what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Tigers' 3-2 win over Sweet Home.

While Team USA didn't produce another on-ice miracle, what once seemed like an impossible dream has come true for the Amherst hockey program.

Time to do the post-game show. Be back soon.

Large school (Division I) final: No. 1 Williamsville North vs. No. 2 Niagara-Wheatfield

First period: Jake Rosen scores twice in span of 2:03 to give Williamsville North a 2-0 lead over defending champion Niagara-Wheatfield.

Rosen scored his first one on rush down right wing. He added his second by one-timing a feed from Jeff McAndrews past a helpless Vinny Merante after a Matt Clifford hit on a Falcon on the breakout produced the quick turnover.

North leads at the intermission, 2-0. North held edge in shots, 13-5. Niagara-Wheatfield's best chance off a 2-on-1 rush Dave Evert was denied by a nice pad save by North goalie Parker Gahagen on the quick one-timer.

Second period: No scoring in this period with North holding a 21-12 edge in shots. N-W played much better in this period.Two-goal lead, most dangerous lead in hockey. Let's see what happens.

Third period: No scoring, which is a good thing for North. Spartans win, 2-0, for their first Fed playoff title since 2005 and fifth overall.

Jake Rosen, who battled through a sinus infection, is named MVP. Goalie Parker Gahagen finishes with 21 saves, while N-W counterpart Vinny Merante had 28. The loss is only the Falcons' second in 12 games.

Catholic final: No. 1 Canisius vs. No. 3 St. Francis

Canisius is the defending Fed and State Catholic champion, while St. Francis won four titles under John Bowers before the formation of the Prep Team he currently coaches. This Red Raiders team is kind of like the Prep Team's farm club.

Coach Craig Fattey's St. Francis crew reached the final by shocking No. 2 St. Joe's in last Monday's semifinals.

The Crusaders are sitting pretty with 12:20 left in regulation, leading 3-0. Paul Steinig and Sean McHugh scored first-period goals, while Alex Barilec added a short-handed tally early in the second period.

Canisius makes it 4-0 as Colin Burns pounces on rebound of Dimitrios Koutsmitis' shot from the slot with 9:59 left.

That's a final, 4-0, Canisius. Dylan Arnold gets the shutout.

Crusaders will play for second straight state Catholic title Sunday against the New York City Archdiocese champion in Mount Vernon.

---Miguel Rodriguez

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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