TUPPER LAKE - Saranac Lake's hockey team was riding a short two-game winning streak heading into Friday's non-league matchup against Tupper Lake. The Lumberjacks, meanwhile, hadn't won a game yet and were facing the possibility of an 0-6 record with a loss to the Red Storm.
As it turned out, both teams saw their streaks come to an end, after they finished in a 3-3 deadlock at the Tupper Lake Civic Center. And the Lumberjacks had to feel a whole lot better with the result than the Red Storm.
The 'Jacks netted the final goal of the game when Elliot Fletcher scored midway through the third period, and senior goaltender Marcus Richer then came up big in overtime, saving all seven shots Saranac Lake fired his way to preserve the 3-3 tie.
Chris Spicer of Saranac Lake controls the puck along the boards while Tupper Lake defender Maddie LaVigne closes in during Friday’s game.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"Obviously, you'd like to come out with the win, but at this point, we're pretty happy with a tie," Tupper Lake head coach Dan Cook said. "In my three years coaching this team, this was the best game I've seen our kids play. It was all effort, all the time on every shift. I can't say there was one kid on this team who didn't give it everything they had tonight."
Devin Roberge and Josh Kopp scored a goal each for Tupper Lake, while Chris Spicer notched a pair of goals for the Red Storm and teammate Brad Shumway found the back of the net once.
Tupper Lake held leads twice in the opening period, with Roberge giving the hosts an early 1-0 edge when he got a shot past Saranac Lake goalie Blake Darrah 2:44 into the game.
Spicer knotted the game 1-1 with 3:13 remaining in the period with his first goal of the season. Tthe 'Jacks answered when Kopp fired a wrist shot from the blue line with 2:03 left in the period to send Tupper Lake into the first intermission with a 2-1 edge.
Saranac Lake (3-2-2) scored the lone goal of the second period, with Spicer burying his second of the game at the 10:47 mark.
Shumway gave the Red Storm their only lead of the game when he scored a power-play goal with 9:47 remaining in the third period to make it a 3-2 contest.
But the Lumberjacks weren't going to let the contest slip away, and with 7:02 left, Elliot Fletcher finished off an end-to-end rush when he stuffed the equalizer past Darrah.
From there, the Lumberjacks held on during a game where they were outshot 49-22.
"I know Saranac Lake is down a little this year, they don't have the depth, but they still have some quality players and they know how to play hockey," Cook said. "We went at them with three lines all game long, and I think that was an advantage for us. If we come out and play like this every game, we are going to get some wins."
"Tupper Lake always plays us tough in their barn," Saranac Lake head coach Will Ellsworth said. "I remember back to the years when I played, and the years when Saranac Lake had CVAC championship teams, Tupper Lake always put up a good fight then. This was a great atmosphere for a high school hockey game tonight. The stands were packed.
"We put a lot of pucks on net, we just had some lapses at times," Ellsworth said. "We still have some guys out injured, and it's probably a good thing we're heading into the holiday break. It will give us time to get healthy and regroup as we head into the meat of our CVAC schedule coming up in January."
Spicer, a junior, said it was a relief to find the back of the net seven games into the season.
"I've come close, and it was nice to finally put the puck in the net," Spicer said. "We're definitely disappointed not coming out with a win, but it's better than losing. If that happened, it wouldn't have been a very good holiday break for us. We had a lot of shots, we just made a few mistakes.
"Once we have some guys back on a regular basis, I think we'll be fine," Spicer added. "We want to start playing good hockey and get ready for a playoff run."
The Lumberjacks return to action Saturday, Dec. 29 when they travel to face Northeastern Clinton in a non-league game. Saranac Lake is next scheduled to play Jan. 3 on the road against Saranac Central in a Champlain Valley Athletic Conference matchup.
Saranac Lake 3, Tupper Lake 3, OT
1. TL, Roberge (J. Fletcher, Kopp), 2:44; 2. SL, Spicer (Cluckey), 11:47; 3. TL, Kopp (Sparks), 12:57.
4. SL, Spicer (Strack, Cluckey), 10:47.
5. SL, Shumway (Spicer), 5:13, ppg; 6. TL, E. Fletcher (Guerette, Richer), 7:58, ppg.
Shots on goal: Saranac Lake 49, Tupper Lake 22
Saves: SL, Darrah 19; TL, Richer 46