The highest level of competition during the Bowman Cup series is at the prep/junior level, and Buffalo and Rochester provided an electrifying contest that required an extra period to complete. Buffalo emerged on top by a score of 4-3 in overtime, completing the sweep of all three games in Wednesday’s action at First Niagara Center.
Josh Gabriel (Buffalo Jr. Sabres Jr. A) scored the game-winning goal 2:02 into overtime and added an assist on the tying goal. Aaron Reinig (Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U), Dennis Gilbert (Buffalo Jr. Sabres Jr. A) and Eric Szczecinski (Nichols) also scored for the victorious Buffalo squad.
The first goal of this contest was scored by Rochester after a fast-paced opening. Brandon Hutchison (Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U) advanced the puck into the Buffalo zone while dodging three defenders before burying a backhand past Buffalo goaltender Anthony Tirabassi (Nichols).
With Rochester defenseman Ryan Fritz in the penalty box for cross-checking, Buffalo used the power play to tie the game. Buffalo’s Michael Ederer (Buffalo Jr. Sabres Jr. A) used some crafty work along the boards to free up Reinig, whose wrist shot made it through multiple skaters and Rochester goaltender Jordan Severo (Bell Tire 18U).
The high-flying first half continued as Buffalo took their first lead of the contest at the 16:26 mark of the first half. As forward Ben Sharf (Loomis Chaffee) carried the puck over the Rochester blue line, Gilbert rushed into the play and snapped a shot past goaltender Shane Fuller (Rochester Americans 18U).
The Buffalo lead would be short lived, as it took just 48 seconds for Rochester to bring the game back to a tie. Off a two-on-one, Rochester’s Teddy McCabe (Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U) fed Anthony DePetres (Aquinas) with a pass across the slot, and DePetres capitalized, putting a shot past Buffalo goaltender Tucker Weppner (Avon Old Farms) low to the glove side.
While the action continued at both ends, Rochester was able to put a second goal past Weppner. Brandon Henshaw found the puck behind the net and was able to sneak a shot in between the left post and Weppner after a number of attempts.
Rochester would hold the lead about eight more minutes, but a cross checking penalty to Nick Boyd gave Buffalo another chance on the power play. In need of a tying goal, Buffalo found it from Szczecinski. Set up by Joe Cecconi (Muskegon - USHL) and Gabriel, the goal turned out to be the last one of regulation.
While Buffalo had tied the game and could have played for overtime, they continued to find quality scoring chances from Jake Smith (Nichols) and Cameron Radziwon (Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U).
Rochester goaltender Lawson Fenton (Rochester Americans 18U) was phenomenal over the final seven minutes of regulation and overtime, but in the end it was Gabriel whose game-winning goal on a heavy wrist shot secured the Rick Martin Memorial Cup for the Buffalo prep/junior team.