Lake Placid overwhelmed in state semifinals

BUFFALO — In what turned out to be the final game of the hockey season for Lake Placid, the Blue Bombers ran into the type of talent they hadn’t come close to during the 24 games they ended up playing

On Saturday in the semifinal round of the state Division II final four, Section VI champion Kenmore East overwhelmed Lake Placid by claiming an 11-0 victory at the Harbor Center in Buffalo.

In this matchup, the Bulldogs took control early and were never threatened as they rolled into Sunday’s final against defending champion Skaneateles, which beat Pelham 3-1 in Saturday’s first semifinal.

Kenmore East surged out to a 6-0 lead in the opening period, added three more goals in the second and wrapped up the game by scoring two more times in the final stanza.

AJ Marinelli scored four goals and Trevor Pray notched a hat trick to lead Kenmore East. Anthony Tulipane added two goals in the win and Cullen Smyth and Justin Watson each scored once.

Already facing a 4-0 deficit, any chances that Lake Placid had to get back into the game ended in a hurry when Kenmore East netted its fifth and sixth goals during the final 21 seconds of the first period.

“They’re good and they proved it,” Lake Placid head coach Butch Martin said. “They’re by far the best team we’ve seen all year. They got on us fast and capitalized on anything we didn’t complete.

“At the beginning of the game when we possessed the puck we weren’t sure what to do with it,” Martin continued. “Sometimes we passed when we should have carried, sometimes we carried when we should have passed. Normally, we get the puck and we go and we make good plays after that, and we didn’t do that today. It had a lot to do with their talent. We got too far behind too early to stay with them.”

Pray put Kenmore East on the board 2:15 into the game, and Tulipane upped the Bulldogs lead to 2-0 when he found the back of the net four minutes later. The Marinelli show then kicked in for Kenmore East, as the senior scored three goals in a row to put the Bulldogs on top 5-0. He netted his third straight with 21 seconds remaining in the first. If things weren’t bad enough for the Blue Bombers at that point, Kenmore East buried one more puck before intermission when Watson scored with six seconds left in the period.

What made matters worse for the Blue Bombers was their top scorer and tri-captain, Chris Williams sustained a knee injury just minutes into the game and was never able to play at full speed after that.

“Chris banged it up pretty bad in the first three minutes and kind of one-legged it after that,” Martin said. “He wasn’t an offensive threat at all.”

Kenmore East’s three goals in the second period all came on the power play and in a span of less than four minutes. The Bulldogs netted their 10th tally 3:13 into the third period and made it an 11-0 final when Tulipane notched his second of the game with 6:42 left on the clock.

A member of competitive Western New York Hockey Federation that includes four divisions, Kenmore East improved to 16-7-1 overall. The Section VII champion Blue Bombers ended their season with an 18-5-1 record.

“They played pretty much a Division I schedule,” Martin said of Kenmore East. “Every team down here is good. We saw one of their lower teams in Niagara Falls and they were good. Kenmore East plays in a heck of a league. This is a hockey hotbed. When it comes to us maybe one third of our games are tough and the rest are not.”

Despite the tough setback, Martin, as well as his players said they couldn’t be any happier about making it into the final four for the second straight year.

“At the beginning of the year we weren’t given much of a chance to do anything,” said senior captain Noah Mohr. “Look what we’ve accomplished. We got back here despite all the odds. No loss ever feels good, but we achieved our goal — getting to the final four.

“I just think we kind of gave up early,” Mohr added. “They got two quick ones on us, and then one kid put his head down, and then every goal after that it just snowballed. Another kid and another kid. Myself included. After the first period, we just had to play hard and not get blown out, which happened. Despite this, we had a great season, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”

“I feel bad for the seniors, but they got back here and that was something that nobody gave them a chance to do,” Martin said. “They represented our section with class, they didn’t throw it in and they worked hard.”