The first game of the Bowman Cup series required an extra period and more to determine a winner, but the Buffalo high school juniors proved victorious over Rochester with a 4-3 shootout victory.
Michael Benaquist (West Seneca East) led the way for the Buffalo squad with two goals in the contest, and Adam Tobias (West Seneca West) scored the lone goal in the eight-round shootout.
It took over 10 minutes to find the first goal of the game, but the Rochester juniors opened the scoring with an unassisted goal from Michael Campbell (McQuaid). Campbell outworked the Buffalo defense and buried a backhand past Buffalo goaltender Max Battistoni (Williamsville East).
Rochester extended their first-half lead to two goals at the 13:54 mark of the first period. Battistoni got a piece of a point shot from Cameron Krug (Fairport), but Rochester forward Brandon Corey (Spencerport) buried the puck after it trickled behind the Buffalo netminder.
Buffalo had two excellent chances to break the Rochester shutout late in the first. Benaquist broke free for a breakaway with 5:30 left in the first, but Rochester goaltender Patrick Massey (Penfield) stood tall to make the save.
Four minutes later, Buffalo forward Andrew Husted (Grand Island) got his own chance in close after outworking a Rochester defenseman. However, goaltender Christian Portland (Victor) was up to the task and kept Rochester’s shutout bid intact through the first half.
It took just 46 seconds of the second half for Buffalo to find the back of the Rochester net. Defenseman Brian Wasilewski (West Seneca East) sprung a two-on-one opportunity for Benaquist and Brendan Hart (Hamburg). Benaquist snuck the puck over to Hart, whose return pass found Benaquist alone on the back door for a tap-in goal.
Buffalo’s Sam Rydzewski (North Tonawanda) had a golden opportunity to tie the game just three minutes after the first Buffalo goal, but Portland made a gorgeous save, swatting the puck out of mid-air with his glove just as it was about to cross the goal line.
Rydzewski would not be denied twice in a row, as he buried a rebound past Rochester goaltender Ryan Beutel (Webster Schroeder) at the 9:16 mark of the second half.
When Buffalo needed to gain the lead in the game, it was Benaquist who cashed in after a nice pass from Hart set up a breakaway chance. Buffalo’s lead would be short lived, as Rochester’s Joe Schuler (Schroeder) worked the puck into the Buffalo zone and ripped a wrist shot over the shoulder of goaltender Kyle Painter (North Tonawanda) to tie the game at three. Despite numerous scoring chances over the final eight minutes of regulation, that score carried over into an overtime period.
The goaltenders were the brightest stars in the overtime period, as Beutel and Painter were both required to make a number of point blank saves, including a breakaway stop each way.
Beutel and Painter kept their stellar play going throughout the shootout, as each goaltender stopped the first seven shooters they faced. In the end, though, it was Tobias’ wrist shot that found the back of the net and clinched the Tim Horton Memorial Cup for the Buffalo high school juniors.