SARANAC LAKE - Saranac Lake natives Andrea Kilbourne-Hill and Erin Farmer normally stand behind the bench together during the winter months as coaches of the Northwood School girls hockey team.
But this weekend, they are playing on the ice together in the Empire State Winter Games as members of the Adirondack Region women's hockey team. And it's so far so good for the squad in its bid to three-peat as gold medalists.
On Friday at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, Adirondack won both its games in the round-robin tournament, rolling to a 15-1 win over Long Island in the morning and then claiming a 4-2 victory over New York City in the afternoon.
New York City goalie Ashley Walenty, a Lake Placid High School and University of Vermont gradute, makes a save on a shot by Adirondack’s Monique Rafferty during women’s ice hockey action at the Olympic Center Friday in the 33rd Empire State Winter Games. Rafferty scored twice and added an assist in the contest to lead her team to a 4-2 victory.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"We seemed to have a little more legs under us in the first game," said Kilbourne-Hill, who played on the United States silver-medal winning team at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The two Saranac Lakers agreed that their second game of the day was a lot more fun as they took on a quality New York City squad in what turned out to be an up-and-down the ice affair.
"New York City is much improved," Farmer said. "We really like playing in tight games like that."
Adirondack jumped out to a 2-0 lead against New York on a pair of first-period goals scored by Stephane Holmes and Monique Rafferty. New York then rallied to knot the game at 2-2 with a goal from Caroline Park late in the opening period and another netted by Stephanie Couzin 4:30 into the second.
Adirondack, however, responded with the game's final two tallies later in the second period, with Rafferty netting the game-winner and St. Lawrence University graduate Cristin Powers adding an insurance marker. Rafferty also added an assist for a three-point outing. Holmes also added an assist to finish with two points. Laurie Haley and Cristie Sharlow chipped in with and assist each for the winners. Annie Annunziato and Cherie Stewart had one assist apiece for New York.
Heading into the game, Adirondack's players knew they had their hands full, as the New York City defense was anchored by Ashley Walenty, a Lake Placid native who turned in an outstanding performance between the pipes.
"She was a big difference maker for them," Kilbourne-Hill said. "We had a fair amount of shots and she came up with some big saves."
Walenty, who played hockey at the University of Vermont and is a construction engineer now living in New York City, made 25 saves in a losing effort. Amanda Durrer earned the win in goal for Adirondack with 16 saves.
Adirondack coaches Jim Joyce and Corey Rosoff agreed that their team played well Friday, but added there is room for improvement as they head back into action today.
"We're pretty pleased with how things went, but there are some areas where we could have been better," Joyce said. "Finishing off chances is definitely one of them. It would have been nice to get one or two more goals in our second game. The opportunities were there."
The Adirondack skaters are back on the ice at 11 a.m. today at the Olympic Center, facing Hudson Valley in their third game.