Niagara-Wheatfield scored three goals in a 21/2-minute span of the second and third periods and went on to a 5-1 victory over Ithaca High in the quarterfinals of the state Division I boys’ hockey tournament Saturday at Northtown Center.
Second-ranked Wheatfield (19-4-2) will play Saratoga in the state semifinals at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Utica Auditorium. CBA of Section 3 will play Beekmantown of Section 7 at 10 a.m. in the other semifinal.
Senior Michael Abdulky scored the lone goal for the Little Red (9-11-1), while junior goalie Brandon Kasel stopped 34 shots before yielding to senior Dylan Riker (3 saves) in the last five minutes.
Mike Parisi scored twice for the winners, who took a 2-1 lead with 15 seconds to go in the second period on a short-handed goal by Domenic Senese. Parisi made it 3-1 at 1:08 of the third period, and Adriane Medici scored just 1:07 later to put the Falcons ahead by three.
The late second-period goal was huge for N-W, according to Ithaca first-year coach Paul Zarach.
“It was definitely a momentum changer in the game,” Zarach said. “At the end of the second, I thought it was good that we had the intermission to regroup, but they came right at us in third.”
Ithaca loses nine seniors, and Zarach is hopeful that next year’s team will benefit from the lessons learned during this year, which started out with seven wins in its first eight games but ended with some tough road losses to some of the state’s best teams.
“It was a pretty successful season, even though the wins and losses don’t look like it,” Zarach said. “The kids got to learn a lot about what it takes to compete with better programs and the stronger teams in the state. They battled, and they didn’t give up.”