LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid boys hockey team overcame a sluggish start to defeat Beekmantown 4-2 on Wednesday in a key game featuring two top teams in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference standings.
"That's a playoff game right there," said Blue Bombers captain Nzoni Thompson. "I mean, we were both No. 1, first place in our division right now. So that's pretty much just a playoff game."
Lake Placid improved to 10-2 overall and 5-0 in league play while Beekmantown fell to 9-3 overall and 4-1 in CVAC games.
Lake Placid’s Nzoni Thompson, center, celebrates his second-period goal with teammates Dillon Savage, right, and Shane McNierney during Wednesday’s game.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Lake Placid’s Casler Kiefer beats Beekmantown goalie Dustin Plumadore for a second-period goal Wednesday to give his team a 2-1 lead at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Beekmantown was ranked No. 10 for Division II hockey teams in the latest state rankings released Wednesday and Lake Placid was 26th, despite their similar records.
In a game where they were outshot 40-18, the Blue Bombers picked up the win because of a strong game by goalie Tucker Angelopoulos, an opportunistic offense and a resilient attitude.
Chris Williams, Kiefer Casler, Thompson and Bjorn Kroes picked up goals for the Blue Bombers.
In the first period, Beekmantown outshot Lake Placid 14-5 and had plenty of chances on goal, including two power plays. But Angelopoulos stopped just about everything they sent his way.
"I knew coming into this game that it was going to be a big game, and we were actually going to have pressure on us, which we haven't had that much before," Angelopoulos said. "I just told myself I have to keep my team in this."
He did that until the Eagles finally snuck one past him when forward Josh Barriere scored with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the opening period.
While the goal put Lake Placid down one in the game, it also seemed to wake them up. They went on to score the game's next three goals.
The first came just over a minute after Barriere's goal, when Williams scored on a shot from 15 feet in front of the net. Thompson and Elias Smith were credited with assists.
"I thought - for whatever reason - because I know the boys were excited, we came out really tentative in the first, and they were all over us," Lake Placid coach Keith Clark said. "Beekmantown is a real good skating team, and we knew that coming in. And they peppered us in the first, and we just weren't ready for that. I don't think we were quite ready mentally, but Tucker (Angelopoulos) played really well in the first and kept us in it. Then Chris got that nice goal; that opportune goal kind of later in the period gave us a little life. To get out of the first 1-1, you know, was great.
Feeling the momentum, Lake Placid struck again early in the second period when Casler knocked home a rebound off his own shot as he went one-on-one with Beekmantown goalie Dustin Plumadore. Shane McNierney picked up the assist. That gave Lake Placid a 2-1 lead 3:27 into the period.
Lake Placid added another goal when Thompson scored about five minutes later, knocking home a loose puck in front of a crowded net. The short-handed goal came with just four seconds left in a Beekmantown power play and gave the Bombers a 3-1 advantage 8:18 into the period.
Beekmantown closed the gap to one goal three minutes later when defenseman Brendan Davison scored on a slapshot just inside the blue line.
Early in the final period, Lake Placid added another when Kroes put one in the top shelf off the crossbar.
Neither team scored from that point on in the game. Beekmantown wound up getting 15 shots in the period, but Angelopolous stopped each of them.
For the game, Angelopolous recorded 38 saves; 13 in the first period, 10 in the second and 15 in the third.
"Our goalie kept us in it, standing on his head in the goal there," Thompson said. "He really helped us out. Then the tying goal in the first period really boosted us up at the end of the first."
Plumadore finished with 14 saves in the game.
"I thought goaltending was big tonight," Beekmantown coach Justin Frechette said. "Their goaltender made a lot of key saves on a couple of opportunities and breakaways that we had. I think we outshot them 2-1 tonight. I thought we sustained pressure on their end, but their goalie had a great game. Got to give coach Clark and those guys credit for a big league win."