BAND ON THE RUN

Contributed PhotoPictured are “top seven” members of the 2017 Section VI Class C champion Newfane boys and girls cross country teams. From left, first row, are Catalina Ersing, Nina Burkard, Leah Siegmann, Lydia Chunco, Vanessa Burkard, Shelby Nerber and Kimberly Goerss; second row, head coach Mike Heitzenrater, Matthew Pusateri, Alan Lingle, Samuel Auernhamer Collin McCabe, Robert Stevenson, Austin Burkard and Noah Thornton. Top finishes at states by both the 2017 Newfane boys and girls varsity cross country teams is our 2017 Union-Sun & Journal Local Sports Story of the Year.

NEWFANE — Good things come to those who wait — and in the case of Newfane boys and girls varsity cross country head coach Mike Heitzenrater, sometimes, great things.

Just 12 months after head coach Mike Heitzenrater's Lady Panthers won the girls Class B cross country state championship, Newfane's boys and girls cross country teams swept the Section VI championship, then after a memorable sendoff parade by a proud community, both teams placed high in the state championships last fall at Wayne Central School in Ontario, N.Y.

Newfane's cross country dominance in 2017 has been selected as the 2017 Union-Sun & Journal Local Sports Story of the Year.

Heitzenrater, a graduate of Starpoint, was a late comer to the sport of cross country running, but made the most of his time, earning back-to-back appearances at the state meet (Elma Meadows and Corning) and was named All-League both seasons.

After earning his undergraduate degree at Cortland and his Master's at Brockport, Heitzenrater was hired at Newfane, where he coached the modified cross country team for two seasons, before taking over the varsity coaching positions for both cross country and track.

While hoping each year to attract a solid core of quality athletes to a sport that doesn't garner as much publicity as other popular fall varsity sports that include football and soccer, Heitzenrater always seemed a runner or two short of that team goal on the boys' side, while fielding a number of individual greats during his tenure that include Nick Pardee and Jason Fisher.

Last year's boys team had high post-season hopes, but a season-ending injury to one of their top runners, Sam Aurenhamer, hurt their chances, though it was a blessing in disguise, Heitzenrater said. 

“Sam broken his leg, but missing him allowed some of the other guys like Noah Thorton and Collin McCabe, it that helped them mature and understand they are important runners as well,” Heitzenrater said.

“We had a great mix of people with this group who were motivated to train hard. I would show up at summer practices and they were doing everything they needed to without me saying a word. They would run as a group, as a family, with everyone putting in the work. It was a nice mix of older and younger people.”

Heitzenrater knew he had a very good returning boys' team at the start of the season and was waiting for his runners to realize it as well, especially when they competed with distinction against the best small and large school teams in the state.

“I think after we started competing against some really good teams, some of the best teams around the state, that they really started believing on their own,” Heitzenrater said. ”They had an underdog mentality throughout the season and made my work easier.”

The Panthers placed third in the state meet at Wayne Central School District, located between Rochester and Syracuse on the map, with the senior Auernhamer coming home fourth overall in 17:15. Other top finishers for the Panthers were senior Collin McCabe (26th, 17:48) and sophomore Alan Lingle (37th, 17:58). Meanwhile, Newfane eighth grader Austin Burkard, senior Noah Thornton, junior Robert Stevenson and sophomore Matthew Pusateri came in 51st, 58th, 65th and 94th respectively.

Rounding out the Newfane boys' 2017 roster are juniors Dawson Nerber and Michael Sobotka, freshmen Ryan Nugent, Jayden Reynolds and Philip Stevenson, eighth grader Gannon Gibson, eighth graders Andrew Cuzzacrea and Connor Cuzzacrea and seventh grader Alden Gibson.

After winning the state title a year ago, the Lady Panthers took second in the Class C state meet last fall with 83 points. Junior Kimberly Goerss was the first Newfane girl to cross the finish line, coming home fourth) overall in 20:48. 

"We knew that what we did last year was a special thing and that it was going to be very tough to get up to the podium," Newfane coach Mike Heitzenrater said about his girls. “Our goal at the start of the season was to get up there. Whether it was a first or second, we wanted to get back on that podium."

The Lady Panthers took second to Class C champ Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse.

Seventh grade sensation Catalina Ersing was the second for the Newfane girls (29th), coming in at 21:48, followed sophomore Lydia Chunco (41st) and the Burkards, sophomore Vanessa (45th) and junior Nina (46th). Other competitors for Newfane at states were eighth graders Shelby Nerber and Leah Siegmann.

Rounding out the Newfane girls' 2017 roster are juniors Caitlin Clack, Laura Dixon and Mary Dixon, sophomores Madeline Myers and Allison Siegmann, freshman Marina Ersing and eighth grader Bridget Martin. 

Here's a look back at the final six months of 2017 in local sports (part 1 appeared in the New Year's Eve edition of the US&J).

Happy New Year!

JULY

1 — Medina’s Jesse Cotriss and Middleport’s Derek Wagner won the biggest two races Friday night at Ransomville Speedway, taking the Krown Undercoating Modified and the Investors Service Sportsman features, respectively.

2 — Nine N-O girls basketball players — Maddie Mocarski, Morgan Faery, Sarah Lewis, Sarah Yousett, Shea Munnikhuysen, Amanda Murray, Julie Reagan, Skylar Munnikhuysen, Anna Frerichs and Caitlynn Snook — attend the University of North Carolina’s Team Basketball Camp at Chapel Hill. 

3 — The Rochester Americans add more depth, signing defenseman Andrew MacWilliam to a one-year AHL contract. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound MacWilliam played 12 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014-15, recording two assists. The 27-year-old spent last season with the Albany Devils, compiling five assists and 100 penalty minutes in 63 games. He has four goals and 36 points in 252 career AHL appearances.

4 — Mike Lesakowski grabs the 11-Day Power Play flag and leads the victory lap around the HarborCenter. After 11 grueling days Lesakowski and his 39 brothers break the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the longest continuous hockey game. In the process, the group raises $1.2M for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

5 — The grand prizes keep getting grander at the 27th Erie Barge Canal Fishing Derby, which gets underway today on canal waters between Tonawanda and Albion, including Lockport, Pendleton, Gasport and Middleport. Derby founder and executive director Steve Harrington says this year’s Adult Division grand prize is a new fishing boat, motor and trailer supplied by Brobeil Marine of Buffalo. The Kids' Division grand prize is a new canal trail bike. Daily prizes include heaviest fish of the day. Fifty tagged fish worth $10,000 in prizes is also up for grabs, with a chance to win a new fishing kayak.

6 — Miguel Andujar hits a walk-off, two-run single with one out in the 11th inning and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeat the Buffalo Bisons, 4-3, sweeping a three-game series.

7 — Gasport’s Richard Udell hauls in a 21.32-pound carp to lead in the adult carp division in the 27th Erie Barge Canal Fishing Derby. The kids’ carp division leader at 11.97 pounds is Olivia Dunkelberger of Burt. The kids’ bass leader with a 1.9-pound catch is Kylie McKinney of Lockport. Tonawanda’s Joe Cwiklinski records a 4.19-pound catfish to lead in that class.

8 — The Buffalo Sabres lock up one of their restricted free agents, signing center Johan Larsson to a two-year, $2.95 million contract. The average length of a nine-inning Major League Baseball game this season is a record 3 hours, 5 minutes — up from an even 3 hours last year and 2:56 in 2015.

9 — The first tagged fish in the 2017 Erie Barge Canal Fishing Derby is caught — only it’s a tagged fish from last year’s event! Derby directors Steve and Lynn Harrington report a tagged bass is caught by Lockport’s Walter Miller and turned into the Les Allen Bait & Tackle Shop on Hawley Street. When the Harrington’s read the tag number, they realized it's a fish tagged in 2016. The catch and location are reported to state officials, who like to keep track of fish movement.

10 — The Lockport Boys Basketball camp returns this week at Lockport High School, under the direction of LHS boys varsity head coach Dave Gilson.

