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ESG Day Three: Western softball, girls hockey win gold; golden sweep for volleyball

Hello from Day Three of the Empire State Games, where I'll keep you updated with some action early in the day along with my travels.

12:50 p.m. Western softball will play Long Island for the gold -- but the game has been moved up from 3 p.m. to 1:30 at the Audubon Recreation Complex due to poor weather forecast for this evening.

In baseball, the games have been moved up as well. The bronze medal game will start immediately after the 1 p.m. game between Western and Central; with the gold medal game (originally scheduled for 7 p.m.) starting immediately after the bronze.

If Western wins, it plays for gold; if not I believe they are headed for the bronze game. 

It's a good move by Games officials because of the poor forecast later in the day, when showers are supposed to move in.

12:55 p.m. The Western women's hockey team beat Adirondack, 7-0, this morning and will playing for an undefeated round-robin record and a gold medal when it faces Long Island at 6:30 p.m. at Audubon.

Long Island is also undefeated, although it has two wins and two ties. Western is 4-0. By points, I think LI could win the gold on a tiebreaker if it beat Western because it would have beaten them head-to-head. No matter what, it should be a great finishing game.

3:34 p.m. After a lot of running around, some big news.

WESTERN SOFTBALL WINS THE GOLD MEDAL with a 3-0 victory over Long Island. Lindsay (Garbacz) Morris pitched the shutout while Michelle Fridey had a two-out, two-run single in the top of the seventh for some big insurance runs. I'll have video posted soon hopefully.

Western baseball, however, will play for bronze after falling to Central, 2-1, in eight innings.

6:32 p.m. We're back after a stop in the media center and some major coordinating with our ESG team -- we're at Alumni Arena for the finales in volleyball.

7 p.m. WESTERN WOMEN'S OPEN VOLLEYBALL WINS THE GOLD, beating Central in four games. It's the first of four finals in which Western can win gold. Western won, 25-23, 22-25, 25-19, 25-14. In the fourth game, Western was just too much for a Central team that seemed to run out of gas.

7:19 p.m. Make it two-for-two for Western. MEN'S SCHOLASTIC VOLLEYBALL HAS WON GOLD. It won the first game in a marathon but didn't have as much drama in the next two in a 30-28, 25-18, 25-20 victory over Long Island.

A report from photographer Jim McCoy, who I couldn't hear too well on the phone: Western and Long Island are tied in the final women's hockey game.

7:38 p.m. The women's scholastic final has just started as top-seeded Western takes on Long Island. The men's open final follows with Western, the second seed entering today's playoff round, meeting Adirondack.

8:10 p.m. Long Island making an early statement in the women's scholastic game. LI took the first game, 27-25, and went up, 9-1, to start the second. Only twice in the history of Games volleyball, which goes back to the first Games in 1978, has a region other than Western or Long Island won the gold, and it hasn't happened in 28 years (Hudson Valley won 1980 and 82).

8:24 p.m. The second-longest team gold-medal streak is definitely in jeopardy -- Long Island won the second game, 25-16. Western has won seven straight golds.

8:30 p.m. Word passed along from a friendly media coworker. WESTERN WOMEN'S HOCKEY HAS WON GOLD after scoring two late goals against Long Island.

8:48 p.m. Things are tightening up here -- Western wins the third game, 25-18, to cut the Long Island lead to 2-1. One important thing to note: If Long Island wins this match, there is an additional game to determine the gold because Long Island came out of the loser's bracket of today's playoffs.

9:08 p.m. Western has tied it up. Great effort to even things up at 2-2 with a 25-14 victory in which Western was in control from the start.

9:24 p.m. Western got off to a 5-1 start before the match was delayed at least five minutes, maybe 10, when Long Island protested a call. A committee was formed, a player had to sign a paper, I couldn't believe it. It was like filing an accident report with the cops. Western keeps rolling -- it is up, 10-3, in a game that will go to 15.

9:32 p.m. WESTERN WOMEN'S SCHOLASTIC VOLLEYBALL HAS WON GOLD. The home team lived up to their sing-song-ing with a 15-10 victory in the fifth and deciding game. Quite a comeback for Western. Fun stuff to watch, as it always is here on ESG Saturday.

