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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
U12 Buffalo Bisons
The Buffalo Bisons Hockey Organization is proud to announce their U12 girl’s team won the New York State Hockey Championships this past weekend.  The team now moves on to play for the National Championship in Green Bay, Wisconsin that begins April 7th.

The Bisons were also the hosts for the six-team tournament which was held at Nichols School’s Dann Memorial Arena and the North Buffalo ice rink on Tacoma Avenue.  The championship game versus the Syracuse Nationals took place Sunday afternoon at Nichols in front of a packed house with the Bisons winning 4-1.

The Championship game was much closer than the score reflects.  Syracuse opened the scoring in the first period and held that lead midway through the second period until Rachel de Perio raced to the front of the net and was able to tip home a pass from Emma Elia.  The teams headed off the ice after two periods tied 1-1.  In the first minutes of the third period Bridgette Prentiss placed a strong shot over the shoulder of the goalie from the slot making the score 2-1 and scoring what turned out to be the game winner.  Several minuets later dePerio got free again and with a nice move pulled the Syracuse net minder out of position and put the puck in the empty net.  The Bisons final goal came with about 3-minuets to play when Abby Cleary scored with a nice shot into the top corner ending any hope of a Syracuse comeback.   

The Bisons started off the tournament by beating the Rochester Edge 4-0 on Friday morning.  Friday evening they faced the Amherst Knights and tied 2-2.  Saturday morning the Bisons played Troy-Albany and won 10-0 following that up with a 3-0 win over the Westchester Vipers Saturday evening.  Sunday morning’s first game against Syracuse with the Bisons winning 2-0 did not impact the standings as both teams had already clinched a birth in the Championship game by their solid play in the round-robin portion of the tournament.

The Team scored 25 goals during the weekend and only let three in.  Excellent goaltending was provided by Bailey Lewczyk and Rachel Farmer.  The defense was headed by Bridgette Prentiss, Ellis Smith, Jillian Koop, Kelly Gramza, Claire Werynski, and Lina Mirabella.  The forward lines included Abby Welch, Emma Ellia, Riley Johnson, Abby Cleary, Coaty Ostendorf, Michele Robillard, Lexi Skibisty, Grace Page, and Rachel dePerio.  

This is the forth straight year that the Bison organization has sent their girl’s U12 team to the National Tournament.  Interestingly, this team only returned two of the players from last year’s team.  The team is still very young and will only lose four players due to age restrictions at the end of this season.

Much of last year’s team graduated and is playing for the U14 team that is presently ranked #5 in the country.   The U14 team will play for the state Championships along with the U19 team this weekend here in Buffalo at the same rinks beginning Friday.
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