11 — Local youths are getting their kicks in at the 2017 Lockport Soccer Camp at the Kenan Center soccer fields on Beattie Avenue. Returning camp head director is Jeff Hulshoff, one of the winningest soccer coaches in LHS history. Hulshoff is assisted at the instructional camp by Clarence girls modified soccer coach Jessica Hulshoff and former Lady Lions soccer players that include Meaghan King Hulshoff and Katie Helms.

12 — Newly-signed Swedish center Marcus Davidsson, 18, who was picked last month by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, 37th overall, begins practicing with the team at developmental camp in Buffalo.

13 — The Rochester Americans add another assistant coach, naming former NHL forward Toby Petersen, 38, to head coach Chris Taylor’s AHL staff. Petersen spent the last two seasons as an assistant with the AHL Cleveland Monsters, winning a Calder Cup in 2016. The Minneapolis native played 398 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars, scoring 33 goals and 81 points. He also played 550 AHL contests, compiling 148 goals and 374 points.

14 — Ransomville's Allan Wills picks up the first modified victory of his career right in his own backyard, holding off his cousin, Kenny Wills, for first place in the modified feature race at Ransomville Speedway. Brett Senek (Ransomville), Brandon Sherwood (Sanborn), Cole Susice (Ransomville), Chris Leone (Niagara Falls) and Cameron Tuttle (Wilson) also earned victories, keeping the winners’ circle local on the extended night of racing.

15 — Jason Hosfeld does everything but raise the West End flag in Week 4 action of the Lockport Horseshoe League, winning three games for the Redmen Club in their 16-14 victory over the Barker Ringers at Outwater Park. Bebe Bucolo does even one better, earning four victories for the Redmen. Gasport's Gage Frombgen leads the Bullhead Kids' Division with a 1.22-pound catch in the 2017 Erie Barge Canal Fishing Derby.

16 — Lockport's Joe “Son of a Legend” Taylor shakes off a close, split-decision loss two months ago to Canadian Joe George at the Kenan Arena by knocking out the man who once beat George, Ariel Sepulveda of the Dominican Republic, at Glory 43, at boxing’s greatest venue in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York City. Taylor makes history as the first Lockportian ever to post a ring victory at MSG.

17 — Miguel Andujar cracks a run-scoring single in the seventh inning to give the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre RailRiders a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Bisons. Billy McKinney scores on the play after he reached base with a double. In the top of the second, Scranton/WB grabs the lead on a sacrifice fly by Mark Payton that plates Andujar. Buffalo answers in the fifth when Gregorio Petit hits an RBI single, scoring Andrew Guillotte.

18 — There are yet no tagged fish caught in this year’s Erie Barge Canal Fish Derby, but three tagged fish from last year’s derby are caught — two by derby veteran Jeff Kinney of Lockport. The chances of veteran winger Brian Gionta returning to the Buffalo Sabres for his 16th NHL season “are pretty remote,” his agent says.

19 — Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the 2017 Midget League Baseball All-Star Game in Gasport are New York State Assemblyman Michael Norris and Union-Sun & Journal sports editor John D'Onofrio.

20 — For just the second time in Newfane High School history, a varsity home football game will be played under the lights this fall. Jeff Brown, president of the Newfane Sports Boosters, and the man responsible for putting together the first Newfane varsity home football game under the lights two years ago, announces that head coach Chuck Nagel’s Panthers will host the Lewiston-Porter Lancers at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, behind Newfane Middle School. Brown's inaugural effort at such a venue in 2015 attracted well over 2,000 people.

21 — After winning a regional championship in a late June tournament in Hamburg, Starpoint competes this week in the USA Football 7-on-7 National Championship Series in Canton, Ohio. The Spartans are coached by Lockport native Al Cavagnaro. “Lockport Inner City Youth Day” is held at the Cornerstone Arena, featuring free skating for local inner city youths, as well as pizza, ice cream and other treats for those attending.

22 — Stanford University junior this fall Brandon Wu shoots a 6-under 64, playing bogey-free and pulling away on the back nine to win the 2017 Porter Cup Amateur Golf Tournament at Niagara Falls Country Club with a four-day 269 (11-under). Wu’s final round score is tied for third-lowest all time for a Porter Cup winner, one stroke above 63s shot by Phil Mickelson’s in 1990 and Vinny Giles in ‘73. 

23 — University at Buffalo basketball player Quate McKinzie faces criminal charges of second-degree strangulation — a Class D felony — misdemeanor criminal obstruction of breathing, assault, menacing and harassment, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, stemming from an incident in the City of Tonawanda. McKinzie, while appearing in Tonawanda City Court, is additionally charged with two Class E felonies, third-degree witness intimidation and first degree criminal contempt, and two more misdemeanors, aggravated harassment and disobeying a court mandate. 

24 — Lockport budding tennis star Shannon Britt, 12, the daughter of Mo and Colleen Britt of Lockport, earns back-to-back tournament titles over the past several weeks at the prestigious Miller Tennis Center in Williamsville. Shannon places first at both the City Mattress Tennis Tournament on July 23 and two weeks later, also won the Daemen College Tournament, both held at the Miller Center.

25 — The Buffalo Sabres avoid arbitration with goalie Robin Lehner, signing him to a one-year, $4M contract. The Sabres go with a short-term deal in signing the restricted free agent. In his first full season as an NHL starter in 2016-17, Lehner, 26, went 23-26-8 with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 59 games.

26 — Amherst's Keegan Walczak is the grand prize winner of a new fishing boat at the Erie Barge Canal Fishing Derby Banquet at the Gasport Fire Hall. First-place Adult Division winners honored are Walczak (Northern Pike), Medina's Todd Wells (sheephead), Tonawanda's Albert Whaley (walleye), Lyndonville's Anthony Moule (bullhead), North Tonawanda's Chris Walczak (bass) and Chris Rizzo (catfish); and Buffalo's Michael Boncore (carp).

27 — Jacob Benzinger of North Carolina is the Kids Division grand prize winner of a new kayak at the Erie Barge Canal Fishing Derby Banquet at the Gasport Fire Hall. Kids Division winners honored are Benzinger (sheephead), Pendleton's Lillian Arida (bullhead), Lockport's Blake Hicks (walleye), Gasport's Joe Terranova (carp), Depew's Joe Cwiklinski (catfish) and Lewiston's Gianni Etopia (Northern pike).

28 — Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins says his surgically repaired left foot finally feels fine and he has no concerns about his future. The Bills open training camp in Pittsford. “I have nothing to prove. I know what I’m capable of doing. My job is to go out there and earn it this year. And if I’m healthy on the field and I’m out there playing with the guys, I’ll be all right,” he says.

29 — It's a “dream come true” for legally blind cyclist Michael Robertson, a native of Maine who's peddling a bike across the country. Robertson stopped in Lockport this week. He started the Shared Vision Quest on June 26 in Anacortes, Washington and he’ll end his destination shortly in Lubec, Maine. Robertson says his group strives to show that people with disabilities can still live their dreams. “Just because you have a visual disability doesn’t mean you’re pigeon-holed into this one stereotype,” he says.

30 — Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, entering his 12th season in Buffalo, says he doesn’t want to hear about two-or three-year “rebuilding plans” anymore, either. “As far as tempering expectations, it won’t happen here,” he says at the team's training camp in Pittsford. “My expectations are to win.”

31 — Lockport native Robbie Cehulik, 12, an eighth grader at St. John Lutheran in North Tonawanda, competes with distinction at the U.S. Kids World Golf Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Cehulik, who is in junior programs at both the Niagara County Golf Course in Lockport and Shelridge Country Club in Medina, fires a 78 and wins a three-hole playoff to take first in the U.S. Kids tournament at the International Country Club of Canada in April, then claims the Spring Tour Championship in June to earn the invitation to the World Championship.

AUGUST

1 — The Buffalo Sabres re-sign defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to a two-year, $4.8M contract. Los Angeles reaches an agreement with International Olympic leaders that opens the way for the city to host the 2028 Summer Games, while ceding the 2024 Games to rival Paris. The deal will make LA a three-time Olympic city, after hosting the 1932 and 1984 summer games.

