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SLP girls finish with a flurry, tie PHS

When the Saranac Lake Placid girls hockey team scored with less than a minute left in Tuesday’s game to beat Beekmantown 3-2, head coach Butch Martin exclaimed “That win made our season.”

On Wednesday, the team’s season became a whole lot sweeter.

In the fourth and final game of their pandemic-shortened schedule, SLP’s girls rallied to earn a tie with Plattsburgh High.

After losing their first two games of the season to the Hornets by a combined 13-2 score, SLP finished in a 4-4 deadlock with Plattsburgh when Dariana Patterson sent home a shot with 36 seconds remaining in regulation.

Facing an opponent that advanced all the way to the state final four last winter, SLP’s players completed their season on a high note after COVID-related adjustments made to their schedule resulted in two canceled games. Instead of playing six contests against three different teams, SLP took on Beekmantown once and faced a talented Plattsburgh squad three times.

Wednesday’s game was the third time SLP competed in as many nights.

Patterson scored twice for SLP in the third period, including burying the game-tying goal after senior Whitney Battistoni was pulled from the net to put an extra attacker on the ice. With the contest even at 4-4 at the end of regulation, the teams headed into a five-minute sudden death period that wound up scoreless. Martin, however, said his squad came close to putting the puck in the net during sudden death for what would have been a huge upset victory.

“We actually had a chance to pull it out in the last minute of overtime,” Martin said. “It would have been great to get the win, but in the end, the feeling was, ‘We’ll take the tie and get out of town. We just tied the state semifinalists who basically pummeled us the last two times out.’

“It definitely felt like a win,” Martin continued. “The girls were thrilled. Seeing the joy on their faces, even after the final buzzer sounded, coach (Josh) Dann and I were just tickled.”

Each team found the back of the net once in the first period. Reylyn Giroux put Plattsburgh on top 4:30 into the contest and Mia Nichols scored the equalizer for SLP with 1:30 left on the clock.

The Hornets got a couple quick goals to start the second. Gillian Boule scored just 1:05 into the period and Amanda Vaughn tacked on a tally at the 4:43 mark to give the hosts a 3-1 edge. Brooklyn Shumway scored the final goal of the second, cutting SLP’s deficit to 3-2 at the 6:52 mark of the period.

Patterson, a junior, tied the score at 3-3 with her first goal of the game, which came 6:01 into the third period. It only took the Hornets 10 seconds to answer when Ada Johnston scored to put her team back on top 4-3 on a goal that could have been a back-breaker. Instead of caving in, SLP hung tough and was rewarded when Patterson netted the equalizer late in the third with Sydney Dann and Rylee Preston assisting on the play.

“We pulled Whitney with about 1:50 on the clock, and we got some good pressure in front their net,” Martin said. “It was a scramble in front, we just kept punching at it and it went in. I really think we stunned Plattsburgh.

“They have some girls who can really go, and we had some kids out there who hadn’t played in two years until a couple weeks ago. We worked hard, our defense shut them down, and Whitney came up big for us.”

Martin said SLP’s coaches and players were especially happy for Battistoni and Preston, the only seniors on the team who ended five-year long high school hockey careers.

“What a great moment it was for Rylee Preston and Whitney Battistoni,” Martin said. “And for the kids coming back, this was huge for them. The way we improved, the way the kids worked, if it had been a regular season, I think we could have competed with any team in the state. Josh Dann and I have committed to come back for what will hopefully be a full season. We’re losing two great players, but we have some talent coming back.”

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