Red Storm, Larries even again
SARANAC LAKE — Two meetings, two ties.
The Saranac Lake and St. Lawrence Central boys hockey teams met for the second time this season Tuesday with a similar result. After finishing in a 5-5 deadlock over the Christmas break in the Malone tournament, the Red Storm and Larries battled to another hard-fought tie, this time by a 4-4 score.
Playing on home ice, Saranac Lake rallied three times in the contest. Rhett Darrah wound up burying the last goal of the night, scoring with 6:31 remaining in the third period to pull Saranac Lake even at 4-4. The Larries and Red Storm then went on to play scoreless hockey during the remainder of regulation and in a five-minute sudden-death overtime.
Darrah finished with a hat trick and Robert Stephenson found the back of the net once for Saranac Lake. Jah Robertson paced St. Lawrence with a hat trick, and Mason Frary netted the Larries’ other goal. One of the big stars on the ice was St. Lawrence’s sophomore goaltender Jonah Burnett, who finished with 36 saves, including stops on a handful of breakaways by different Saranac Lake skaters.
St. Lawrence held 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 leads before Darrah sent home the final equalizer.
The Red Storm out shot the Larries 42-24.
“I thought it was a really well-played game from the drop of the puck,” Saranac Lake head coach Will Ellsworth said. “We had some golden opportunities throughout and just some missed chances. Overall, St. Lawrence plays a very opportunistic style. They’ve had success with their fast break and quick neutral zone play the past three years. They pack it in on their D end, they rely on a turnover, jump on it and just go.
“Regardless of the score, I think we played with pretty good confidence tonight,” Ellsworth added. “We had some nice breakouts, tried to spread the ice out. I’m pretty happy going into Plattsburgh tomorrow night and into the playoffs. Not too many turnovers, and that’s what I look for from my squad.”
Stephenson lifted Saranac Lake to a 1-0 edge on a goal from in close off assists from Steven Huyck and Patrick Wamsganz. The Larries answered with a pair of quick goals from Robertson, who is one of just two seniors on their young squad’s roster. Robertson netted his first at the 11:20 mark to knot the score, and then scooped up an errant pass just inside the Red Storm’s offensive zone and skated the length of the ice to beat Saranac Lake goalie Brayden Munn just 32 seconds later.
Trailing 2-1, the Red Storm got a big goal from Darrah, who tied the game at 2-2 with 1:32 remaining in the first period.
The Larries netted the only goal of the second period, with Frary scoring at the 11:28 mark to give the visitors a 3-2 edge.
Saranac Lake went on to outscore the Larries 2-1 in the final period to forge the deadlock. Darrah netted his second to tie the game with 1:16 gone in the period, St. Lawrence answered less than two minutes later with Robertson’s third to put his team back on top. Darrah then rounded out the scoring later in the stanza with his third of the game.
On the tying tally, the Red Storm took advantage of a turnover deep in the St. Lawrence end when a defender coughed the puck up right in front of his net. Senior Austen Reyell jumped on the turnover and got the puck to Darrah, who beat Burnett from the right side of the net.
Reyell and Carter Sturgeon finished with two assists each for Saranac Lake and Ben Munn also chipped in with one assist. Robertson added an assist for St. Lawrence to lead all scorers in the game. Frary, Noah Adams, Kade Hayes and Will Silver contributed an assist each for the Larries.
Ellsworth used the game, in part, to get some playing time in for his group of goaltenders. With senior Bruno Freeman out of the lineup for the night, two youngsters and veteran Jayden Gladd each worked one period between the pipes. Eighth-grader Brayden Munn started in nets for the Red Storm and recorded seven saves in the first period. Freshman Kayden Reiley followed with three saves in the second period, and Gladd, a senior who was back in the lineup after recovering from an illness, finished the contest with a 10-save performance in the third and overtime. Saranac Lake held a 4-2 edge in shots on goal in the five-minute extra period.
St. Lawrence head coach Mickey Locke thought Burnett came through with his best effort of the season in goal to help the visitors gain the tie.
“He looked really confident in there,” Locke said. “His pattern this year has been to play well through the course of a game and then give up a soft goal. He eliminated that soft goal, so it was a pretty good effort.”
Following the tie, the Larries now own a 2-9-4 record.
“Two ties, I guess we’re two-evenly matched teams,” Locke said. “I thought the game was up and down, and unfortunately for us, we made a real critical error at a bad time. We had a couple giveaways tonight.
“We’ve been blown out twice and all the other games we’ve been right in there. I’m elated,” Locke continued. “The last two years we’ve had some strong teams and going into this season, we knew it was going to be a a different scenario. The second half of the year, we’ve been very competitive.”
Saranac Lake’s record stands at 7-7-4 with two big Champlain Valley matchups remaining prior to the postseason . The Red Storm has a difficult task on tap tonight when they travel to face Plattsburgh, the CVAC’s top team that’s also ranked 11th in the state Division II sports writers poll. That game takes place at the Ameri-Can North Arena starting at 7 p.m. The two teams tied 3-3 when they met in Saranac Lake on Dec. 19.
The Red Storm wrap up the regular season at home on Feb. 15 against Beekmantown.
Saranac Lake 4, St. Lawrence Central 4
Red Storm 2 0 2 — 4
Larries 2 1 1 — 4
1. SL, Stephenson (Huyck, Wamsganz), 6:35; 2. SLC, Robertson (Adams), 11:20; 3. SLC, Robertson, 11:52; 4. SL, Darrah (Reyell, Sturgeon), 13:28.
5. SLC, Frary (Hayes, Robertson), 11:28.
6. SL, Darrah (Sturgeon, Ben Munn), 1:16; 7. SLC, Robertson (Frary, Silver), 2:46; 8. SL, Darrah (Reyell), 8:29.
Shots on goal: Saranac Lake 42, Saint Lawrence Central 24.
Saves: SLC, Burnett 36; SL, Br. Munn 7; K. Reiley 3, Gladd 10.