10:59 p.m. Back from interviews and writing my story for first edition -- without the men's open game. Talk about some serious hitting in this one. Whoa. Western won the first game, 25-21, and the second, 25-22.

11:22 p.m. WESTERN MEN'S OPEN VOLLEYBALL HAS WON GOLD after a 25-21, 25-22, 25-14 victory over Adirondack. 

The victory gives Western a sweep of the volleyball medals for the first time since it accomplished the feat in 2002. Western also won all four in 1993.

12:20 a.m. Back at the media center after redoing the end to the volleyball story. Found out that astoundingly the women's open basketball had a four-way tie for first place and that Western will play for gold after winning some sort of a mini-game. Wow.

See you tomorrow for end of the Games.

---Keith McShea

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.

Continue reading "Live from Federation hockey finals: Amherst, Will North, Canisius are champions" »

Live from the Federation hockey Division II semifinals: Amherst stuns way into Super Sunday vs. Sweet Home

We're finally up and running. Some technically difficulties here tonight in the Amherst Center.

The first of two Small School semifinals features top seed and defending champion Kenmore East against first-time semifinalist and original eight Fed member Amherst, the No. 7 seed.

First Period

Scoreless through one although Amherst will be on the power play for 53 seconds when the second period begins.

Amherst goalie Sean Smith made some nice saves, especially late with the Bulldogs buzzing during back-to-back power plays. Tigers had a couple decent shots on Mike Davern but Ken East ended period with 9-4 edge in shots.

Until those late penalties, Amherst did good job slowing down Ken East before Bulldogs skaters reached neutral zone. Tigers basically playing version of left-wing lock and standing up Ken East players in neutral zone.

Second Period

Kenmore East scored first just after a power play had expired. Steve Genter's screen shot from the point beat Amherst goalie Sean Smith between the arm and body with 8:53 left.

Continue reading "Live from the Federation hockey Division II semifinals: Amherst stuns way into Super Sunday vs. Sweet Home" »

Live chat Feb. 24

After taking a week off from our chat, there's no shortage of fun stuff to talk about.

There are 23 prequarterfinals today in boys basketball while the Federation Division I (large school) semifinals are tonight at the Amherst (not Pepsi anymore) Center.

I'm sure I'll be taking in some of the action and doing some blogging before I head to One News Plaza, where I'll be able to relay the results which will be coming in over our phone lines. 

A note: You may be seeing some advertising as part of the CoverItLive chat portal; it's something that company has gone to in order to capitalize on all of its users (we aren't charged). I don't know what it will look like but I don't anticipate any problems. Just wanted to make you aware.

If you won't be around for the chat, feel free to ask some questions in the comments section below and we'll tackle them during the session.

Here are some previous chats from the winter season: last chat (Feb. 11), Feb. 3Jan. 28Jan. 20Jan 14, Jan. 6, Dec. 15.

---Keith McShea

Live from the Federation hockey Division I semifinals: Will North, Niagara-Wheatfield win

It's the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation Large School playoff semifinals.

So long as the wireless keeps working, we will provide updates of the showdowns between Williamsville North and Clarence and later on Niagara-Wheatfield versus Lancaster.

Both games are rematches of last year's semifinals. North beat Clarence in double overtime last year, while Niagara-Wheatfield stunned Lancaster en route to the title.

Williamsville North vs. Clarence

First Period

Williamsville North leads 1-0 through 15 minutes.

North had the better of the play but didn't cash in until the 11:10 mark of the period when Matt Bauman slipped a loose puck in the crease into the net during a goal-mouth scramble. Chris Marsack and Ian Moskal earned the assists on the goal.

The Spartans outshot Clarence, 12-4, and didn't allow the Red Devils a quality chance until the final seconds of the period. Off a faceoff to the right of North goalie Parker Gahagen with 26.5 seconds left after an icing call, Mark Armstrong fired a low, hard shot through traffic that almost slipped between the arm and body of Gahagen.

Second period

North carries a 2-1 lead into the locker room. The Spartans have carried the play against the spunky Red Devils but have failed to cash in on transition chances as well as quality scoring opportunities from the slot when they've been buzzing around the Clarence zone. Shots off those chances have either sailed wide or over the net.

