Host SLP wins shootout, advances to title tilt

Saranac Lake Placid goaltender Whitney Battistoni smothers the puck in a spray of ice while Ithaca’s Shea Baker applies pressure and SLP players, including Lydia Bullock (9) close in to defend the play during the second period of Thursday’s game. (Enteprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — With their backs to the wall in their own tournament, skaters on the Saranac Lake Placid girls hockey team rallied with a big third period and then prevailed in a shootout to down Ithaca on Thursday in the first round of the event.

In the books, the outcome of the game was recorded as a 2-2 tie. After giving up a goal in the first period and another in the second to trail 2-0, SLP notched a pair of third-period goals to complete the comeback, and the contest remained deadlocked after a scoreless five-minute, sudden-death overtime period.

Allie Chamberlain and Tess Stanton netted goals in the final stanza, and Lydia Bullock and Stanton buried pucks in the shootout to lift SLP into today’s championship game against Canton, a 4-1 winner of Plattsburgh in Thursday’s first opening-round matchup.

Today’s action at the Saranac Lake Civic Center starts at noon with the consolation game between Ithaca and Plattsburgh with the final to follow starting at 2 p.m.

In a game that saw both teams generate great scoring chances, Whitney Battistoni had a shining performance in nets for SLP while recording 35 saves, as well another monster stop in the shootout to earn the win. Catie Eisenhut also had a strong outing between the pipes for Ithaca and finished with 27 saves.

The hosts were out shot 25-13 during the first two periods and then put 13 shots on goal in the third while evening the score. Each team had one more opportunity to bury a possible game-winner that didn’t count as a shot on goal. With the score tied, Bullock ripped a shot just wide of the net with less than a minute remaining in regulation, and Ithaca’s best chance came in overtime when Shea Baker rattled a shot of the goal post on a breakaway.

Saranac Lake Placid buried both its shots in the shootout, with Bullock scoring first and Stanton sending home the game-winner when she made a nifty deke that left Eisenhut out of position and slid the puck into a wide-open left side of the net. At the other end of the rink, Battistoni forced Baker to fire a shot wide on Ithaca’s first shootout attempt and then smothered the puck on a shot from Ithaca’s Kelty Goodrow.

“Going into the third period, being down was really stressful,” Battistoni said. “I think we just worked harder. We wanted to win.

“I honestly had no clue if that went in or not,” Battistoni added, describing her game-winning save in the shootout. “I looked behind me trying to figure out if the puck was there or not.When I saw it wasn’t in the net, I felt like I was having a heart attack — a lot of emotion.”

“How about that Battistoni,” SLP coach Bill Peer said. “She kept us in the game, particularly in the first period because we played poorly. But we made a little adjustment in the locker room in our center coverage down low and that really helped us out a lot. We had a really good 11 minutes in the second period and then a poor four minutes. We really came out in the third. We were playing four lines so we thought we could wear them down.”

Hannah Partigianoni scored the lone goal of the opening period to give Ithaca a 1-0 edge, and teammate Quinn Howe scored in the second to put the hosts into a 2-0 hole. Ithaca’s lead, however, didn’t hold up.

Heading into the third with some momentum after killing off a 5-on-3 Ithaca advantage at the end of the second, SLP roared back. Chamberlain banged home a puck into an open net 4:15 into the period on a play that started when Shelby Jewtraw drove into the Ithaca end of the rink and flung a pass in front from the left corner. Chamberlain was on the doorstep and fired the puck into the net.

SLP’s second goal came from a flurry in front of the Ithaca net, with Stanton banging a shot through traffic past Eisenhut, who was unable to cover up the puck, which was sitting on the ice for what seemed like an eternity.

With the score tied, the teams played scoreless for the final 6:15 of regulation and then through the 5-minute overtime.

“I thought that is was a really good game,” Ithaca head coach Emily Grippin said. “We thought it was going to be a good matchup, and that’s how it turned out. I think they really came out in the third period revved up and ready to win the game. I think we came out a little flat, maybe thinking we had it in the bag.

“You have to look at the whole game as 45 minutes and not 30 minutes,” Grippin added. “We have to play every single shift as hard as we can for the entire game. They came out really fast that third period and that was hard to defend.”

With the tie, Ithaca’s record moved to 6-1-2 while SLP’s record now stands at 4-4-1.

Saranac Lake Placid 2, Ithaca 2

(SLP wins in shootout)

Ithaca 1 1 0 0 – 2

SLP 0 0 2 0 – 2

Scoring

First Period

1. I, Partigianoni (Goodrow, Q. Howe), 2:54.

Second Period

2. I, Q. Howe (Goodrow, Partigianoni), 12:31.

Third Period

3. SLP, Chamberlain (Preston, Jewtraw), 4:15; 4. SLP, Stanton, 8:45.

Shots on goal: Ithaca 37, SLP 29.

Saves: I, Eisenhut 27; SLP, Battistoni 35.

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