Pittsford hockey makes fifth trip to state semifinals: What to know about their matchup

Goalie Aden Brown is the anchor of the Pittsford defense heading into Saturday's state semifinal.
Goalie Aden Brown is the anchor of the Pittsford defense heading into Saturday's state semifinal.

Aden Brown didn’t exactly come out of nowhere for the Pittsford hockey team. But he’s definitely arrived.

The sophomore goalie played the bulk of minutes for the regular season and did well. But once the postseason arrived and coach Steve Thering called his number, Brown’s played every minute and has taken his abilities to an even higher level.

“Aden’s been good all year,” Pittsford coach Steve Thering said. “And that’s because we put a lot of time into our goalies. We have designated minutes for them in practice every day.”

And that’s why the Panthers are in the Division I state semifinals this weekend. Pittsford (18-5-1) plays Section III champion West Genesee (21-3-0) on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Harborcenter in Buffalo. Saturday’s winner advances to Sunday’s 2 p.m. championship game.

Clarkstown of Section I and Suffern, a Section I alternate, play in Saturday’s other semifinal.

Pittsford hockey: A closer look

Pittsford clinched its semifinal berth with last Saturday’s 4-2 win over Orchard Park of Section VI. Brown made 28 saves against the Quakers and takes a 1.50 goals-against average into Saturday’s semifinal against the Wildcats.

Brown is averaging 31.5 saves in four postseason games, twice holding opponents to one goal and twice to two goals.

“It starts with the guys in front of him playing good team defense,” said Thering. “But Aden’s done a really good job of controlling rebounds and making the stop. We tell him to make the first stop and we’ll support you.”

The work of “the guys” in front of Brown is the work of two lines that includes Bradley Pollard, Drew Ricketts, Logan Wood and Ryan Munzinger.

Bradley Pollard (19) is part of the strong Pittsford defense but has contributed offensively as well.
Bradley Pollard (19) is part of the strong Pittsford defense but has contributed offensively as well.

“They do a great job of blocking shots and initiating rushes,” said Thering. “It’s huge. It allows rushes up the ice with numbers so now we are attacking and it kind of puts other teams on their heels.”

The Panthers will need that to continue for Brown and his defense while also keeping the balanced offense on track.

Eight different players have scored goals in Pittsford’s postseason run led by Colin Norton (1-4), Henok Hankinson (3-1), Will Masaschi (2-1), Lucas Procious (1-2), Brady McMahon (2-1), Cole Mann (1-3), Keegan Ahern (1-0) and Bradley Pollard (1-0).

This is Pittsford’s fifth trip to the state semifinals, the last one coming in 2017 when the Panthers lost to Williamsville North of Section VI in the state championship. The Panthers also lost in the 2012 state championship.

Hockey: Pittsford wins another Section V title in OT

West Genesee hockey: A closer look

The Wildcats lost in last season’s state final and the 2016 final after winning a 2010 championship.

And although they lost eight players to graduation from last year’s team, West Genny has been a team on a mission this year. The Wildcats won their first eight games before taking their first loss, a 2-1 decision against fellow semifinalist Suffern. All three losses for West Genny this season have been by one goal.

“They clog the neutral zone very well and are relentless around the net,” said Thering, whose team took a 4-2 loss to West Genesee on Dec. 8. “You have to earn every inch of ice against them.”

Luke Beck has been the primary goalie and has directed a defense that’s allowed just one goal in the last three games.

Up front, the duo of sophomore William Schneid (36-35) and senior Liam Burns (20-18) are the catalysts but there is plenty of support from Ryan Considene (13-28), Michael Hard (13-7) and Owen Zoanetti (9-28). Overall, 20 different players have scored at least one goal for West Genesee, which is averaging six goals a game while allowing just 1.3 per.

This article originally appeared on MPNnow: NY state hockey playoffs: Pittsford to face West Genesee in semifinals