Continue reading "Live from the Federation hockey Division I semifinals: Will North, Niagara-Wheatfield win" »

Who's going to win in Federation hockey?

The puck drops today on the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation Playoffs.

Who's going to make it to Super Sunday at HSBC Arena on Feb. 28? Vote in the polls and tell us why in the comments section below.

Tuesday at Amherst Center

7-Kenmore West vs. 10-Lockport, 11:30 a.m.
8-Niagara Falls vs. 9-North Tonawanda, 1:30 p.m.
Thursday at Amherst Center

3-Orchard Park vs. 6-Clarence, 5 p.m
1-Williamsville North vs. TBA, 7 p.m.
2-Niagara-Wheatfield vs. TBA, 9 p.m.
Saturday at Amherst Center
4-Lancaster vs. 5-Frontier, 1 p.m.
Feb. 24 at Amherst Center
Feb. 28, 6 p.m., at HSBC Arena

Tuesday at Amherst Center

9-Lewiston-Porter vs. No. 8 Hamburg, noon
Saturday, at Amherst Center

1-Kenmore East vs. Lew-Port/Hamburg, 3 p.m.
3-Williamsville East vs. 6-West Seneca West, 5 p.m.
4-West Seneca East vs. 5-Sweet Home, 7 p.m.
2-Williamsville South vs. 7-Amherst, 9 p.m.
Feb. 25 at Amherst Center
Feb. 28, 4 p.m., at HSBC Arena

Wednesday at Amherst Center

4-Bishop Timon-St. Jude vs. 5- Nichols, 9 a.m.
Monday at Amherst Center

1-Canisius vs. Timon/Nichols, 7 p.m.
2-St. Joe's vs. 3-St. Francis, 9 p.m.
Feb. 28, 8 p.m., at HSBC Arena

---Keith McShea

Live chat Feb. 11 from Fed hockey

Another week, another shift before the snap for our weekly chat.

This week we've shifted to Thursday. We'll be chatting live from the Amherst Pepsi Center at around 10 p.m.

I'll start my day at the Middle College at Grover Cleveland Yale Cup showdown at 5:30 p.m. before heading to the always-entertaining Federation hockey Thursday doubleheader. This week, St. Joe's and Canisius battle at 7 p.m. followed by Williamsville South and Williamsville East skating at 9 p.m. 

As the postseason looms for some sports -- and has started for others -- we'll certainly have a lot to talk about. Anything in the high school sports world is up for discussion, from the polls to PrepTalkTV.

If you won't be around for the chat, feel free to ask some questions in the comments section below and we'll tackle them during the session.

Here are some previous chats from the winter season: last week (Feb. 3)Jan. 28Jan. 20Jan 14, Jan. 6, Dec. 15.

---Keith McShea

Thursday Night Live: Hoops (Middle College beats Grover) and hockey (Canisius beats Joe's) before the chat (with video)

Before our live chat tonight around 10, we've got some hoops and hockey to watch.

5:40 p.m. We're at Grover Cleveland anticipating the start of one of the most anticipated games of the season -- Middle College visits with an undefeated record. The Kats are the only unbeaten left in the Yale Cup after East's surprising loss on Tuesday.

6:02 p.m. With 2:56 left in the first quarter, Grover is getting some turnovers and transition baskets and has a 15-7 lead.

6:05 p.m. Middle College calls a timeout with 1:41 left in the first quarter with Grover up 17-7 thanks to a I-wish-I-had-the-iPhone going one-handed, from a standing-start JAM by Kadeem Hillman. WOW.

6:09 p.m. Another dunk -- this time a fast break finish by Justin Stokes for Middle College. To show that I'm an equal opportunity dunk-misser, I don't have the video of that either. Arghh. That came in the final minute. We are at the end of the first quarter and Grover Cleveland leads, 20-11.

6:17 p.m. Middle College with a great run which included a dunk by Stokes on a fast break (that one Ive got on video) and has taken a 23-22 lead with 4:04 left in the second, prompting a timeout by Grover coach Earl Schunk.

