TUPPER LAKE - The Adirondack women's ice hockey team returned to action Friday on the first day of the Empire State Winter Games, splitting a pair of games at the Tupper Lake Civic Center.
The team, which is the reigning ESWG women's ice hockey champion, got off to a strong start in the morning when it defeated Hudson Valley by a score of 3-0. The team, which consists of athletes from the North Country, outshot its opponent by a whopping 35-13.
Adirondack also got a boost from a pair of local athletes.
Adirondack player Erin Farmer faces off against Western New York’s Margaret Giamo during Friday’s Empire State Winter Games matchup at the Tupper Lake Civic Center.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Erin Farmer, who grew up in Saranac Lake and now lives in Lake Placid, scored the first goal. The assist on the goal came from Andrea Kilbourne-Hill, a former Olympian who also grew up in Saranac Lake. It was the first of two assists on the day for Kilbourne-Hill.
The pair should be familiar with each other and have good chemistry. They coach together at Northwood School in Lake Placid. Kilbourne-Hill, who attended Northwood, is the head women's ice hockey coach there and Farmer is her assistant.
Although the two don't get to play competitively much, they do try to practice with the students whenever possible.
"We try to jump in drills with our kids whenever we can, whenever it's suitable. But coaching my team comes first, and I can't see what's going on if I'm in the play as much," Kilbourne-Hill said. "So we can't jump in as much as we need to stay in shape, to stay in hockey shape. Biking doesn't do it as much as you'd like, so it's a tough five games after not skating for a long time."
Western New York 4, Adirondack 0
In the second game, Adirondack didn't play nearly as well and lost to Western New York by a score of 4-0.
"I thought they outplayed us," Kilbourne-Hill said. "They played more like a team than we did. They moved the puck a lot better and they had a lot more jump and a lot more energy and a lot more effort in general. They just looked like they wanted it lot more. We had a morning game where we could dictate the pace. We could pass it around and slow the game down a little bit but they weren't letting us do that. So that kind of threw us off, I think. Then we never could recover and get the jump back going."
Part of the up-and-down of the first day could probably also be attributed to rust. Although the players have long histories in the sport, many are no longer consistently playing competitively and the teams don't play together throughout the year. They just come together for this tournament.
"Some of our players said they took their skates out of their bags for the first time since last year at Empires," Adirondack coach Corey Rossoff said. "It is what it is. You put together a bunch of players who are good skilled players that like to play together and then they just get together here and start playing again."
Many of the players have actually been playing against each other for many years, at winter games and prior to that.
"A lot of us played against each other in college, with each other and against each other," Farmer said.
Adirondack and Western New York have long history in the winter games. They traditionally are the two strongest teams, with one or the other taking home the gold medal. The only other team that has played to their level in recent years is New York City, which took silver last year. In the two years prior to last year, Adirondack took gold while Western took silver.
"This is a highlight for all of us, and I think other teams, too, because there isn't competitive women's hockey really anywhere once you graduate from college," Kilbourne-Hill said. "So it's a highlight for everyone to come up here and play some good players and have fun."
Despite the loss in the second game, Kilbourne is confident the team can play well today, when it plays New York City in the morning, followed by Central New York in the afternoon. The goal is to advance to the medal rounds, which take place Sunday morning.
"We have the talent," Kilbourne-Hill said. "We just need to show up and know it's going to be a good game. I think this morning it probably came a little too easy for us. So we didn't have that fire in us this afternoon. I expect tomorrow should be our best game because we kind of want to redeem ourselves here."
Lake Placid jumpers gather gold
LAKE PLACID - Gabby Armstrong and Landon Livreri of Lake Placid won Empire State Winter Games gold medals for the second consecutive year Thursday with victories on the K48 hill at the Olympic Jumping Complex.
Armstrong took the open competition with jumps of 44.5 and 42 meters and finished with 163.1 points. Livreri was the under-13 winner on K48 with jumps of 47.5 and 47 meters and finished with 216.2 points. Matt White of Lake Placid finished second with jumps of 42 and 43.5 meters and 183.9 points.
Avery Thurston of Whiting, Vt. won the Under-16 competition on the K48 with jumps of 42.5 and 42 meters and 164.2 points to to finish ahead of Scott Schulz and Brian Byrne of Lake Placid. Schulz turned in jumps of 36 and 33.5 meters and finished with 123.7 points. Byrne was third with jumps of 33 and 33.5 meters and 112.6 points.
On the K20 hill, Christopher Byrne of Lake Placid won the under-10 event, Grant Thurston of Whitney, Vt. was the Under-12 winner and Jasmine Bujold of Lake Placid was the women's winner.
Byrne had jumps of 10.5 and 10 meters and 34.4 points. Thurston finished with 84 points after jumps of 14 and 15 meters. Bujold had a pair of 11-meter jumps and finished with 48.6 points.