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Paluch, Steelers thrash Buffalo Varsity, 12-1

Dunkirk-Fredonia Steelers player Mike Norton, right, battles for the puck during Sunday’s game against Buffalo Varsity at Steele Hall Ice Arena in Fredonia. OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot.

Buffalo Varsity forward Nicholas Crapsi found himself on two breakaways in the first 30 seconds of Sunday’s WNYHSCHL White Division hockey game at Steele Hall Ice Arena in Fredonia and finished on the second attempt, beating Dunkirk-Fredonia Steelers goaltender Tim Rasey five-hole to put the Steelers in an early hole.

But the goal did not appear to even faze the Steelers, who immediately went back to playing their game. It was a heck of a gameplan that allowed them to demolish Buffalo Varsity, 12-1.

“We have a habit to start slow,” stated Dunkirk-Fredonia head coach Michael Rakoska. “I wasn’t too worried because they haven’t won this year, but we’ve got a big game coming up Thursday against division-rival Olean, and we got to play a little bit better than that.”

Just 20 seconds after giving up their second breakaway of the game, that put them down 1-0, the Dunkirk-Fredonia Steelers (7-7) got an equalizer from Zach Korzeniewski who received a nice feed from Ethan Brunner behind the net off the dump and chase by Kameron Mages.

After getting their first goal, the Steelers went right back to work dominating possession in the offensive zone. The second goal came shortly after another rush that saw Michael Norton ring a shot off the crossbar, Norton followed his shot to the net while Dawson Bird collected the puck in the corner and fed it to a wide open Norton backdoor and gave the Steelers a 2-1 lead.

Dunkirk-Fredonia Steelers player Alex Rush shoots the puck on net during Sunday’s game against Buffalo Varsity at Steele Hall Ice Arena in Fredonia. OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot.

The Steelers continued to generate a plethora of offensive chances in the first period, but Buffalo Varsity (0-13) goaltender Antonio Torres stood on his head to keep his squad in the game. After the first period, the Steelers only led by one — and it was thanks to Torres in net.

“We have a really skilled team,” stated Coach Rakoska. “I’ve been blessed with a lot kids that can possess the puck. We have been working on a triangle offense all year and that helps us keep possession.”

Dunkirk-Fredonia got right back to work in the second period, but were finding trouble getting to the back of the net. A pair of minor penalties taken by Korzeniewski gave Buffalo Varsity slim hope of getting some possession. Any hopes of a second goal for Buffalo Varsity was shortly turned away when the penalty killing unit generated some chances of their own. Alexander Paluch first connected with Joshua Cooper to extend the lead to 3-1. Seconds later off the center ice faceoff, Paluch scored his first of the game and gave the Steelers their second shorthanded goal of the penalty, 4-1.

Once Paluch found the back of the net, he got a real taste of it and went on a tear. Paluch scored three more goals consecutively, getting a natural hat-trick and a 7-1 lead for the Steelers. Paluch went on to add a fifth goal in the third period that gave him his eighth point on the evening.

Partway through the second period, Buffalo Varsity goaltender Torres went out with an injury that brought in Lucius Casillas into net. Casillas put up a valiant effort in net, but the firepower of the Steelers was far too much. Goals from Korzeniewski, Bird, Kinnan Finnegan and Harris brought them to the eventual 12-1 final.

“The hard part in a game like this is making sure that they play the right way and not get into bad habits and I thought we did a good job with that,” Coach Rakoska stated about playing in a lopsided victory.

Dunkirk-Fredonia hopes the offensive firepower can carry on to Thursday’s game against rival Olean at Steele Hall Arena.

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