6:26 p.m. We are at halftime and Middle College leads Grover, 35-30.

6:45 p.m. Schunk calls a timeout with 2:49 left in the third and Middle College up, 47-37.

6:49 p.m. An injury timeout with 1:11 left in the third and MC up, 51-41.

6:52 p.m. We are at the end of the third quarter and Middle College leads Grover Cleveland, 51-43

I've seen Grover look dead before and come back to win against good teams -- St. Joe's and Lackawanna -- so it could be an exciting fourth.  

7:05 p.m. Some fun back-and-forth action but Middle College holds a 65-58 lead with 3:08 left in the game. Grover just took a timeout.

7:09 p.m. Chris Holland hits a three-pointer and Grover is within 73-64 with 1:37 left.

7:13 p.m. Grover calls a timeout with 57.1 seconds left trailing, 73-66. Middle College has the ball; they've missed some free throws.

7:16 p.m. No comeback today. Middle leads, 77-66, with 20.4 seconds left and is going to the line. 

7:17 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE in HOOPS: Middle College 79, Grover Cleveland 66

Some interviews and then I'm off to Amherst for hockey.

8:19 p.m. We are here, plugged in and powered up at the Amherst (Pepsi? It's on some signs but not on others) Center for Federation hockey.

After two periods, Canisius leads St. Joe's, 4-3. The teams traded goals in the late going. I'm going to get some work done here -- trying to file a report for Middle College's win -- and I'll provide updates after goals and at the end of the game.

8:48 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE in HOCKEY: Canisius 5, St. Joe's 3.

I've got video of Canisius' fifth goal, which I'll post here when I can.

Joe's was pressing to tie the game but a late penalty hindered their comeback attempt in the final minutes. Joe's pulled their goalie but there was no real close calls the rest of the way. Canisius continues a dominant year in the Federation. 

And it seems that hockey moms are, as someone once said, pit bulls with lipstick. One St. Joe's mom was one of a few St. Joe's fans who were irate at the late penalty called on the Marauders (you can hear some of them as the penalties are being announced at the start of the clip) and let loose on the referee, including a forceful, "YOU SU*K!!!" Nice.

9:21 p.m. They just dropped the puck for Williamsville South against Williamsville East. Seniors for both teams were honored before the game. A good crowd on hand, but nowhere near the amount that was here for Canisius-St. Joe's.

9:46 p.m. South and East are scoreless after one period.

10:01 p.m. It's time for the LIVE CHAT. Get thee to the adjacent post on here. 

---Keith McShea

Live chat Jan. 14: After the games, join the chat

There is pretty great schedule of high school action tonight, and when it's through I'll be on a live chat at 10 p.m.

I'm going to start my high school day at the early-bird boys basketball special of Bishop Timon-St. Jude at St. Joe's at 4:30 p.m. The next stop is during the Yale Cup's 5:30 p.m. lineup -- I'll head to Riverside as they host Grover Cleveland. Then I'll probably catch some action at the St. Joe's-Canisius hockey game at the Amherst Pepsi Center -- it's a 7 p.m. start -- before getting my first look of the Jamestown basketball team as the Red Raiders visit Clarence in ECIC I play (it's a 7:30 p.m. start, but you JV guys, take as long as you like so I'm able to catch more of the action :-) ).

I'll have live updates from my travels on the blog, then I'll head back to One News Plaza for the chat. See you there (actually, see you here).

If you won't be around for the chat, feel free to ask some questions in the comments section below and we'll tackle them during the session.

Also, if you've caught a game, feel free to let us know what you thought of the action in the comments space below.

Here's last week's chat, and here's the previous chat, held Dec. 15 live from St. Mary's.

---Keith McShea

Canisius-Wheatfield Fed hockey is on for tonight

The general rule is, if there's no school, there's no sports. With all those school closings on the television tickers today, that means today's schedule is going to take a hit.

We do know that the Federation hockey game between Canisius and Niagara-Wheatfield is on for 7 p.m. at the Amherst Pepsi Center -- that's the only Fed game that will be played tonight.

If you've got any info on scheduling, less us know here or send me an email (linked below).

---Keith McShea
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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 | [email protected]