2 — Members of Lockport Pizza Hut, 2017 champions of the Lockport Little League 18-U Softball League, are Tatum Green, Isabela Janese, Meghan Noonan, Sydney Lakeman, Kiara Paoletti, Angie Moran, Alexandra Ward, Kendra Evans, Morgan Kinzie, Caitlyn Kinzie, Olivia Evans, Jordan Ragland, Asja Johnson, Kayleigh Yarbrough and Jadynn Doel-Morales. Their head coach is Shannon Szalanski, assisted by Laura Kociolowicz.

3 — Lockport’s An-Jo Bombers 13-U travel baseball team earns a national runner-up finish at the prestigious Ripken Experience Tidal Wave Tournament in Myrtle Beach S.C. Team members are Tyler Baes, Tyler Baker, Joe Blackley, Gavyn Boyle, Noah Hardy, Trevor Heschke, Michael Jarosz, Nathan Lee, Nick Martin, Tim Obringer and Gabe Schrader and Josh Seyse. Coaches are Jake Baes, Phil Schrader and Jason Boyle.

4 — Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio are defensive lineman Jason Taylor, kicker Morten Anderson, running back Terrell Davis, safety Kenny Easley, president and general manager Jerry Jones, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Kurt Warner.

5 — Dwight Smith smacks three hits and scores two runs as the Buffalo Bisons top the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 8-2, at Cola-Cola Field. Buffalo starts the scoring in the first inning when Teoscar Hernandez hits a two-run double. The Bisons later add five runs in the third and one in the fourth. In the third, Danny Jansen belts a two-run double, while Smith cracks an RBI single in the fourth.

6 — A visit to a specialist has Buffalo Bills starting left tackle Cordy Glenn feeling reassured regarding a sore left foot that’s bothered him for much of the offseason.

7 — Martin Truex Jr. Truex holds off a charging Matt Kenseth on the final lap to win NASCAR's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International. It's just the second road course victory of his career.

8 — The 2017 Lockport Lions Summer Swimming and Diving camps are underway at Lockport High School pool, sponsored by the Lockport Sunrise Optimist Club. Veteran LHS boys coaches Kevin Clark and John Sullivan are joined by fellow swim and stroke instructors LHS girls coach Steve Kojsza, Canisius College coach Colin MacDonald and veteran Lockport diving coach Jasper Adams.

9 — Waterloo native Matt Sheppard wins the 33rd running of the Summer Nationals at Ransomville Speedway, taking the Big Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series main event and a cool $6,000. Also finding Victory Lane at the Big R are local favorites Wilson’s Chris Burek and Wheatfield’s Pete Stefanski.

10 — Lockport Little League’s 11-and-under travel team clinches the championship. Members of the team are Travis Pollow, Sam Smith, Jared Barry, Camryn Oudette, Anthony Gagliardi, Eathon Eiss, Brayden Secrist, Joshua Snyder, Ryan McKinney, Ethan Ernst, Jadon Baker and Eric Stein. The team is coached by Jason Oudette, Don Barry and Scott McKinney.

11 — The Buffalo Bills’ offseason overhaul isn’t over yet with receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby the latest players to be sent packing. The Bills deal both starters in separate blockbuster trades, as part of an effort to reshape the roster under new coach Sean McDermott. Watkins is traded to the Los Angeles Rams, while Darby is sent to the Philadelphia Eagles. Buffalo acquires receiver Jordan Matthews from Philadelphia and cornerback E.J. Gaines from the Rams.

12 — The 15th annual Wilson Harbor Hoops 3-on-3 Tournament is held at Clark’s Park, sponsored by the Wilson Community Enhancement. Among those set to compete tonight in a mixed martial arts card at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls is Newfane native Jeremy Stopa, a successful wrestler in high school and college.

13 — Among those named to the Lockport High School “Distinguished Alumni” are Anthony Caridi (Class of 1980), who is recognized as the state of West Virginia’s most popular sports voice. A multiple winner of the West Virginia Sportscaster of the Year award, Caridi has hosted his own nightly statewide sports talk show on the Metro News Radio Network since 1986.

14 — Lockport’s U-12 An-Jo Bombers baseball team is headed to Cooperstown next week to compete in a national tournament that will feature more than 100 teams from across the country. Players are David Adams, Peyton Anderson, Blaze Brimley, Kevin Daskavtz, Matt Flatau, Jake Golombek, Bryce Jones, Alex Kirk, Tyler Papaj, Aiden Pitts, Dominic Schiavitti and Aidan Winslow. The Bombers (33-15) are coached by Tony Schiavitti, assisted by Joe Anderson, Jon Daskavitz, Ryan Jones and Ryan Winslow.

15 — Buffalo Bills wide receiver Jordan Matthews is sidelined indefinitely because of a chip fracture in his sternum. The team lists Matthews as week to week, and general manager Brandon Beane says he’s hopeful the newly-acquired player will be ready for the season opener in four weeks.

16 — Most of the key returners on head coach Jeff Hulshoff's 2017 Lockport boys varsity soccer Lions are defensemen, including senior co-captains Garrett Yensan and Steve Daskavitz. Yensan, a standout lacrosse player, returns to the soccer field after missing last season due to a broken shoulder suffered during the previous lax campaign. Daskavitz brings everyday toughness and smarts to the equation.

17 — Two Lockport “New Beginnings” 3-on-3 basketball teams, an 11-12-year-old division team; and a 15-16 team, each earn championships at the prestigious Harbor Hoops Tournament. The 11-12 team members are Dolvan Robinson, Anthony Bohlman, Dray Akin and Teaven Haney. Devon Darrell, Torree Cheatham, Kenyatta Houston and Tivon White make up the 15-16-year-old team. Both teams are coached by Andre and Geraldine Akin.

18 — At LHS, the upcoming new, football season brings with it the much-anticipated return of one of Western New York’s top high school quarterbacks in senior southpaw Javon Ford of the Lions. Bills coach Sean McDermott voices his support for starting QB Tyrod Taylor a day after providing a non-committal answer regarding his status immediately following Buffalo's 20-16 preseason loss this week to the Philadelphia Eagles.

19 — LHS 2009 graduate and former Lions swim star Stephen Kojsza is the new head coach of the Lady Lions varsity tennis team. Seattle pro football player Michael Bennett sits on the Seahawks’ bench before his team's preseason game against Minnesota — the second straight week he's remained seated while the “Star-Spangled Banner” is played. 

20 — Head coach Liz Smorol's 2017 LHS boys varsity volleyball Lions are favorites to repeat as league champions after coming up just a few points short of the Section VI large school title a year ago, losing to Clarence in three sets in the finals. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin abruptly announces his retirement less than two weeks after signing with the Buffalo Bills.

21 — Residents in Lockport and throughout Western New York, including sports fans, have a great view of today’s historic solar eclipse that dissected the entire continental United States — the first time of its kind in about 100 years. Up by the lake, the Wilson Star Search group hosts a Solar Eclipse Day event at Calvin E. Krueger Park.

22 — Leading head coach Laura Baker's defending league-champion Lady Lions swim team this fall are 11 seniors, some of whom have been an active part of the program since the seventh grade, including Riley Adams, Megan Tatro and multiple school record holder Katie Pollock, whose name could appear on almost every single line of the school’s all-time record board by the end of this season.

23 — Gina Artieri, a 2017 LHS graduate and the daughter of Jeffrey and Denise Artieri of Lockport, earns a prestigious scholarship that honors life-long YMCA and LHS swim coach Kevin Clark. The National Honor Society student-athlete is a lifeguard at the Lockport Family YMCA, where she has also been a longtime member of the swim team. She plans to attend Alfred University this fall, majoring in Elementary Education, while hoping to gain coaching certification.

24 — The “Road to the Ralph” is going to be a little bit tougher this year than in years past for veteran head coach Al Cavagnaro's Starpoint football Spartans, losing one of their top two-way players — Tajay Ahmed — to graduation. The good news is the garnet and gray return two of Class A's top players in running back Anthony Robinson and quarterback Aaron Chase.

25 — Injuries and a half dozen key losses to graduation will slow down, but not stop the LHS girls volleyball program this season. Sixth-year head coach Kim Lockie’s Lady Lions are optimistic for another solid season this fall, despite pre-season ankle injuries to at least two key starters, junior Kourtney Krchniak and sophomore Sam Coakley.

