Bombers, Storm fall in opening tourney

Lake Placid’s Hayden Plank shields the puck from Niskayuna’s Kevin Abatto during the first game of Friday’s Casey McHugh Memorial Tournament at the Saranac Lake Civic Center. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

SARANAC LAKE — On the opening night of the eighth annual Casey McHugh Memorial Tournament, the two local hockey squads were topped by teams from the Captial Region. Niskayuna downed Lake Placid 3-1 in the first game, and Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa beat Saranac Lake 8-6.

The Blue Bombers got off to a sluggish start and the Mohawks capitalized when Jack Raymond found the back of the net on an assist from Patrick Trippany little more than three minutes into the contest. Lake Placid got some good looks but couldn’t score and went into the second period down 1-0.

Lake Placid junior Tyler Hinkley put the puck on net at the 13:30 mark of the second, but Niskayuna goaltender Tony Cotugno kicked out his right foot for the save. Cotugno finished with 36 saves, while Blue Bombers’ goalie Anders Stanton had 24.

The Mohawks scored again just over five minutes into the second when Nate Dominikoski claimed a loose puck in front of the net and slid it past Stanton. But the Bombers rallied and freshman Brendan Bullock snuck the puck past Cotugno on a breakaway to bring the score to 2-1. Lake Placid senior Hunter Spotts was credited with the assist.

Niskayuna forward Jeff Kent put away the insurance goal with about four and a half minutes left in the second period on an assist from Christopher Gallagher and Sanzio DiGesualdo.

Saranac Lake senior Austen Reyell rips a shot on net past Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa defender Sean Speck during the second game of the Casey McHugh Memorial Tournament. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

The Blue Bombers had a few more opportunities to score, but neither team could get another past the goalies. Bullock almost added an assist to his goal with 11 minutes left in the game, as he came down the right side of the ice and fed a perfect cross to Hinkley, but Cotugno was able to smother the puck and Niskayuna walked away with the win.

The Mohawks racked up seven penalties in the match, while Lake Placid was sent to the penalty box four times as Dustin Patterson, Hinkley, Jackson Smith and Hunter Wilmot each got booked.

Niskayuna coach Sean O’Connell said he thought his team played well, especially for the first game of the season.

“I thought we were a little sloppy in the first period, but I thought once we got into the second period we started playing our game a little bit more,” he said. “You know, first game of the season so there’s a lot that we can improve upon, but I thought we played well in the second and third periods.

“We want to see them set up more in the zone. We want to see them take more shots, which they did. Credit to their goalie (Stanton), he played an outstanding game. I thought we put some pretty quality shots on him and he stood tall. But overall, it was a good effort.”

Lake Placid’s Brendan Bullock skates in on goal during the second period of Friday night’s game against Niskayuna. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Lake Placid coach Butch Martin said that with a young squad, his team has a lot of growing to do. But he added that there’s lot of promise in the team, which has five seniors, six juniors, two sophomores, four freshmen and an eighth-grader.

“I thought we played pretty good. Some mistakes cost us, especially their third goal and the soft goal before that,” Martin said. “I thought we played them pretty even but we played a lot of young guys tonight and they got some good experience tonight.

“We threw in some freshmen defensemen and that didn’t hurt us. They’re a young group. The older guys got some young support now, and they know they have that.”

In the second game of the night, Saranac Lake lost 8-6 to Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa in a high-scoring affair that wrapped up around 10:30 p.m.

Lake Placid takes on BHBS at noon Saturday and the Red Storm challenge the Mohawks at 2 p.m. in the second and final day of tournament action.

Red Storm freshman Carter Sturgeon splits BHBS defenders during the first period of Friday night’s game at the Saranac Lake Civic Center. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)