SARANAC LAKE - The Lake Placid boys hockey team rolled through the Casey McHugh Memorial Tournament this weekend at the Saranac Lake Civic Center.
The Blue Bombers beat Burnt Hills by a score of 6-0 Friday night and then capped it off with another 6-0 victory over Niskayuna on Saturday afternoon. The two wins earned them the championship in the points-based tournament that awards teams for victories and winning periods.
"We like coming over to this tournament," Lake Placid coach Keith Clark said. "We know it's meaning is important to Saranac Lake and its community, so to win it the third time it's a nice accomplishment for our kids and we're happy to be here."
Lake Placid captain Dillon Savage, left, holds the Casey McHugh Memorial Tournament first-place trophy Saturday afternoon as fellow captain and tourney most valuable player Shane McNierney looks on.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Unfortunately, for the young Saranac Lake squad, it didn't fare as well. The Red Storm tied Niskayuna 1-1 Friday night then lost 1-0 to Burnt Hills Saturday afternoon. The team has 14 newcomers this season, including four eighth graders.
"We knew coming into the season that we would struggle offensively," Red Storm coach Will Ellsworth said. "We haven't really found the right connections and lines right now."
It was the opening weekend of hockey for both Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Lake Placid was led by tournament MVP and team captain Shane McNierney, who had two goals and an assist against Burnt Hills and a goal and an assist against Niskayuna.
The second of those goals came in the beginning of the second period against Burnt Hills. That period the Blue Bombers came out on fire, scoring three times in the first three minutes and five times overall. That set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
"I think the first period, we were a little nervous, McNierney said. "We didn't really play that well in my opinion and the second period we came out a lot harder, got some shots on net. Once we got another one, I think we relaxed a little bit, and started playing a little bit more as a team."
Troy Jacques, Nzoni Thompson, Bjorn Kroes and Kiefer Casler also scored for Lake Placid in the first game. Kamm Cassidy had 23 saves for the shutout.
"I thought today we really played a complete game," Clark said after the game. "Like I told the guys, it was good from start to finish. I thought we really reacted well to a different team and the guys played well. We played as a team. We played disciplined and it was a good start to the weekend."
In the second game, the Blue Bomber scoring was spread throughout the game and once again was a balanced effort.
Connor Preston picked up the first two goals, with assists from Ryan Damp and McNierney. Then Chris Williams found the back of the net in the second period, followed by Damp, McNierney and Kiefer Casler.
"We lost a lot of our scoring from last year," Clark said after Saturday's game. "Ryan Damp's line had a good day today. They had four of our six goals out there, but we had a really nice balanced attack all weekend. All three lines were in on the scoring, and I think that's got to be our approach. It's got to be. I think that's the way we're going to fill those holes. It's going to get done by committee."
Tucker Angelopoulos had 26 saves for the shutout.
In Saranac Lake's two games it received some outstanding play in goal by Blake Darrah. He had 28 saves in the first game and 31 in the second game. Both goals against him came in the third period.
Saranac Lake eighth-grader Casey Sturgeon scored his team's lone goal of the weekend in the second period, with assists going to freshman JB Chapin and senior captain David Cluckey.
Niskayuna's Josh Kim tied the game about seven minutes into the third period, with assists from Cliff Vitkin and JB Hunt.
"I thought in tonight's game we definitely had some defensive lapses, and they buried one on us to win the game in the third period," Ellsworth said. "We have our work cut out for us. We have a young team. and the kids are still learning our systems, so it's just a matter of time. It's going to take a couple of more weeks until they get our systems down."
In Saranac Lake's second game of the weekend, Dominik Monterroso scored the winning goal 8:50 into the third period.
"That's was our first win of the year, third game, so it was a big win for us," Burnt Hills coach Jim Buffoline said. "That's our first goal we've scored all year. We've been shut out in the first two games, so it's a huge goal for us."
Buffoline thought his team's physical play was key to the win.
"This is the most physical we've been," he said. "We kind of preach being more physical, especially up here these guys are pretty tough up here. Our offense played pretty good. Everyone played within our 2-1-2 system and our defense played very well today, very physical. They pinched when they were supposed to pinch. They did a really nice job. Overall, it was a really good game, so we're really pleased with the way we played today."
Burnt Hills took second place with the win, edging out Saranac Lake.
The tournament is played in memory of former Saranac Lake hockey player Casey McHugh, who died in a tragic skateboard accident in June 2010.
"It's always nice to see a great crowd, especially last night with our season opener," Ellsworth said. "Casey McHugh was a great asset to have to our greater community and especially our Saranac Lake alumni. We greatly miss him and it's great to have this memorial tournament on his behalf."