26 — It's “Scrimmage Saturday” for high school football teams throughout the state, including Lockport's Max D. Lederer Field. New England Patriots star wide receiver Julian Edelman will miss the 2017 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in a preseason game.

27 — Head coach Liz Smorol’s talented LHS boys volleyball team defeats Canisius in the finals of the Clarence Tournament in a classic, see-saw, three-set nail-biter. The Lions win the first game, 25-20, dropping the second, 20-25, then going on to win the deciding third set, 16-13.

28 — Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is sent home by rookie head coach Sean McDermott after violating an unspecified team rule. Dareus says he takes full responsibility and adds that he’s “crystal clear” of what’s expected of him, following a lengthy conversation with McDermott after practice this week.

29 — Head coach Don Baker’s Barker/Royalton-Hartland varsity football team team returns a solid core of senior and junior players, led by co-captains Salvatore Gioeli, Aaron Curry, Malik Smith and Gavyn Samanka. Hannah Mullen plays a strong game in goal for LHS and Sherrie Kowal finds a seam in the North Tonawanda defense to score a goal, but the visiting Lady Jacks boot Lockport, 2-1, in NFL girls soccer action.

30 — Key returners on head coach Chuck Nagel's Newfane varsity football Panthers this season include three-year starting quarterback Brandon Gross, who will share QB and slot duties with junior Shayne Harrington. Other starting returners in the Blue Zone are Junior Reese Casinelli at defensive back and wide receiver, sibling Ty Casinelli on the line and senior Chad Dunbar, who’s chalked up more than 100 career tackles.

31 — Clayton Wilson becomes the first head coach of Starpoint’s first-ever Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation League team. Key returners on the ice Spartans include senior center Luke Kenyon and senior defender Josh Wildt. And there’s plenty of youthful talent up front in junior forwards Chucky Schmidl and Brendan Dewey.

SEPTEMBER

1 — Killed in a tragic automobile accident last weekend in Erie County, Akron’s senior captain and team leader Johnny Fiebelkorn is honored in a way he would have wanted — a 23-8 Tigers’ victory over Barker/ Royalton-Hartland in the Section VI small school, non-divisional football opener for both schools under the lights at Bruno Pacini Field in Middleport.

2 — Ransomville's Erick Rudolph takes the checkered flag in the 50-lap finale for the Krown Undercoating Modifieds at the Ransomville Speedway. LHS senior quarterback Javon Ford runs for 171 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-42 Class AA loss to Niagara-Wheatfield at Terry Harvey Field in the Section VI football opener for both schools. 

3 — And that's a wrap for the Buffalo Bisons, a team whose stretch of missing the playoffs has now reached 12 seasons in a row. The Herd cap off the 2017 campaign with a 3-2 win at Syracuse on Labor Day. It's far too little, far too late as the Bisons finished in fifth place in the International League North Division with 65-76 record, 21 games behind first place Scranton-Wilkes/Barre.

4 — In somewhat of a surprise move, the Buffalo Bills cut running back Jonathan Williams, the player who was projected to be LeSean McCoy’s primary backup. The 2016 fifth-round selection is let go after the team is required to make room for three players acquired on waivers. Right-hander Justin Verlander is acquired by the Houston Astros from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for three minor leaguers.

5 — Katrina Clare scores a three-goal hat trick for head coach Jeff Costello's Barker Lady Raiders field hockey team in a Niagara-Orleans League season-opening 9-0 win over Newfane. ESPN reports that Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has passed his concussion protocol tests and will start the season opener this weekend against the New York Jets at New Era Field.

6 — Quinn Boyer scores the game's only goal off a feed from Hayden Coakley, giving the LHS soccer Lions their first win of the season, 1-0, over Niagara Falls. Nate Fox cards a 43 and Patrick Seeley adds a 46 for the Lakemen linksters in a 252-272 victory over Royalton-Hartland, topping N-O golf action. Madigan Lang is the match medalist for the Rams with a round of 40.

7 — The Lockport Elks get ready to host their annual Local Soccer Shoot at the Elks Soccer Field behind the lodge on North Canal Road. The program consists of two different contests that test different level skills at different ages. The 2017 Senior Porter Cup Senior Division leader up in Lewiston is Keith Decker with a two-round total of 137. Decker is trying to become just the fourth player to win back-to-back titles in the 29-year history of the event and the first since Ron Carter in 2010.

8 — Eight former Lockport athletic greats are inducted into the LHS Sports Hall of Fame at the Lockport Town & Country Club. They are Bob Pauley (coach 1966-96), Bob Verity (Class of 1969), Brad Brunne (1978), Kevin Haynes (1979), Theresa Mahar Dolan (1980), Carrie White (1992), Scott Finn (1999), Ryan Rimmer (2005) and Mark Russell (2005).

9 — Brandon Gross tosses three touchdown passes and runs for two more as the Newfane Panthers down the visiting Lewiston-Porter Lancers, 48-18, under portable lights at Newfane Middle School field. The game is just the second varsity night football contest in Newfane school history and the impressive win is an inspirational on for deserving veteran head coach Chuck Nagels’ Panthers (1-1) before a massive crowd estimated at 1,500.

10 — Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor shows no lingering signs of a concussion that sidelined him for two weeks by throwing two touchdown passes in a 21-12 win over the visiting New York Jets at New Era Field. The Washington Nationals become the first MLB team to clinch a playoff spot this season, winning the NL East with a 3-2 win over the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

11 — it’s taken just two weeks for the promising Lions spikers to establish themselves firmly as one of Western New York’s elite teams this fall. Two tournament wins (at Clarence and at Eden), a runner-up finish in their host tourney last week, a non-league win over Frontier and two straight NFL victories, including a straight-set win over visiting Ken East, has head coach Liz Smorol’s talented team sitting at 2-0.

12 — Niagara County Legislator Tony Nemi is honored for his 40 years of umpiring with induction into the Lockport Umpire’s Association Hall of Fame at the annual dinner banquet at Danny Sheehan”s Steak House. The emcee for the evening is association president Michael Stover. Dylan Robb and Anthony Haak each tally three go her second shutout of the season in goal for LHS.

13 — Senior Hanna Mullen earns her second shutout of the season in goal for head coach Jessica O’Donoghue’s LHS Lady Lions soccer team in a 3-0 NFL win over visiting CSAT. Alyssa Schieb, Megan Krulisky and Krista Wander find the net for Lockport. Roy-Hart's Kodey Hayes earns the shutout in goal, while Noah Kindron nets a goal and adds an assist in a 3-0 N-O boys soccer victory at Medina.

14 — Starpoint senior running back Anthony Robinson has carried the load for head coach Al Cavagnaro's Spartans, already eclipsing 300 total rushing yards in two wins to start the season. In their season opener against Will East, Robinson rushed for 151 yards. Last week against Ken West, he adds 155 more.

15 — Tyree Jackson has passing and rushing touchdowns on UB’s opening two series and the Bulls defeated Colgate 33-10 in front of announced crowd of 11,546 at UB Stadium. In Pittsburgh, head coach Jeff Costello's Barker Lady Raiders field hockey team gets an OT goal from Sierra Gregoire in a 3-2 win over Mt. Lebanon. Barker goalie Cara Fox makes six saves, including a big one in the extra session.

16 — Abigail McGowan and Lauren Shanley earn wins at singles in a 4-1 LHS Lady Lions tennis win over visiting Lew-Port. Posting doubles victories for the blue and gold are the tandems of Julia Frank-Bethany Sielski and Abigail Alex-Sara McIntyre. Lockport’s Sydney Nowicki places 10th overall in Division I in the Wayne Eagle Invitational, a pre-states cross country event held in Ontario Center. On the boys side, Simon Powley leads the Lions with a 65th-place finish.

17 — One of the longest-running, annual scholastic canned food drives in Western New York, Athletes Against Hunger, is another huge success. The brainchild of retired LHS athletics director Patrick M. Burke, the humanitarian effort is picked up enthusiastically by the current LHS AD Todd Sukdolak. More than 300 LHS student-athletes participating in fall sports knock on doors throughout the city and Town of Lockport, collecting canned goods to help stock our local community soup kitchens. The Carolina Panthers beat the visiting Buffalo Bills, 9-3.

