SaraPlacid Squirts fall in ESWG opener

SaraPlacid’s Ryan Bartholomew puts a shot on net during the second period of Friday’s game against Saugerties during the opening day of the Empire State Winter Games. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — Despite a tough loss in Empire State Winter Games action Friday, the SaraPlacid squirt hockey team learned that sometimes losing is just what is needed to get better. The home team lost to Saugerties 11-2.

Saugerties jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, putting away three goals in the first period. Despite a 13-4 advantage in shots on net, SaraPlacid created some opportunities but couldn’t find the back of the net.

The home team picked up some steam in the second period, when Brice Heery fed the puck to Ayden McCormick, who put a backhander on net. But Saugerties goaltender Jude Signore batted it out of harm’s way. Signore ended the contest with 13 saves, while SaraPlacid’s netminder CJ Ericson had 26 saves.

Saugerties continued to score, and with about five minutes left in the second period, the visitors had an 8-0 advantage. With that came the rule change that the clock would remain running for the rest of the game.

McCormick finally broke the shutout with just over four minutes left in the period when he buried a slapshot that went above Signore’s right shoulder on an assist from Ryan Bartholomew. Bartholomew then got his own tally with 40 seconds left in the stanza to make the score 10-2 going into the third period.

SaraPlacid squirt hockey goaltender CJ Ericson keeps an eye on a high shot during Friday’s loss to Saugerties at the USA Rink in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Ericson stayed strong in the net with some big saves in the third, even as Saugerties continued to pound shots on net. Ericson only let one past him in the final period, despite a 33-13 Saugerties advantage in shots on net for the game.

SaraPlacid coach Chris Ericson said it was good for his kids to play a team from outside the area.

“I think they had fun. I think they had more fun in the first period and third period since we kind of let it get away from us in the second,” he said. “I think it’s always fun to play teams you don’t normally play and see what you’re like against other competition in the state.

“I think they’re taking away that they have to work hard all the time, that they need to learn to skate faster and be stronger on the puck. Some of the teams in our area that we beat pretty handily aren’t indicative of what squirt hockey is everywhere, so it’s a reality check for a lot of the kids that they have to work harder.”

McCormick said he was happy with the way his team played despite the loss.

Team SaraPlacid players Ayden McCormick, center, and Ryan Bartholomew, left, keep the puck away from Hayden Bowman, of Saugerties, during Friday’s Empire State Winter Games at the USA Rink in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“I think we played pretty good today,” he said. “We struggled a little bit in the second period but we were doing pretty good in the first period and then in the third period we kind of came back together.

“It’s fun, and when you’re playing good teams it gets more fun.”

The Empire State Winter Games continues today with sporting events around Lake Placid and Wilmington.