Boys’ hockey merger is one skate closer

Lake Placid’s Hunter Spotts, left, and Saranac Lake’s Ben Munn mix it up as the rival hockey teams play each other on Jan. 31. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake Central School District board voted to approve a merger of the boys hockey teams of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. The merger now falls on the Lake Placid board, which has expressed some concern.

On Wednesday night the Saranac Lake school board voted to approve the merger with no discussion before their decision. Before the meeting, it was uncertain whether the vote would take place at that meeting or the next, which would be on July 3. But Superintendent Diane Fox said she’d heard no further discussion since the meetings that took place among parents and at each of the school boards. Since news of the merger had spread so widely, she said she and the board took that lack of further response as an agreement among the parents.

“We didn’t feel there was any reason to delay the vote,” Fox said.

At the May 28 Saranac Lake board meeting, Athletic Director Eric Bennett said approving the merger would help the two districts, as well others around the state, as schedules for the 2019-20 hockey season are already being drawn up for other schools.

The Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education discussed the merger at its meeting on Tuesday, but took no action.

Board members again expressed concerns about younger students who may not be ready to play varsity hockey and discussed the possibility of either creating a junior varsity team, or asking the local youth hockey association to form a minor league team.

“My concern is if we merge and create two teams,” said Richard Preston, president of the school board. “It’d basically be a wash.”

Lake Placid Athletic Director John Burdick said he didn’t think a midget hockey team would have much local competition. He estimated there are four of them in the North Country.

“I just don’t think the numbers are there,” he said.

Between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, he estimated 30 students would try out for the hockey team in the next academic year. Long-term, Burdick said he expects the number of players is going to correct itself.

Superintendent Roger Catania said the board of education would likely vote on the potential merger at their next meeting on July 2.