18 — In Wilson, Skylar Munnikhuysen nets 2 goals and adds an assist in a 9-0 N-O girls soccer victory over visiting Barker. Maddie Austin, Melanie Gray,Julia Seider,Emily Kelly,Sarah Lewis, Lilly O’Lay and Grace Gerber also score for the Lakewomen (4-2 N-O). Lions senior co-captain Jesse Donorovich posts 5 kills, 11 digs and 2 blocks in Lockport's 3-0 boys volleyball victory over visiting Niagara Falls. 

19 — Lady Lions senior swimmer Katie Pollock, already the holder of five school and two LHS pool records wins the 500 freestyle in a sectional qualifying time of 5:27.86 in an NFL victory over visiting Ken East. Pollock is expected to challenge for Elizabeth Connolly’s 2013 500 freestyle school record of 5:15.26.

20 — At first singles, Lockport's Erin Haley defeats Ken East's Holly Kaiser, 6-1, 6-2, in a 5-0 Lady Lions victory over the visiting Lady Bulldogs. Starpoint's Lydia Gielow and Mikaela Sirica earn singles wins in a 4-1 Lady Spartans ECIC girls tennis win over Lake Shore.

21 — “If Katie Pollock isn’t the greatest female swimmer in Lockport history, then who is?” pens US&J sports editor John D'Onofrio in a column. Pollock now holds more than twice as many individual school records (five) than any other single person. She owns the all-time record in the 200 individual medley (2:08.66), 50 freestyle (:23.73), 100 butterfly (:58.78), 100 freestyle (:51.55) and 100 backstroke (1:00.29).

22 — Lockport's gutsy first-singles player Erin Haley demonstrates both poise and toughness in a 2-6- 6-4, 6-2 come-from-behind victory over Grand Island's Kiersten Brown in the Lady Lions’ 3-2 NFL victory over the visiting Lady Vikings. The Buffalo Bills will be without left tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus when they host the Denver Broncos this weekend.

23 — Julian Nixon and Brandon Gross combined for seven rushing touchdowns and head coach Chuck Nagel’s Newfane football Panthers improve to 2-1 with a 50-0 Class B victory at Tonawanda.

24 — Tyrod Taylor completes 20 of 26 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns and the Bills beat the visiting Broncos, 26-16, knocking Denver from the NFL unbeaten ranks. E.J. Gaines and rookie Tre’Davious White each intercept Broncos' QB Trevor Siemian. President Donald Trump’s harsh criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem sparks a mass increase in such protests around the National Football League.

25 — Riley Adams touches first in both the 50 freestyle (:26.79) and 500 freestyle (5:44.42), while sibling Delaney Adams wins the 100 breaststroke in 1:20.87 for the Lady Lions in a 117-69 girls swim victory over the Lady Vikings. Cam Stanton earns a shutout in goal for Newfane, making seven saves, in a 1-0 N-O boys soccer win over Roy-Hart, in Gasport.

26 — Newfane senior Samuel Auernhamer places first in the race in 17:12 and teammate Collin McCabe this third, as head coach Mike Heitzenrater’s cross country Panthers get off the blocks quickly in 2017 with a sweep over both Albion and host Medina. Barker’s Gabrielle Baker is first in 22:25, Barker’s Serena Harris is second and Wilson’s Shea Munnikhuysen third in a 25-31 Wilson victory over Barker, topping girls N-O cross country action.

27 — Lockport's Drew Borek is the match medalist with a card of 41 at the Niagara Frontier Golf Club, as head coach Tim Trotter’s Lions linksters improved to 3-8 in the NFL with a 308-311 victory over host Lew-Port. Ellen Weber, Lydia Gielow and Mikaela Sirica earn singles wins for the garnet and gray in Starpoint's 5-0 ECIC girls tennis win over Cheektowaga.

28 — Starpoint hasn’t lost a game in regular season league play in almost three years, but Grand Island has other plans, shutting down a juggernaut Spartans offense and handing the visitors a 33-7 Class A loss on the Isle. Wade Rick, Brayden Dunlap and Drew Westmorland are a three-headed monster in the Wilson backfield, as the Lakemen run for 291 yards in a 28-6 Class C North win at Eden/ North Collins, their second straight win.

29 — Newfane's Reese Casinelli does everything but babysit assistant coach John Vosburgh’s newborn son, scoring three spectacular touchdowns in Newfane’s impressive, 41-14, Class B football victory over visiting Alden. It's the fourth straight win for head coach Chuck Nagel's impressive team.

30 — Lockport’s Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool, a veteran local baseball umpire, is featured on the front page of the US&J. Dool, 37, is the son of Chris and Pat Dool. Stephen Hauschka kicks a tie-breaking, 56-yard field goal with less than five minutes remaining and the Bills make a last-minute defensive stand to shock the Falcons, 23-17, in Atlanta.

OCTOBER

1 — The Sabres send winger Nick Baptiste, 22, one of their prospects expected to contend for an NHL spot this season, to the Rochester Americans. Baptiste, a third-round pick in 2013, scored 25 goals and 41 points in 59 games with the Amerks last season. He also added three goals and four points in his first 14 NHL appearances.

2 — Former Lockport baseball star Cory Brownsten, a life-long “student of the game” mentally as well as physically, is hired as the new manager of the Coastal Plain League’s Florence Red Wolves. Brownsten was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 15th round of 2010 Major League Baseball draft and spent four seasons in the Braves’ minor league system.

3 — The Buffalo Sabres and center Jack Eichel, 20, finalize the largest contract in franchise history, an eight-year extension worth a whopping $80 million. Former LaSalle High School and University of Buffalo star athlete Modie Cox, gives an inspirational motivational speech to a joint group of student-athletes from both Lockport and Niagara Falls high schools at the LHS auditorium.

4 — Mateo May (3 goals, 2 assists) and Trevor Moreland (3 goals, 1 assist) combined to chalk up an incredible nine points in Newfane's 8-0 N-O boys soccer victory at Medina. With the win, head coach Sean McDonnell’s visiting Panthers (10-4, 8-1) clinch at least a tie for their third straight league championship.

5 — Junior outside hitter Zach Schneider leads the Lions with 13 kills and 8 digs in Lockport's 25-11, 25-11, 25-12 boys volleyball victory at North Tonawanda. With the win, head coach Liz Smorol's Lions clinch the NFL championship. Delaney Draper and Alexis Lovewell find the net for Roy-Hart in a 2-0 N-O field hockey win at Newfane. 

6 — The Wilson football team needs an 11-point win to lock up home field advantage for the first round of the Class C playoffs and they get just that in a game Lakemen head coach Bill Atlas said was the best he’s ever been apart of — a 52-28 victory over visiting JFK at Walter J. Hutchinson Field. WJH Field was dedicated on Sept. 14, 2001.

7 — Two Newfane linemen, junior Ty Casinelli and Section VI Trench Trophy consideration senior Connor Hill, are the catalysts for the Panthers in a 27-18 Section VI football victory over Barker/Roy-Hart on a summer-like afternoon that drew hundreds from all points on the county map and beyond to the large open field behind BHS on “Homecoming.”

8 — Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green a contributes to three turnovers that keeps the game close, but he also has a 77-yard touchdown and another long catch that sets up the go-ahead score, rallying Cincinnati to a 20-16 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills, in a steady rain. The Buffalo Sabres open the 2017-18 NHL regular season with two straight losses.

9 — Rebecca Schrader, Emma Schad, Hannah Dlugosz and Sherri Kowal all score goals for the LHS Lady soccer Lions in a 4-0 NFL victory at Niagara Falls. Kourtney Krchniak records 28 assists, 5 kills and 2 aces, Ally Criswell adds 7 kills and Jasmine White chips in with 7 kills and 5 aces as the Lady Lions volleyball team defeats Ken West, 16-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21.

10 — LHS senior swim star Katie Pollock sets a school record in the 100 breaststroke during the Lady Lions'103-83 NFL loss to visiting Niagara-Wheatfield, making her the incredible holder of six of Lockport’s eight girls all-time individual records. Pollock's first-place time of 1:06.45 bests the former Lady Lions’ breaststroke record of 1:06.53 set 13 years ago by the great Ashley Schaffert.

