Blue Streaks bring home state hockey crown
UTICA The wait is over for the Saratoga Springs hockey team.
One year after a disappointing overtime loss in the semifinals, the Blue Streaks put on their second dominant display in as many days, beating Rochester McQuaid, 5-0, Sunday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium for their first Division I state championship since 1999.
Saratoga was making its fourth straight trip to the Final Four, and was playing in its third state title game in that span.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Ryan Flynn scored two goals and assisted on two more, and his brother, Matt, also an all-tourney selection, added a goal and an assist as the Blue Streaks became the first Section II team to win more than one Division I state hockey championship.
“To come in and help win a state championship, it’s the best,” said Ryan Flynn, who had four goals and three assists as the Blue Streaks and a large contingent of fans turned the building into a ’Toga party.
“It was a great, great playoff tournament. They deserve it,” said coach Dave Torres. “I thought all along we were the best team in the state, and they proved it.”
“I can’t even put it into words. I’m at a loss,” said senior Devin Smith, whose saw the final week of his varsity career begin with the loss of his grandfather and end with a state title. “The week started out a little rough. These guys supported me all the way. It’s just unbelievable.
“This is, by far, the best hockey experience of my life.”
“It was hard work and dedication,” said senior Tyler Bullard, who was named the state DI Player of the Year. “If you outwork a team, chances are you’re going to beat them.”
Matt Flynn had nine goals and seven assists, and Ryan Flynn had six goals and eight assists in Saratoga’s postseason run, their first high school postseason experience.
Both Flynns and goaltender Dakota Smith — who stopped 27 of 28 shots in the two games — were playing elsewhere until their senior year, the Flynns competing in juniors and Smith playing at CBA.
“I think those guys put us over the top,” said Torres, who had 17 players back from last year’s team.
“We were already contenders, but adding the brothers and Dakota, that was great for us. It really showed in the playoffs,” said Devin Smith, whose fourth trip here paid off with a championship.
Ryan Flynn opened the scoring when he converted a penalty shot, which was awarded when he was taken down after his brother put him into the Knights’ zone unchecked.
Flynn waited as Knights’ goalie Brian Kick came out to cut the angle, then banged his wrist shot off Kick’s skate and into the net at 6:01.
“I didn’t really have a move going in, I wanted to see what was open, and that’s where I was going to shoot it,” said Flynn of his penalty shot. “Getting an early lead helps us settle in. We knew we needed to work hard, every game, every shift.”
The Flynns were at it again six minutes later, as Matt Flynn once more found his brother in a seam behind the Knights’ defense. He made another great pass, hitting his brother in stride. Ryan Flynn finished the play with a shot over Kick’s shoulder at 11:52.
“We got that first goal both games. That’s giant, especially in the playoffs,” said Bullard. “You want to take the momentum away.”
Senior co-captain Nick Winters made it 3-0 with a power-play goal in the second period, and Matt Flynn got the final two goals, both set up by his brother, before leaving the game with an apparent shoulder injury incurred when he was roughly checked into the end boards by Michael Campbell, resulting in a four-minute major and ejection from the game.
“We were pumped. We knew how tough the games we going to be, and we just came out and played hard and played smart,” Winters said. “We played disciplined hockey.”
After allowing eight shots in the first period, the Blue Streaks tightened up in the defensive end, giving up just nine over the last 30 minutes.
They gave up just one goal on 28 shots during two days, and surrendered just three in their six postseason games.
“We contested every single shot,” said senior defenseman Brendon Wormley, who, with Dakota Smith, was named second team all-state. “The forwards stepped up, and we played great team defense.”
McQuaid 0 0 0 — 0
Saratoga Springs 2 2 1 — 5
First period — 1, Saratoga Springs, Ryan Flynn, 6:01 (penalty shot). 2, Saratoga Springs, R. Flynn (Matt Flynn, Tyler Bullard), 11:52.
Second period — 3, Saratoga Springs, Nick Winters (Brendon Wormley), 7:11 (pp). 4, Saratoga Springs, M. Flynn (R.Flynn, Drew Patterson), 12:14.
Third period — 5, Saratoga Springs, M. Flynn (R. Flynn), 9:40.
Goaltenders — Saratoga Springs, Dakota Smith, 16 saves. McQuaid, Brian Kick, 23 saves.