LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid boys hockey team had two tough tests over the weekend as the host of the annual Winter Carnival Tournament at the Olympic Center.
The Blue Bombers passed one of those challenges when they beat Saranac Lake 8-4 on Friday in an emotional opening-round game that also served as a Champlain Valley Athletic Conference contest. But after defeating their Red Storm rivals, the Blue Bombers couldn't pull off a second straight win in another big game, falling 4-1 to the Bombers of Westfield High School in Saturday's championship game.
The squad from Westfield, Mass., a first-time visitor to the tournament, gave up just one goal in two games en route to taking the title. Westfield blanked Shaker-Colonie 3-0 to reach the title tilt, where they fell behind by a goal early to Lake Placid and then answered with four straight tallies to improve to 9-3-1 overall.
Lake Placid’s Kyle Shipman and Kyle Levere of Westfield both go airborne after colliding near center ice during Saturday’s championship game.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Lake Placid was outshot by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, but continued to battle in a game that was deadlocked 1-1 until Westfield notched a pair of goals late in the second period to take command. Westfield then found the back of the net one more time with less than four minutes remaining in the game to secure the win.
"We knew that when we invited Westfield to play in our tournament late last summer that they would be bringing a very good team to Lake Placid," said Blue Bombers coach Keith Clark. "They are one of the best teams in western Mass. year in and year out. They are a skilled hockey team with good size and strength.
"We played decent, but not good enough," Clark added. "After beating Saranac Lake in the late game Friday, we knew it would be a tough test to come back the next afternoon to face Westfield. We played about as well as we could."
Both teams scored once in the first period, with Troy Jacques giving Lake Placid a 1-0 lead 6:22 into the game. The goal was the third of the season for Jacques and was set up by Keegan Barney. Sean Spohr tied the contest, netting Westfield's first goal at the 8:21 mark of the period.
The Blue Bombers and Bombers remained tied at a goal apiece until less than two minutes remained in the second period, when Chris Sullivan and Mike Santinello sent home tallies within a span of 12 seconds to lift Westfield to a 3-1 edge heading into the third stanza. Conner Larnway then put the game away, scoring for the Bombers with 3:45 left on the clock to make it a 4-1 final.
Westfield put 29 shots on net, and freshman goaltender Jeff Smith made 25 saves in a losing effort for Lake Placid. Westfield used two goalies in the game, with Nick Liberto starting and making nine saves and Matt Blascak taking over and recording five saves.
Lake Placid junior Eddie Kane, who scored four goals in his team's victory over Saranac Lake, was named the tournament's most valuable player. Blue Bombers teammate Nzoni, a defenseman, was also named to the all-tournament team.
"I was pleased with how we played in both games," Clark said. "Obviously, we would have preferred a better result in the second game, but overall, it was a pretty good weekend for us. We beat a good Saranac Lake team, and we were able to play for a championship in our own tournament. It was a good test for us to play a good team like Westfield. They don't have too many weaknesses.
"Now we have three league games in a row going into the playoffs," Clark continued. "We're in that crucial part of the season where every game is like a playoff game in terms of seedings and standings."
The Blue Bombers next play at home Tuesday against Plattsburgh starting at 6 p.m.
Saranac Lake 5, Shaker-Colonie 3
In Friday's opening-round game, Saranac Lake's hockey team fell into an early 2-0 hole before falling to Lake Placid. On Saturday, the Red Storm found themselves facing another two-goal deficit with less than four minutes gone in the consolation game against Shaker-Colonie.
But this time, Saranac Lake was able to rally, claiming a 5-3 victory to take third place in the Lake Placid High School Winter Carnival Tournament. Once again, senior captain Devin Darrah paved the way for a Red Storm victory. Darrah had a part in all five Saranac Lake goals, netting a hat trick and adding two assists as the Red Storm improved to 5-3 overall.
Joe Mineau scored two early goals to stake the Jets out to a quick edge in the game, netting his first just 49 seconds into the contest and adding another at the 3:27 mark for a 2-0 Shaker-Colonie lead. Darrah pulled Saranac Lake to within a goal when he buried his first of the game at the 5:56 mark. Darrah got the goal when Saranac Lake was killing off a penalty, and Quinn Urquhart and starting goaltender Pat Woodward earned assists on the play.
Each team tacked on one more goal in the opening period, with Joe Chiara scoring at the 6:20 mark to put the Jets back up by a pair of goals, and Darrah answering with his second of the game on the power-play at the 9:03 mark with Matt Phelan and Kyle Dora assisting.
Trailing 3-2, the Red Storm turned the tables in the second period when they notched the final three goals of the game. Darrah evened the score and completed his hat trick just five seconds into the period. Phelan then scored the eventual game-winning goal midway through the stanza and David Cluckey tallied with 1:55 remaining in the period for a 5-3 Saranac Lake lead.
The Red Storm blanked the Jets the rest of the way to improve to 9-7 overall.
Shaker-Colonie held a 33-23 advantage in shots on goal. Woodward made seven saves in the Red Storm nets before being replaced in the first period by Blake Darrah, who recorded 23 stops the rest of the way. Kodi Riddell made 18 saves in goal for the Jets, who fell to 7-9-2 overall with the loss.
"We haven't had problems putting shots on net, but we have had a difficult time keeping the pucks out of the net this season," said Shaker-Colonie head coach Steve Hudak, who used to live in Lake Placid. "We've been coming to this tournament for a long time, and obviously, we would have liked to have done better. It was a competitive tournament this year."
"We lost an emotional game to Lake Placid, and it was nice to see our guys battle for a win today," Saranac Lake coach Will Ellsworth said. "It's always nice beating a team from a competitive Section II. Overall, we played a much smarter hockey game today. Once again, we got behind early, but our kids battled back."
Devin Darrah, who scored five goals and added three assists for the Red Storm in the two games, was named to the all-tournament team.
Saranac Lake returns to CVAC action at home tonight against Northeastern Clinton with the opening faceoff slated for 6 p.m.