11 — Senior co-captain Marc Bixby records 7 kills and 19 assists for Lockport in a straight-set victory over visiting Grand Island. With the win, head coach Liz Smorol’s formidable, top-ranked Lions improve to an NFL-best 11-0 and are 13-0 overall.

12 — A federal appeals court clears the way for the NFL to impose a six-game suspension on Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott over domestic violence allegations, siding with the league in the latest high-profile fight over its ability to punish players for off-field behavior.

13 — Brandon Gross and Julian Nixon rush for three touchdowns apiece under the lights, lifting the Newfane Panthers past their rival host, the Wilson Lakemen, 47-20, in a non-league game played at jam-packed Walter J. Hutchison Field. With the win, head coach Chuck Nagel’s visiting Panthers finish 6-1 this season (4-1 in Class B-3) and are headed the playoffs for the first time in almost a quarter century.

14 — Taking a pitch from quarterback Nick Cascia, LHS special needs student Mike Eggert sweeps right, untouched, 10 yards into the end zone for a touchdown on an “unofficial” play from scrimmage during the Lions' 18-12 Homecoming grid loss to Starpoint at festive Max D. Lederer Field. The LHS 2017 Homecoming King and Queen are seniors Bryce Buetiger and Jada Jenkins,

15 — The winless Buffalo Sabres recall winger Justin Bailey prior to their road game against the Anaheim Ducks. Bailey, 22, has two goals in three AHL games this season. The Williamsville native was one of the last Sabres player assigned to Rochester in training camp. To make room for Bailey, the Sabres scratch winger Seth Griffith, who has one assist in five games.

16 — Head coach Kim Lockie’s LHS Lady Lions post their biggest volleyball win of the season, defeating the previously-undefeated Niagara-Wheatfield Lady Falcons in four sets, 3-1. Kourtney Krchniak finishes the game with 23 assists, 16 digs and 4 aces.

17 — LHS harrier Simon Powley finishes first in the boys race in 18:13, followed by teammates, Jonny Lang (2nd), Lucas Powley (3rd), Owen Szantor (4th), Josh Ferraro (5th), Owen White (6th) and Kenny Currie (7th) in a Lions' cross country win over both North Tonawanda (15-50) and CSAT (15-50), at Beaver Island.

18 — Starpoint's Max Balko is the offensive star, scoring twice and adding an assist, as the No. 2-seeded soccer Spartans handle their business against No. 7 Lake Shore, 4-0, advancing to the Class A-2 semifinals. Adam Rankie earn the shutout in goal for the garnet and gray.

19 — The Newfane School Board approves the latest addition to the district’s sports program — a unified bowling program. The team will begin its inaugural season on Jan. 29. Julia Mascaro, Kristin Pickard and Morgan Henry all score for the fifth-seeded Starpoint Lady Spartans in a 3-1 Class A-2 girls soccer quarterfinal upset win over the No. 4 Iroquois Lady Chiefs.

20 — In Cheektowaga, Newfane's Brandon Gross’ Hail Mary heave into the end zone falls incomplete as time expires and the visiting Panthers bow to Maryvale, 18-15, in a see-saw Class B-1 football quarterfinal under the lights. Gross rushes for well over 150 yards with a touchdown rushing and passing, but it isn’t enough as head coach Chuck Nagel’s Panthers finish their breakthrough 2017 season at 6-2.

21 — Niagara Falls Boxing Hall of Fame trainer Ray Casal — a Lockport native — is featured at his Maryland Avenue boxing club. The Newfane Panthers soccer team loses to International-Prep, 4-3, in their sectional boys soccer B-1 semifinal at Sweet Home. 

22 — Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White strips the ball from Tampa Bay receiver Adam Humphries, setting up Stephen Hauschka’s 30-yard field goal with 14 seconds left to secure Buffalo’s 30-27 win over the Buccaneers. Notre Dame cracks the Top 10 in The Associated Press college football poll for the first time this season, coming in at No. 9.

23 — In the bitter end, Emily Foltz’s three-goal hat trick and assist does the trick in Newfane's 4-2 overtime win over Albion, sending head coach Chelsea Buzyniski-Johannssen’s Lady Panthers into the girls soccer Class B-1 final against N-O rival Albion. The Buffalo Sabres sign one of their top forward prospects, Cliff Pu, to a three-year, entry-level contract.

24 — Niagara Falls native Jermaine Crumpton, a red-shirted senior at Canisius College, and Niagara University senior Matt Scott, both earn preseason All MAAC first team men's basketball honors. They are joined on the preseason first team by Micah Seaborn (Monmouth), Zane Waterman (Manhattan) and Tyler Nelson (Fairfield).

25 — Starpoint's Katie Putney has six kills and two blocks, but it isn’t enough as No.6 Ken West beats the No.11 Lady Spartans in straight sets in their Section VI Class A pre-quarterfinal match at Ken West. Seth Jones has a goal and an assist for Columbus in a 5-1 win over the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

26 — Lockport star swimmer Katie Pollock wins the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 53.67 seconds and also swims a leg in the victorious 200-yard freestyle relay (1:46.56) with Lady Lions teammates Keara Darnell, Megan Tatro and Madelyn Timkey at the NFL girls swimming championships.

27 — The Buffalo Bills (4-2) trade nose tackle Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars, beefing up one of the NFL’s best defenses. The Jags (4-3) send a sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft to the Bills (4-2) in exchange for the 330-pound run-stopper, who has a checkered past. Will North beats host LHS, 28-26, 25-22, 25-19, advancing to the Class AA girls volleyball semis.

28 — Senior Samuel Auernhamer wins the boys race in 17:11 and his counterpart, junior Kimberly Goerss, wins the girls’ in 20:17, as Newfane's boys and girls cross country teams earn a clean sweep of the Niagara-Orleans League championship. Emily Foltz blasts a direct kick from about 20 yards out into the back of the net as Newfane knocks off N-O rival Albion, 1-0, at Will North to earn a second straight sectional Class B-1 girls soccer championship.

29 — Buffalo rookie linebacker Matt Milano scores the go-ahead touchdown on a 40-yard fumble return on a rain-slick field and the Bills defeat the visiting Oakland Raiders, 34-14. LeSean McCoy has a season-best 151 yards rushing and also scores on a 48-yard run.

30 — In the 60th minute, Newfane's Kaleigh Daniels chase down a pass while closing in on Akron goalie Laurie Poeller. Daniels beats Poeller to the ball, booting it into the bottom right corner of the net to complete a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over Akron in the Section VI Class B girls soccer crossover game at Will South.

31 — Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane reinforces his team’s patchwork group of receivers by acquiring Kelvin Benjamin in a trade with the Carolina Panthers that's completed just before the league deadline. In exchange, Carolina acquires third- and seventh-round picks in next year’s draft.

NOVEMBER

1 — Starpoint's Campbell Schoenfeld has 15 kills and teammate Elliot Becker adds 13 kills in the boys volleyball Spartans' 3-1 victory over Lake Shore in their Division II Class B quarterfinal.

2 — Aidan Morgan, Madison Fragale, Natalie Killion and William Rahill captured the 200 yard medley relay for the DeSales swim team and the Knights defeat St. Mary’s of Swormsville, 145-99, at the Buffalo State College Aquatics Center. The Jets beat the Bills, 34-21, in New Jersey.

3 — The Cornerstone Arena is co-hosting part of the annual RUSH Hockey Inferno Girls Hockey Tournament.. There are 76 girls hockey teams invading Western New York this weekend. Other host arenas locally include Buffalo Riverworks, North Buffalo Ice Rink, Dann Memorial Rink, Holiday Twin Rinks and Leisure Rinks.

4 — Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen misses the Sabres' road tilt at Dallas with an upper-body injury, meaning four of the team's top defensemen are injured. Ristolainen, the NHL’s leader in ice time with 27 minutes, 10 seconds a game, is day-to-day, Sabres coach Phil Housley says.

5 — The upcoming Section VI Class A boys volleyball championship match between Lockport and Williamsville North is a reunion of sorts for seven former members of the first Lockport Boys Volleyball Club team. Seven of the title match’s starters — five Lions and two Spartans — are former club members.

