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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
On April 3rd in Oshawa, Ontario the North Buffalo Bisons 10U girl s hockey team capped their outstanding season by winning the Ontario Lower Lakes League Championships.  The team went a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs and the two game round robin championships.  This is the first championship for a Bisons team playing in the Lower Lakes League.  The Lower Lakes League is comprised of over 400 girl s teams from all of Ontario and Western New York from the U10 to U19 age level.

In the semi-final game the Bisons faced a strong Chatham, Ontario team and won by a 4-1 margin.  The game was much closer than the final score indicates.  Abby Cleary opened the scoring for the Bisons in the first period on a nifty move by beating the defenseman wide and then maneuvering around the goalie to score in the far side.  Assists went Lina Mirabella and Lexi Skibitsky.  Chatham tied the score minutes later on a screened shot from the blue line.  The Bisons goaltender, Bailey Lewczyk, stood no chance as her view was completely blocked.  Bridgette Prentiss put the Bisons back on top 2-1 on the very next shift on a great shot from the point as the period was coming to an end.  Assists on this goal went to Abby Welch and Michele Robillard.  This was a key goal in that it took the momentum back from Chatham and proved to be the game winner.  Cleary tallied the Bisons  third goal and her second of the game midway through the second period making it 3-1.  Assisting on this goal were Claire Werynski and Ellie Cleary.  With one period to go the Bisons defense took over and let very few shots through to Lewczyk.   Those that did get through were expertly turned away.  The defense was led by Kelly Gramza, Werynski, Prentiss, Olivia Smith and Julia Panepinto.  Abby Cleary closed out the scoring in the third period earning her a hat trick and the team a victory.  Assists on this goal went to Anna Flaherty and Robillard.

In the championship game the Bisons faced the top team from Barrie, Ontario.  The Bisons won by a 4-0 score and this game was also much closer than the score states.  The Bisons Rachel dePerio opened the scoring in the last minute of the first period on a strong wrist shot into the top corner to start things off.  Abby Welch and Julia Panepinto assisted on the goal.  Abby Cleary then scored on another top corner wrist shot for the Bisons two minutes into the second period with assists going to Olivia Smith and Bridgette Prentiss making it 2-0 game.  After two periods of play the score remained 2-0 with Barrie applying pressure in the Bisons end for most of the second period.  Lewczyk turned each shot away keeping her team in the lead and Barrie off the scoreboard.  In the first minute of the third period Cleary broke free and followed up with her second of the game making it a 3-0 contest on a nice passing play from Gramza and Flaherty.

With two minutes remaining to play in the game the Barrie goaltender was pulled in favor of an extra skater in an attempt to close the scoring gap.  Just the opposite occurred as Cleary grabbed the puck just inside her blue line and skated past three defenders for an open net goal making the final score 4-0 and her third goal of the game.  Assists were awarded to dePerio and Werynski.  Andrea Colan stepped in at goal for the Bisons with several minutes left to play and added a number of key saves to insure the shutout.

In getting to the finals, the Bisons played the North Halton Twisters in round one wining the 2-out of -3 series in two straight with scores of 4-0 and 4-1.  The Bisons next played the Burlington Barracudas and won the series in two games 4-2 and 3-1.  In round three the team played the St. Catharines Chaos winning two straight 6-2 and 2-1.  The second game provided for a dramatic finish where the Bisons  Abby Welch scored with 1.9 seconds left in the game to clinch entry into the Finals.

Congratulations to the girls on their outstanding season.
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