Storm win, Bombers fall in McHugh tourney
SARANAC LAKE — The seventh annual Casey McHugh Memorial Hockey Tournament kicked off with a high-scoring affair, as Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa toppled the Lake Placid boys 11-1 in the first of four games slated for the weekend.
In the second game of the evening, the Saranac Lake Red Storm earned a big 2-0 win over Niskayuna. Rhett Darrah scored both goals for Saranac Lake, one in the first and one in the third. Matthew Kratts was credited with assists on both goals.
Jayden Gladd recorded 16 saves in goal for the Red Storm while Jack LoRe stopped 34 for Niskayuna.
On fresh ice at the Saranac Lake Civic Center, Burnt Hills took early command of the opening game, pinning the Blue Bombers in the defensive end for much of the first period. Burnt Hills put early pressure on first-year Lake Placid goalie Anders Stanton, who ended the night with 32 saves.
Burnt Hills sophomore Connor Cecala set the tone early on with the first score of the game less than 5 minutes into the match. Jake Koszelak and Owen Grabb each put another tally on the board in the first stanza, to put Burnt Hills up 3-0 going into the first intermission.
Through a combination of solid passing, good puck movement and strategically positioned players along the Lake Placid blue line, Burnt Hills only let the puck slip out of the Blue Bombers’ defensive end a few times. Lake Placid was unable to turn any of those chances into a scoring opportunity, though.
Going into the second period, Burnt Hills continued its fast play and put another three tallies on the board before the period was out. Freshman Kevin Cullen scored less than 2 minutes into the period on assists from Jared DiFiore and Miles Grabb. Jameson Spiegel and DiFiore each found the back of the net before the period ended.
Although Burnt Hills continued to run away with the game during the second, Lake Placid found a few more opportunities to put the puck on net. Halfway through the second stanza, Burnt Hills swapped out senior goaltender Trevin Tidmarsh for junior Kyle Grace. Tidmarsh had 10 saves on the night, while Grace stopped seven.
The Blue Bombers showed a little bit of life in the second, with sophomore Lars Kroes firing a shot on net that was easily turned away by Grace. Although Lake Placid couldn’t find the goal during the second period, they did find the inside of the penalty box, with sophomore Dustin Patterson getting booked for interference while junior Hunter Spotts was sent off for a trip.
As the third period started, the Blue Bombers managed to create more opportunities and get out of the defensive end of the ice. Sophomore Tyler Hinckley put a nice shot on net from the left side, but the top of Grace’s stick sent the puck out of harm’s way.
Lake Placid sophomore Hunter Wilmot showed lots of hustle in the third, intercepting a pass out of the Burnt Hills back and immediately sending it toward the net. Grace knocked it down, but Wilmot got another shot with a bullish follow-up to his first shot, but the Burnt Hills defense managed to get the puck away from the danger zone.
After Wilmot’s flurry, Burnt Hills really walked away with the game, putting another five scores on the board in the last 10 minutes of play.
“We’re just young, I got guys out there playing that have never played,” Lake Placid coach Butch Martin said. “We’re just going to try and get better every time we play; every period, every game.
“I think we’ll try to make some good offensive plays and not turn the puck over. We don’t need to give them any more help. We worked on things to do, and we just didn’t execute some of them. They know, they’ll work on that and get better.”
Burnt Hills coach James Buffoline said he was quite happy with the way his relatively young team played in its first game of the season.
“We have a lot of young guys, I think the guys were nervous early,” he said. “We got a few goals early on them that gave us some confidence. I think we got better as the game progressed, so I thought we did pretty well.
“We’ve been working a lot on our offensive zone, the biggest thing for us is we’re small and we’re fast, if we just move our feet we have a chance to beat anybody.”
Buffoline said that in addition to playing all four lines in the game, he was also able to give two of his three goalies a chance to spend some time in the net.
“Right now, we don’t have a number one goalie, we got all three goalies duking it out,” he said. “The goalie that we started we feel is a little better than the other guys, but they’re all trying hard. Early in the season, we’re still trying to figure out the number one goalie is.”
Lake Placid sophomore Tyler Hinckley said his team will get better as the season goes on, and is struggling a little now after the loss of a large graduating class last year.
“Considering that we lost a lot of seniors last year, it’s going to be a season of work for us this year,” Hinckley said. “It’s going really hard for us. It’s going to take a while for us to get on our feet and realize how well we can actually play, but we’ve got some pretty good talent on this team when we put it all together.”
The action continues today with two more games at the Civic Center. Niskayuna takes on Lake Placid at noon, followed by Burnt Hills versus Saranac Lake at 2 p.m.