6 — A marathon first-set victory helps propel the top-seeded Lockport Lions to a straight set victory over No. 6 Will North in the Section VI Class A boys volleyball championship match at Lackawanna High School. The scores are 27-25, 25-17, 25-18.

7 — Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies, is killed when his private plane crashes into the Gulf of Mexico. He was 40.

8 — Lockport native Sam Volmy is the newest Niagara Purple Eagle men's basketball player. Volmy, who attends the Christian Academy of Western New York, is a late addition to the NU men’s basketball roster as a walk-on. He appeared in 14 games as a junior during the 201516 season for Alfred State, averaging four points in 6.5 minutes per contest.

9 — Newfane sends its state-qualifying cross country team off ceremoniously. A parade is held on Main Street starting at Ketchum Avenue. Well-wishers bid the Panthers farewell as they head to Ontario, N.Y., for this weekend state championships.

10 — Roberto Luongo breaks a tie with Curtis Joseph for fourth place on the NHL career victory list with 455, making 24 saves in the Florida Panthers’ 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Kyle Okposo scores for the Sabres, and Robin Lehner stops 27 shots.

11 — Newfane's girls cross country team takes second in Class C with 83 points and the Panthers boys take third with 79 points at the 2017 New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at Wayne Central School. Kimberly Goerss is the first Newfane girl to place (finishing fourth overall), coming home in 20:48. Auernhamer takes fourth in the boys' race, finishing in 17:15.

12 — The visiting New Orleans Saints blow out the Buffalo Bills, 47-10, in Orchard Park. Miami is back at No. 2 in The Associated Press college football poll, the Hurricanes’ best ranking since 2003, leaping five spots from No. 7 after routing Notre Dame last week.

13 — Sidney Crosby ends a long goal drought and assists on Conor Sheary’s game-winner 16 seconds into overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-4.

14 — Eighteen games into another trying NHL campaign, Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres has five goals and 16 points. Over an 82-game season, that equals 23 goals and 73 points. Those numbers would be fabulous for most NHL players, but Eichel, of course, is held to a higher standard, considering his $80M contract.

15 — In a dramatic change, the Buffalo Bills announce that starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor is being benched in favor of rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman when Buffalo (5-4) plays at the Los Angeles Chargers (3-6).

16 — Kevin Harvick wastes no time in leveling the first volley in NASCAR’s championship race. In Harvick’s opinion, he’s playing with house money when he races Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title. It’s Truex, Harvick believes, who faces all the pressure.

17 — Donel Cathcart (O’Hara) cans 20 points, adding 10 rebounds and three assists to lead the Niagara County Community College men's basketball team to an 81-63 victory over Potomac State. Shotgun deer hunting season opens. 

18 — Lockport's Joe Taylor, Erick Plumeri and Vahnessa Tankersley, along with Syracuse's Bryce Mills and the latest Team Andrello sensation, Damiana Andrello and Buffalo’s up-and-coming Eli Hernandez are all among the mixed martial arts winners on a festive night of professional boxing and kickboxing at “Hostile Territory” at the Kenan Arena.

19 — Juan Mendez (’05) becomes just the 13th men’s basketball player to have his name hung from the rafters of Niagara University's historic Gallagher Center in Lewiston. In Carson, Calif., Buffalo rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman throws five interceptions, two to Casey Hayward of the Chargers, in a 54-24 Los Angeles victory over the slumping Bills.

20 — Lockport’s hometown hero Daniel Bronson, a wide receiver on the University of Rochester football team, is honored with All-Liberty League awards for the 2017 season, as announced by the conference. Bronson received a Citizen Recognition Award last year from the New York State Police for his assistance in the apprehension of a robbery suspect in the Town of Lockport. Bronson chased and tackled a man who he witnessed snatching a purse from an elderly woman outside Cammarata’s Restaurant on Robinson Road.

21 — North Tonawanda graduate and Niagara County Community College sophomore Troy Keller has a solid weekend at the New York State Collegiate Championships, placing first in the 165-pound weight class at the championships hosted by SUNY Cortland. Keller is also named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

22 — Rather than risk another meltdown with the Bills still in the midst of the playoff race, coach Sean McDermott has little choice but to reverse course at quarterback. Tyrod Taylor will start on Sunday when Buffalo (5-5) travels to play the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4). Nino Nie derreiter and Mikael Granlund each score two goals to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

23 — Looking like a savvy winner, instead of a journeyman, Case Keenum picks apart Detroit’s defense with his arm and makes plays with his legs to help the Minnesota Vikings beat the Lions 30-23, on Thanksgiving.

24 — Jack Eichel, Jacob Josefson and Kyle Okposo score goals for Buffalo and Robin Lehner stops 29 shots as the Sabres snap a seven-game skid with a 3-1 win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

25 — Local and national celebrities, clowns, hockey greats from the past, present and future, a free public skating session and the highly-anticipated announcement of the 2018 Hall of Fame Class are among the dozens of activities in store throughout the day at the third annual Howell Motors Ford Hockey Day in Lockport at the Cornerstone CFCU Arena, downtown.

26 — Tyrod Taylor throws for 183 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City and the game is capped off by Tre’Davious White’s interception with about a minute remaining that clinches a much-needed 16-10 victory by the Buffalo Bills over Alex Smith and the Chiefs.

27 — The Section VI-champion LHS boys volleyball Lions dominate the NFL First Team with four all-star selections, seniors Jess Donorovich and Marc Bixby and juniors Sean Denniston and Zach Schneider. LHS senior Tyvon White and junior Rhees Perry are named to the NFL’s Second Team. Lions sophomore libero Colin Fragale caps his breakout varsity season with a Third Team selection.

28 — The Lockport Lady Lions’ girls tennis doubles tandem of senior Julia Frank and junior Bethany Sielski are named NFL’s First Team all-stars. LHS senior stalwart Erin Haley is named to the NFL’s Second Team in girls tennis and junior teammate Abigail McGowan is named to the Third Team in singles.

29 — Erie Barge Canal Fishing Derby founder Steve Harrington of Gasport dies suddenly. He's remembered fondly by not only his family and friends, but by the many men and women, boys and girls whose lives he touched with his annual, family-oriented summer event that ran for 27 consecutive years on canal waters between Tonawanda and Albion.

30 — Playing golf for the first time since his fourth back surgery, Tiger Woods returns from a 10-month layoff with a 3-under 69 on a breezy Thursday in the Bahamas that leaves him three shots behind Tommy Fleetwood after the opening round of the Hero World Challenge.

DECEMBER

1 — The Lockport ice Lions pick up a dramatic win in Federation Hockey League action, coming from behind to best Niagara Falls, 5-4. Jared Stahli nets two goals for Lockport. Syracuse professional fighter Kevin VanNostrand, who has fought and won several fights in recent years in Lockport, makes history at Madison Square Garden, knocking out Uzbekistan’s Anvar Boynzarov on worldwide television's “Glory,” which airs on ESPN.

2 — Newfane's Jack Capen, a 6-5 center at St. Joe's, scores 22 points and adds a half dozen rebounds — and that was at halftime, in the finals of the 40th Rotary Club of Lockport 40th Boys Tip-Basketball Tournament at Lockport High School. The All-Tourney Team selection Capen finishes with a game-high 33 points and his share of bumps and bruises in a 69-61 loss to Will East. The host Lockport Lions win the consolation contest, 54-51, over International-Prep.

3 — The New England Patriots win their eighth straight in a 23-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East showdown in Orchard Park overshadowed by injuries and cheap shots. Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski, a Will North graduate, is accused of a dirty hit after a pile-driving, shoulder-first late hit into the back of the head of Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White, who was laying on the field after making an interception with 4:50 remaining.

4 — Head coach Dave Gilson's 2017-18 boys varsity basketball Lions are featured. More than half the team (8 players) are seniors, led by starting point guard Devon “DD” Darrell, who transferred back to Lockport in the off-season after a stellar year at St. Francis. Fellow seniors Devin Leatherman, Luke Lawrence and lanky Tivon White, along with junior Torree Cheatham, are among those leading the charge.

5 — Six members of Lockport Flips Gymnastics compete with distinction recently at the annual Hula Meet at the Gymnastics Sports Academy. Sian Powell leads the Flips in Level 3, placing fourth all-around with a score of 35.425. Powell's effort includes a second-place finish on the bars (9.05), was eighth on vault (9.075) and 10th on the floor exercise (8.90).

