Rivals to teammates?
Lake Placid and Saranac Lake may merge boys hockey, Alpine ski teams
LAKE PLACID — More team mergers may be on the horizon.
Saranac Lake and Lake Placid school officials are in talks about possibly merging the Lake Placid Blue Bombers and Saranac Lake Red Storm boys hockey and Alpine ski teams.
Before that could happen, Section VII officials would need to sign off on the mergers, as would both school districts’ boards of education.
Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Roger Catania said the boards could vote on the mergers as soon as next month.
“We’re being urged to make a decision sooner rather than later,” he said Tuesday, noting that game schedules will start to come together soon.
The discussions were spurred primarily by a lack of participation on Lake Placid’s teams. The limited number of players has sometimes prompted them to forfeit hockey games due to illness and injuries.
Continuing school enrollment decline has eroded Lake Placid’s sports programs in recent years. Two years ago, the hockey team was down to nine players during a game. This year, the team relied on just one goalie, sophomore Anders Stanton.
Saranac Lake’s teams have more robust numbers, but Catania said they’re projected to decline in the next few years.
“If we don’t merge, we could just not have enough players to fill the team,” he said.
A public forum on the potential mergers was held at the Saranac Lake Golf Club in Ray Brook last Tuesday.
Catania said some parents who attended raised concerns about merging the Alpine ski teams because that would eliminate both teams’ only competition in Section VII.
“There’s probably more that we would lose by merging those teams than we would gain,” he said, noting that it’s less likely now the alpine ski teams will be merged after hearing those concerns. “I think we’re more comfortable now with taking the next step with the boys hockey team.”
At the Lake Placid Board of Education meeting Tuesday, there was also some discussion about potentially developing a junior varsity boys hockey team — or else asking the local youth hockey association to form a team for younger players to allow them to further develop their skills.
“Our greatest concern is that we don’t have enough numbers to sustain any program,” Catania said. “(Saranac Lake-Lake Placid) teams are the best way to do that.”
The high schools’ girls hockey teams merged in 2017. It now competes under the name Saranac Lake Placid. In SLP’s first two seasons playing as a combined squad, the girls reached the Section VII championship game. This past season they won the regular season sectional title.
UPDATE: The boys hockey and Alpine ski team merger is on the agenda for the Saranac Lake Board of Education meeting today, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Petrova school library.
Senior Sports Writer Lou Reuter contributed to this report.