Four-day hockey extravaganza in Lake Placid

Northwood junior team goalie Mathew Petizian swipes the puck away from danger during a game against Shattuck-St. Mary’s during last year’s tournament action at the Olympic Center. The host Huskies will have three teams in action this weekend at the 39th annual Northwood Invitational Hockey Tournament at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. (Enterprise file photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — The 39th annual Northwood Hockey Tournament takes place this weekend at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.

The event stretches out over four days, starting today and running through Monday, which is the Martin Luther King Junior holiday.

The tournament features competition for titles in three divisions and also includes a showcase division with the boys’ top junior teams, including the host Huskies.

In addition to its junior squad, Northwood will also be represented by the boys prep and girls teams.

Northwood’s juniors carry a 25-8 record into the weekend and will play three games in as many days, which all take place on the Olympic Center’s 1932 ice sheet.

Appearing in the showcase division a year ago, the Huskies juniors accomplished one of their main objectives of the season when they beat a nemesis, Shattuck-St. Mary’s, in their first game of the tournament. This time around, they’ll open against another rival, and one that beat them earlier this season, when they take on St. Andrew’s College (Ontario) at 7 p.m. tonight. St. Andrew’s claimed a 3-2 win on Nov. 11 when the teams met the first time.

“They outplayed us pretty good. We owe them one,” Northwood head coach Chadd Cassidy said, describing his team’s first clash with St. Andrew’s. “St. Andrew’s College is one of the premier programs prep school-wise in terms of North America. They’re one of the top teams, they’re a team that beat us 3-2 earlier in the year. We’ve developed a good healthy rivalry with them, and at the same time they are a benchmark school that we can compare ourselves with. They’re a really fast, skilled team. They like to make a lot of plays on open ice and in transition.”

A year ago, Northwood’s juniors were stacked with expereince, and there’s been a big turnover entering this season. Cassidy described his juniors as one of, if not the youngest teams at that level that Northwood has put on the ice. He said playing good hockey for 60 minutes in all three games is the goal.

The Huskies may have some momentum entering the weekend after they blanked Shattuck 4-0 in their last start, which was on Sunday at St. Andrew’s.

“We’re playing pretty well right now,” he said. “This is probabley the youngest team at Northwood we’ve had. I know it’s the youngest I’ve had, and we’ve had our ups and downs. The big thing is we’ve struggled with consistency.

After tonight’s contest, the juniors will then take on the Junior Bruins on Saturday at 4 p.m., and wrap up the weekend with a matchup against Nichols at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Cassidy said Northwood’s other two teams in the tournament both have the potential to make a run into the playoff round on Monday.

The Northwood girls team, which is led by head coach Gino Riffle, marched all the way to the championship game a season ago and is currently 23-7-3.

The Huskies girls have three preliminary-round games on tap with an eye toward a hopeful advance into Monday’s playoff action. They start action Saturday at 11:10 a.m. on the USA Rink against Selects Academy and then have two matchups slated for Sunday.

Northwood’s girls face Rothesay Netherwood School at 11:15 a.m. on the 1980 Rink and finish play Sunday with a showdown against Appleby College at 6:40 p.m. on the 1932 Rink.

The Huskies boys prep squad is coached by Jeff Selingo and will play three opening-round games in as many days starting at 4 p.m. today against Islander U18 on the 1980 Rink. Their next two contests will be held on the USA ice surface, with Saturday’s contest against Cheshire Academy starting at 2:45 p.m., and Sunday’s matchup against the Fountain Valley School slated for 9 a.m. The Northwood prep team’s record currently stands at 9-7-6.

All games are free of charge and open to the public.