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B/ND crowned sectional champs

HENRIETTA, NY-- Despite a late rally by the Webster Thomas Titans, Batavia Notre Dame United became Section V Class B champions Monday evening. After going up 2-0 early in the second period, the Titans scored the remainder of the regulation goals and pushed the game to overtime. Joe DiRisio was the hero, scoring the game-winner for B/ND who captured its first sectional title as a combined program.

"I don't think there's a feeling for it," DiRisio said. "I think you got to be here, a part of it, to actually describe it."

DiRisio firing a puck. Photo Credit: Zach Harnischfeger, 89.1 the Point

B/ND's penalty kill, which was called upon numerous times on the night, came up huge at the end of regulation. A tripping violation against Noah Whitcombe with 2:01 left in a 2-2 contest meant Webster Thomas would be man-up looking to break the tie. Continuing the earlier themes of the game, the penalty was killed off and thus overtime was born.

Between the poles for Batavia Notre Dame United was Rhys Tanner. He had a 30-save night. The goal-scorers for B/ND were Brennen Pedersen, Ivan Milovidov, and DiRisio. Brady Johnson, Jameson Motyka, and Maggio Buchholz were credited assists.

Webster Thomas goal-scorers were Logan Billone and Ryan Goel while were Cameron Hall, Theodore Paprocki, and Trevor Veno tallied helpers.

Early on, every skater was playing more physically than technically. The first few minutes didn't consist of controlled hockey but rather lots of slams by the boards and pucks getting loose. Neither offense put together long possessions ending in quality shot-takes.

Pedersen put B/ND on the board first with only his second goal of the season. He did so on his first shift of the evening.

"We're a good team when we have the lead," Pedersen said. "We knew we weren't gonna give up many."

Batavia Notre Dame United celebrating their first goal. Photo Credit: Liam Hoffmann, 89.1 the Point

The first of several penalty kills by B/ND came with three and a half minutes left in period one. Tanner was clutch on each of them. Their team defense was effective as well. Thomas didn't score on the power play all night.

"Our penalty kill has been perfect so far in the postseason," B/ND head coach Marc Staley said. "We feel very comfortable with it, but obviously not a spot you want to be in with two minutes to go in the game."

After the first 17 minutes of play, despite trailing, the Titans had mustered eight shots on goal while B/ND had seven.

The beginning of period two held lots of offensive time for B/ND. Resultingly, Milovidov scored his seventh goal of sectionals with a wrist shot and five and a half minutes away in the second. Just a few minutes later, Buchholz ripped one from the blue line wide just left of the post that could've got the game to 3-0. Instead, Thomas flipped a switch.

Batavia Notre Dame United celebrating their second goal. Photo Credit: Liam Hoffmann, 89.1 the Point

Johnson got Thomas' first score off a feed from Paprocki. Milovidov followed up his score with a roughing penalty, but the ensuing power play for Thomas was again scoreless. After two periods, Thomas was still outshooting B/ND, 19-to-15.

B/ND started the third period off aggressively offensively, trying to gain some insurance. The physical aspect of the game had toned down and fundamental hockey became the emphasis.

"It was very physical," DiRisio said. "But, I think both teams needed to realize that it wasn't really about the physical part, it was just about getting the job done...I think that's what we did better than them."

Puck battle by the boards. Photo Credit: Liam Hoffmann, 89.1 the Point

After just four minutes of period three, B/ND had managed to rattle off five shots on goal. While Nappi had been having a good night to that point, B/ND emphasized hammering pucks at the net to catch him slipping. He would have none of it. He had 14 saves across the third period plus the four minutes of overtime that were played. Several of these occurred following a Cole Burton holding violation that left Thomas shorthanded.

With less than four minutes left, Veno cleared the puck out to Goel and he ripped from just beyond the blue line to tie things up. A minute and a half later, B/ND's Noah Whitcombe was called for tripping giving Thomas that one last man-up opportunity. Once again, Tanner and the d-core shut it down.

In overtime, Thomas had a strong first offensive shift with quality scoring chances. Nonetheless, on the other end, the captain DiRisio scored from in front of the net off a pass from Buchholz.

"Did we think we were gonna win a sectional championship in three years?" Staley said. "I don't know, that might've been a reach, but here we are...I'm proud of the kids. We've been tested time and time again, somehow we found a way to win games even when we've been outplayed."

Milovidov off the rush. Photo Credit: Liam Hoffmann, 89.1 the Point

Batavia Notre Dame United advances to the regional round. They'll play again on Saturday at noon.

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