6 — Legendary Barker field hockey coach Jude Otto, Roy-Hart state wrestling champion and United States Olympian Lou Rosselli and long-time Albion coach and administrator Dick Diminuco are among a dozen people inducted into the prestigious Section VI Hall of Fame at The Columns Banquet Hall in Elma. Rosselli is currently the head wrestling coach at the University of Oklahoma.

7 — Come game-time, Roy-Hart didn’t disappoint, knocking off East Aurora 45-37 in game two of the 18th Annual Cataract Classic at Wolvarena on Friday night. Jake Bruning and Noah Kindron combined for 9-of-11 in free throws to close the game.

8 — The Niagara County Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams earned wins in Genesee Community College’s Cougar Classic. The NCCC men blow out Durham (Ont.) College, 119-80, hitting 22 3-pointers. Leading scorers Donel Cathcart (25 points) and Laterrance Reed (24 points) combined to go 11 for 16 from deep. In women’s action, NCCC beat Roberts Wesleyan JV, 69-57. Dakaylah Winfield (Grand Island) chips in with 14 points and nine boards.

9 — Vladimir Tarasenko scores with 35 seconds left in overtime, and the short-handed St. Louis Blues beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Brayden Schenn and Paul Stastny also score, and Joel Edmundson record two assists as the Blues topped the Sabres for the 10th time in their last 11 meetings. Jake Allen makes 22 saves, improving to 5-1 in six career starts against Buffalo.

10 — Mush! LeSean McCoy scores on a 21-yard run with 1:33 left in overtime to secure the Buffalo Bills’ 13-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in a wintry, white-out setting best suited for snow shoes and sled dogs.

11 — LHS junior tri-captain Kourtney Krchniak, along with forwards senior Liz Mullane and sophomore Jasmine White combine for 26 points and 25 rebounds as head coach Joe Catalano's Lady Lions break open a close game with a 17-8 fourth-quarter run to defeat visiting North Tonawanda, 41-25, in NFL girls basketball action.

12 — Bills coach Sean McDermott says the team has placed left tackle Cordy Glenn on injured reserve, ending his season. Glenn has missed the past five games with a foot and ankle injury that has bothered him since training camp. McDermott says Glenn is scheduled to have surgery soon. McDermott also says QB Tyrod Taylor will start for the Bills this week against Miami.

13 — Josh Rolon (132 pounds) and Kylaan Barnes (138) earn pins for the Lockport wrestling Lions (1-0 NFL, 1-1 overall) in a 57-18 Niagara Frontier League season-opening victory over the visiting Lew-Port Lancers. Rolon makes quick work of Lew-Port's Ciaran Edwards, pinning him in 1:19 of their match. Barnes pins Craig Pellow of the Lancers in 5:27.

14 — Jaccob Slavin scores 2:15 into overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Jordan Staal, Derek Ryan, Elias Lindstrom, Justin Williams and Slavin each score a goal and add an assist to help the Hurricanes win their second in a row to close out a season-long six-game trip. Cam Ward makes 37 saves.

15 — Niagara University needs an 18-point second-half comeback and a last-second 3-pointer from star Matt Scott to top one-win Norfolk State on the road, 85-82. "We didn't play particularly well to start the game. We kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but we kept going, kept fighting and caught a little fire offensively," NU coach Chris Casey says.

16 — Many are speculating that Buffalo Bills' longest-serving active player Kyle Williams willretire at the end of the season, though he hasn't said anything officially, is in the final year of his contract and briefly considered retiring after last season before being coaxed back by new coach Sean McDermott.

17 — LeSean McCoy scores twice and becomes just the 30th NFL player to surpass 10,000 career yards, while keeping the Buffalo Bills firmly in the AFC playoff picture with a 24-16 win over the Miami Dolphins. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor shows no signs of a bruised left knee that sidelined him for one game, going 17 of 29 for 224 yards passing with a touchdown. He adds 42 yards rushing and scores on a 9-yard scamper in a game Buffalo never trailed.

18 — Starpoint's Elizabeth Bradley does everything but feed the reindeer, scoring a game-high 20 points in a 52-38 loss to the Lady Lions at LHS. The boys-girls varsity hoops fundraiser collected toys for needy children. Dave Gilson's Lions break out to a 13-0 first quarter lead and never look back, downing the Spartans, 52-35, in the boys' nightcap. Torree Cheatham of the Lions scores 12 of his 14 points in the second half.

19 — Buffalo Sabres and Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula expand their sports holdings by purchasing the National Women's Hockey League Buffalo Beauts in a first-of-its-kind sale for the 3-year-old professional league, becoming the first private owners to have full control of one of the NWHL's four franchises in a move that further expands the league's ties to the NHL.

20 — Devon “DD” Darrell nets 22 points, including four 3-point baskets, while high-flying teammate Tivon White adds 18 in the middle for Lockport in a 62-51 NFL boys basketball win over visiting Niagara-Wheatfield. The host Lions (2-0 NFL, 4-1 overall) overcome nine Niagara-Wheatfield 3-point baskets — including five by Davon Ware (22 points total) and three by Anthony Ruffino (18 points).

21 — Brendan Gawel leads all Starpoint scorers with 17 points, also hitting four tres, while Nate Lang adds five points in an 86-38 loss to Class B powerhouse Health Sciences at the St. Francis Tournament. Davonte Gaines tops all scorers with 19 points for Health Sciences. Kameron Briggs adds 16.

22 — Niagara University's Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott, the nation’s leading scoring duo, combine for 51 points and Marvin Prochet scores the Purple Eagles' final four points in an 89-86 victory over Cornell.

23 — Justin Faulk scores two goals, Teuvo Teravainen has three assists and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Carolina has now won five of its last six games and has points in seven of its past nine. Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal also score for the Hurricanes, and Cam Ward makes 20 saves.

24 — Tom Brady passes for two touchdowns, including a one-handed catch by Western New York Native Rob Gronkowski, and the New England Patriots stay on track for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a 37-16 win over the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. It's Gronkowski's 12th touchdown catch in 13 career games against the Bills — more than he's had against any other opponent.

25 — Holy Mother of all Bad Calls, Batman! The latest example of what's wrong with the way the NFL deals with instant replay comes when Buffalo's Kelvin Benjamin's 4-yard TD catch just before halftime against New England is overturned on review. Initially, Benjamin was ruled to have gotten both feet down while in possession of the ball. After looking at replays — which to television viewers clearly backed the call made on the field — officials ruled that Benjamin was juggling the ball when his first foot hit the turf.

26 — Mathew Barzal scores 1:08 into overtime to give the New York Islanders a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo scored for last-place Buffalo (9-20-8), which has lost four of five. Jose Altuve picks up the Houston Astros' first MVP trophy in more than two decades.

27 — Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Kyle Williams acknowledges that he’s heard the many well-wishes and accolades from coaches, and current and former teammates, rooting for him to make the playoffs in what might be his 12th and final season in Buffalo — and the NFL for that matter.

28 — Devin Leatherman scores 11 of his team-high 17 points in the first half for the Lockport Lions (4-1), who advance to take Clarence in the championship game of the Clarence Boys Basketball Tournament, after beating Fredonia in the opening round, 59-42.

29 — Newfane's Paige Emborsky scores 15 points and Emily Foltz adds 10 for the Lady Panthers (7-1) who win the consolation game of the Depew Tournament, by beating the host Lady Wildcats, 49-35.

30 — Niagara-Wheatfield finishes second in the annual Fulton Wrestling Tournament at SUNY Oswego. Justin McDougald leads the way by taking first place at 126 pounds. Warren McDougald is next best, earning a second-place finish at 145. “The kids did a nice job up there,” says N-W coach Rick Sweeney. “They wrestled tough.”

31 — Joe Taylor's ring victory at Madison Square Garden — the first ever victory by a Lockportian at “boxing's mecca,” is named the US&J's “Runner-up Local Sports Story of 2017.” The Buffalo Bills battle the Dolphins in Miami with slim playoff hopes on the line. (See Page 1B for results).