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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo team of high school seniors found just enough willpower to come out ahead of Rochester. Buffalo emerged victorious by a final score of 3-2 to take home the Bowman Cup for the eighth time in 10 meetings.

Buffalo forward Joseph Langer (Lewiston Porter) provided the eventual game-winner at the start of the second half, and Connor Fields (Bishop Timon/St. Jude) and Steve Skinner (Canisius) also scored in the victory. Goaltender Nate Sommers (Niagara Wheatfield) kept Rochester scoreless for the majority of the first half, and Justin DiChristopher (Lancaster) and Peter Chopra (St. Joe’s) also turned in strong showings for Buffalo.

The game started with an extremely unlikely bounce that put Buffalo on the boards first. While Rochester goaltender Connor Greene (Gates Chili) expected a Buffalo shot to go around the boards, the puck ended up right in front of the net, and Fields tapped in the puck past an unsuspecting Greene.

A back-and-forth first half ensued, but Buffalo was able to make it a 2-0 game just past the halfway mark of the period. Tyler Trubish (Williamsville East) carried the puck into the Rochester zone and blasted a shot on net. Greene made the initial save, but Skinner crashed the net from his defensive position and put the rebound in the back of the net.

With five minutes to play in the first half, Rochester finally got a tally on the board. Alex Whitehair (Hilton) ripped a slap shot from the left point over the glove of DiChristopher. Brandon Henshaw (Brockport) and Mike Capicotto (McQuaid) assisted on the first Rochester goal.

The game-winning goal came at the 3:57 mark of the second half. Buffalo forward Robert McNamara (Kenmore East) worked the puck away as Rochester was setting up behind the net. The puck eventually found its way to Trubish, whose wraparound beat the leg of Rochester goaltender Ryan Schirano (Spencerport).

Rochester stepped up the pressure significantly after Trubish’s goal, but the Buffalo squad was up to the challenge. Two of Rochester’s best chances came from talented forward Tim Foster (Pittsford).

It was not until the 16:13 mark of the second half that Rochester was able to narrow the lead to one. Connor Rotenberg (Brighton) drove the puck to the net, and Ernie Clement (Brighton) put the rebound past Chopra to make it a 3-2 hockey game.

While all the goaltenders played exceptionally in the game, the end of the contest saw a couple of defensemen make big saves for their team with the Bowman Cup on the line. When Buffalo’s Tyler Riter (Orchard Park) found McNamara all alone in front, Rochester goaltender Tim Brei (McQuaid) was caught out of position. Lucky for him, defenseman Aidan Conolly (Spencerport) was there to bail out his goaltender, getting down in the crease to make the save.

Rochester pulled their goaltender to make a frenetic push in the final minute. Rochester’s Cody Howatt (Fairport) had a perfect chance from the slot to tie the game with less than 20 seconds to play, but Skinner got in place to block the shot and was in obvious pain after doing so.

While this was a much closer contest than last year’s 9-0 blowout, the end result was the same as Buffalo’s high school seniors were crowned Bowman Cup champions.

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