LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid hockey team might be finding its stride just at the right time.
With the playoffs less than a week away, the Blue Bombers notched their fourth straight win Wednesday, topping visiting Northeastern Clinton 4-1 in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference play at the Olympic Center.
In his final regular season game on home ice, senior Eddie Kane scored twice to pace Lake Placid, while Keegan Barney and Dillon Savage netted single goals for the winners. Jeff Smith made 10 saves to earn the win in nets in a game that saw the Blue Bombers hold a 27-11 edge in shots on goal.
In an attempt to gain control of an airborne puck, Lake Placid’s Shane McNierney puts pressure on the Northeastern Clinton net defended by goalie Cody Young and Josh Rabideau during Wednesday’s game in Lake Placid.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Blue Bombers goaltender Jeffrey Smith steers the puck away from the net as Reece Tucker applies pressure for the Cougars late in Wednesday’s game at the Olympic Center.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
After a scoreless first period, Lake Placid buried three pucks in the middle stanza to grab a 3-0 lead and then tacked on one more in the third after the Cougars scored to cut their deficit to 3-1.
"Northeastern always plays a pretty disciplined game of hockey," Lake Placid head coach Keith Clark said. "They make it hard to get to the net. In the second period, I thought we did a nice job getting to the net and getting second chances. That was a big factor in this win."
With the victory, Lake Placid improved to 5-3-1 in the CVAC and 13-4-2 overall. After winning, the Blue Bombers focused their attention on a game 10 miles away as Plattsburgh and Saranac Lake were involved in a tight contest that saw the Hornets escape from with a 2-1 triumph in overtime. Had the Red Storm taken the win, Lake Placid would have still been in the hunt for a second seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye, but as it turned out, the Blue Bombers will settle for third place behind Plattsburgh but will still host one postseason game.
Lake Placid's first two goals came off rebounds on shots fired from the point by senior Ryan Meyer, who finished with a pair of assists. Barney gave the Blue Bombers a 1-0 edge with a power-play goal 6:05 into the second period when he slid a rebound past Cougars goalie Cody Young from the left side of the net. Savage, a junior, then scored what proved to be the game-winner just 11 seconds later, banging home another rebound while getting knocked to the ice.
Kane followed with his first goal of the game on an end-to-end rush that pushed the Blue Bombers lead to 3-0 at the 9:55 mark of the second period. Trailing by three goals, NCCS got one back when Kastle Birch scored on the power play 2:02 into the third period, but Kane dashed any come-back hopes for the visitors when he answered less than a minute later on another rush up the ice.
With his two tallies, Kane leads the CVAC in goals scored with 27, which includes eight in his last three games. He also has 14 assists for 41 points. Nzoni Thompson and Shane McNierney each added an assist for Lake Placid, which wraps up the regular season on the road Friday against Plattsburgh. The Hornets defeated the Blue Bombers 4-3 in the first meeting between the teams this season.
"This is the time of year when you have to bring it every game," Clark said. "We played well today, I just would have liked to see us get off to a better start."
After kicking off the schedule with seven wins in a row and then going through a slump where they only won twice in their next seven starts, the Blue Bombers are looking to maintain their winning ways. They will be hoping to gain some momentum with a win in Friday's regular-season game at Plattsburgh, and after that, it's do or die as the Section VII playoffs begin on Tuesday.
"We won seven straight to start the season," Kane said. "This is our fourth win in a row, and if we can go 7-0 again, we'll be champions. That's what we want."
Lake Placid 4, Northeastern Clinton 1
1. LP, Barney (Meyer, Thompson), 6:05, pp; 2. LP, Savage (Meyer), 6:16; 3. LP, Kane, 9:55.
4. NCCS, Birch (Leduc), 2:02, pp; 5. LP, Kane (McNierney), 2:53.
Shots on goal: Lake Placid 27, Northeastern Clinton 11.
Saves: LP, Smith 10; NCCS, Young 23.