Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lockport Alumni Win Both Games at Hockey Day in Lockport

Saturday was the second annual Hockey Day in Lockport at the Cornerstone Ice Arena in downtown Lockport. It was a full day of hockey-related activities, including a sled hockey game, two alumni games, both Lockport junior varsity and varsity games, and an open skate. Also included were raffles and a NHL roundtable featuring former Sabres, Jim Lorentz and Derek Smith.

Express player, Brandon Schweickert
autographs for a young skater
The highlight of the day was the pair of alumni games by former Lockport Ice Lions players. The games were split into “Rookie” and “Vintage” categories. Each of the categories had two teams that faced off against one another.

The “Rookies” game was played first, and it was a very good hockey game considering it was all in good fun. Those young guns were all business when they took the ice. The goaltenders were stopping every shot fired at them through the first two periods. The Blue team finally broke the double goose eggs when Joe Frischholz planted one in the back of the net.

Jim Lorentz, Randy Schultz, and Derek Smith
The White team answered back by scoring the next three goals of the game. Matt Milliman tied the game and Steve Latona gave the White team the lead. Pat Reynolds added an empty netter at the end of regulation to give the White team a 3-1 lead and the eventual win.

Before the “Vintage” Alumni game, there was the roundtable with Jim Lorentz and Derek Smith. Randy Schultz was the moderator. Lorentz and Smith regaled the crowd with anecdotes about their time playing in the NHL. The humorous story of Lorentz being locked in the Visitors locker room in the Aud after he had been traded from the Rangers to the Sabres got some chuckles.

Lorentz also spoke about working with Lockport’s Ted Darling. He described Darling as “the most natural play-by-play guy ever.” He said he was so fortunate to have both Darling and Rick Jeanneret as mentors when he was breaking into the media portion of his career.

Erick Santiago, Brandon Schweickert, Gibson Stuart, Adam
Partridge, and Collin Rutkowski pose with Sabretooth
Derek Smith described being drafted by the Sabres in the tenth round, one round ahead of the non-existent Taro Tsujimoto. The infamous day that he was traded to Detroit happened while he was working on the new house he had just built. (“The kiss of death for a professional athlete,” he declared.) Both players talked about how much they loved Buffalo, and made it their home after retirement.

At the beginning of the Roundtable, MIke Landers announced the 2017 Howell Motors Hockey Hall of Fame Class. They are as follows:

Coaches Category:
Norm Phillips
Lou Rossetti
Paul Pignataro

Contributors Category:
John Jakubec
Dick Rybolt
Bud Timkey
Ben May

Players Category:
Paul Bailey
Steve Allison
Christian DeFazio
Tom Dockery
Chris Hildreth
Joel Darling

The Rookies 
The “Vintage” Alumni game was a higher scoring affair than the earlier game with the Rookies. The Blue Team came from behind to send the game to overtime. In the end, the White Team won shortly into overtime, 9-8.

The White team scored 6 in the first period. Goals came from Paul Bailey, Christian DeFazio, Terry Dixon (2), Steve Eglin, and Jim Musto. The three goals in the first period for the Blue team were scored by Jeff Moran, Matt Morreale, and Scott Haseley.

Christian DeFazio scored another goal in the second, and Bill Watson netted another for the White team. Blue scorers were Tracy McNitt, Tom Hayden, and John Reid. In the third, Defazio completed the hat trick with the lone White team goal. Meanwhile, Mark Kahle scored twice and Tom Hayden added a tally. Tied at 8-8, the game went to overtime. DeFazio ripped one home for his fourth of the night and a White team victory.

The Vintage players shake hands at the end of their game
Watching both game was a whole lot of fun. The early game was a hard played game. The boys were all business, and it showed with a close game. The Vintage game was a bit more laid back. They were just as serious about the game, but there were plenty of laughs between plays. All the players on all four teams are amazing athletes. Here are the rosters from each team as given to the Watercooler by Bill Watson:

Blue Team White Team
Phil Allport Pat Barnwell
Jim Austin Dan Barrancotta
Joel Bezek Tom Castaldo
Dan Denardo Joe Cicciarelli
Joe Frischholz Chris Danna
Connor Haseley Josh Denardo
Brandon Herbst Seth Hamilton
Josh Long Bill Kenyon
Zach Long Steve Latona
Tracy Maracle Matt Milliman
Jed McIntosh Dom Morreale
Ian McNaught John Ottaviano
Sean Roberts James Quirk
Tyler Snedeker Pat Reynolds
Jeff Wozniak T.J. Sarratorri

Pat Krebs
Richie Latona
Albert Schreier

Blue Team White Team
Rick Eberhart Bongo Bailey
Marc Eberz Erik Bernardi
Todd Gagliardi Brian Bremer
Scott Haseley Christian DeFazio
Dan Hayden Len DeFazio
Tom Hayden Terry Dixon
Chris Hildreth Steve Eglin
Mark Kahle Bill Ernst
Tracy McNitt Kevin MacDonald
Jeff Moran Jim Musto
Matt Morreale Todd Richards
Jim Neidrauer Tom Snedeker
Tyler Ray Bill Watson
Mike Mussel
Jim Papapanu
Mike Pickereign

A lot of people came through the doors of the Cornerstone Arena throughout the day. For the open skate, there was a line around the entire downstairs as people waited to get skates and onto the ice. I missed the sled hockey game and the junior varsity game, but for the first two periods of the Lockport Lions varsity game, the stands were full. It is wonderful to have so many people sharing the arena and Light Up Lockport on a very special day.