Blue Streaks headed back to state hockey semis
SARATOGA SPRINGS Tom Naples made sure the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks get a chance to see if the third time really is the charm.
The senior swept home the winning goal at the end of a second-period power play Saturday as the Blue Streaks beat Section X champion Massena, 2-1, at the Saratoga City Ice Rink to advance to the Division I state semifinals in Utica. Saratoga Springs has lost in the championship game the last two seasons.
Just as a power play was ticking off its final second, Mike Layman sent a pass from the the right side to Naples in the slot. He sent the puck between the pads of Massena goalie Connor Paquin at 11:00 of the period for a 2-1 lead.
“I was wide open in front, and Layman put it right on my tape,” Naples said.
Just 41 seconds earlier, the Streaks all threw their hands in the air, thinking they had a power play goal from Brendon Wormley, but the light stayed dim and play continued.
Saratoga had to refocus in a hurry to take advantage of the remaining time with a man advantage.
“We thought it went in,” Naples said. “It definitely stops the momentum a little, but we picked it right back up.”
The Streaks (18-6) had trouble getting high-quality looks at the Massena net in the early going. Most of the chances from under the dots came thanks to the forecheck from the line of Devin Smith, Nick Winters and Tyler Bullard, but they were unable to beat Paquin (25 saves).
“We couldn’t go around the outside because they were packing in front of the net,” Naples said. “So we had to take shots from the blue line and crash the net.”
The Red Raiders (18-5) broke through at 6:25 of the second
period. Massena defenseman Cullen Baines was unable to keep the puck in the zone as it bounced over his stick, but he retrieved it in the neutral zone and sped back in alone.
Baines fired high from above the right circle, beating Saratoga goalie Ryan Bourgeois over his shoulder for a 1-0 lead.
That seemed to give the Streaks a kick in the pants. Just 2:27 later, Kyle Paton took a pass from Layman and entered the Massena zone, firing from above the left circle and beating Paquin to the top-right corner, a mirror image of the Baines goal.
That handed the Streaks a little momentum, and they ran with it.
“You can feel it, especially after the Kyle Paton goal,” Bourgeois said. “All the guys were amped up, and you could tell just by the way we were skating and getting pressure.”
“He put one up in the corner, and the goalie had no chance,” Saratoga coach Dave Torres said. “He does it all the time in practice; I yell at him all the time for shooting that shot. But he comes back to the bench and he says, ‘What about that shot, coach?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, good shot, Kyle.’ ”
Less than a minute later, Massena’s Luke Bender went to the penalty box for slashing, setting up Naples’ winner.
The Streaks outshot the Raiders, 13-5, in the final period. Bourgeois made 20 saves in the game, crediting his defense with keeping most of those shots to the outside.
“The one-on-ones, winning the battles, playing tough. Mike Layman played a hell of a game in front of my net, blocking shots, laying out,” Bourgeois said. “Dan Winters did a great job on the one-on-ones. Everybody out there on defense was just playing as hard as they can.”
The Streaks will face Section V champion Pittsford (22-2), a 4-1 winner over Section IV’s Ithaca, the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Massena 0 1 0 — 1
Saratoga Springs 0 2 0 — 2
First Period — No scoring.
Second Period — 1, Massena, Cullen
Baines, 6:25. 2, Saratoga Springs, Kyle Paton (Mike Layman), 8:52. 3, Saratoga Springs, Tom Naples (Layman), 11:00 (pp).
Third Period — No scoring.
Goalies — Massena, Connor Paquin, 25 saves. Saratoga Springs, Ryan Bourgeois, 20 saves.