LAKE PLACID - After six years of frustration, Lake Placid's hockey players were finally wearing big, wide smiles following a game against archrival Saranac Lake.
The Blue Bombers hadn't beaten the Red Storm since 2006, and on Friday, they ended the long dry spell with authority with an 8-4 victory over Saranac Lake in the first round of Lake Placid's High School Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament.
Not a single player on the Lake Placid roster had tasted victory against the Red Storm until Friday. Senior captain Dustin Jacques had been waiting the longest to experience the feeling.
Lake Placid’s R.J. Reid (17) looks for the puck through a crowd of players during Friday’s game against Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"It's great. It's a relief," Jacques said. "We've had some close games with Saranac Lake that haven't gone our way, and it's nice to finally beat them. I have a lot of friends on that team, and I've heard it from them over the past few years."
Junior Eddie Kane continued his scoring spree by netting four goals to lead Lake Placid, while Jacques, Nzoni Thompson, Shane McNierney and Keegan Barney added single goals in the victory.
Devin Darrah notched a pair of goals to pace Saranac Lake and teammates Kyle Dora and Grant Strack each scored once.
With the win, Lake Placid advanced to today's championship game to take on Westfield, Mass., which blanked Shaker-Colonie 3-0 in Friday's opening game of the first-round doubleheader played at the Olympic Center's 1932 Arena.
Hundreds of fans from both teams packed into the 1932 Rink to see Friday's game, and there was plenty of excitement to go around. The contest featured four power-play goals and three short-handed tallies, and it was close in the early going.
The opening period ended in a 2-2 tie, and all the scoring came late and in bunches. Kane put Lake Placid on top with a power-play goal at the 11:58 mark, and he buried another puck just 18 seconds later to give the Blue Bombers a 2-0 edge.
Darrah then stole the show for Saranac Lake when his team was on the penalty kill. He netted his first short-handed tally at the 13:22 mark to cut the Red Storm's deficit to one goal. Darrah scored again with less than a minute left in the stanza with a teammate in the penalty box to tie the score.
Lake Placid outscored Saranac Lake 3-1 in the second period, with McNierney lifting his team to a 3-2 lead on a power-play goal with just 1:06 gone in the period. Thompson pushed the Blue Bombers edge to a pair of goals when he buried a short-handed goal at the 3:01 mark.
Dora answered for Saranac Lake, netting a power-play goal midway through the second to cut his team's deficit to 4-3.
Lake Placid then took control by scoring the next three goals of the game, starting with Barney's goal at the 9:52 mark of the second to send the Blue Bombers into intermission on top 5-3. The Bombers struck quickly in the third period, with Jacques finding the back of the net at the 2:08 mark and Kane adding his third goal less than a minute later to give the hosts a 7-3 edge.
Strack answered for Saranac Lake at the 4:27 mark, and Kane rounded out the scoring, sending home an empty-netter with 1:49 remaining on his fourth goal of the game, which gave the forward 22 goals for the season.
"It's been a long time since Lake Placid has beaten our team, and they deserved this win," Saranac Lake coach Will Ellsworth said. "They do a great job creating space on this big ice sheet, and they were poised with the puck. When our two teams get together, it's always a great atmosphere and it always will be. Tonight they got the better of us. They played really well."
"I feel great for our older guys," Lake Placid head coach Keith Clark said. "They've been waiting a long time to beat Saranac Lake, and the fact that we did it on home ice in our own winter carnival tournament and in a big league game makes it that much better.
"I think emotions got the best of both teams in the first period," Clark added. "Hockey is an emotional game and it's a hard game to play, but after awhile, we settled down and played our game. I think we were really able to dictate play in the second half of this game."
"Not only was it nice beating Saranac Lake, but we were able to do it by more than one goal," Jacques added. "We're pretty excited to finally be playing in the championship game of our own tournament. We will have to play well. We are playing a good hockey team."
With the win, Lake Placid improved to 12-3-1 overall and 4-2-1 in CVAC action. Saranac Lake dropped to 8-7 overall and 4-3 in the league with the setback.
The Red Storm will play in today's consolation game against Shaker-Colonie starting at 12:30 p.m. Lake Placid and Westfield will then square off for the title with the opening faceoff slated for 2:30 p.m. The Blue Bombers will be seeking their third tournament crown of the season.
Lake Placid 8, Saranac Lake 4
1. LP, E. Kane (Reid), 11:58, pp; 2. LP, E. Kane (McNierney), 12:16; 3. SL, Darrah, 13:22; Shg; 4. Darrah, 14:53, shg.
5. LP, McNierney (Reid, Barney), 1:06, pp; 6. LP, N. Thompson, 3:01, shg; 7. SL, Dora (Darrah, Strack), 7:03, pp; 8. LP, Barney (H. Thompson), 9:52.
9. LP, D. Jacques (N. Thompson), 2:08; 10. LP, E. Kane, 3:01; 11. SL, Strack (Phelan, Dora), 4:27, pp; 12. E. Kane (D. Jacques), 13:11.
Shots on goal: Lake Placid 32, Saranac Lake 24.
Saves: LP, Angelopoulos 20; SL, B. Darrah 18, Woodward 6.