The Saratoga Springs hockey team must have its own kind of math.
Why else would head coach Dave Torres think that 13 could equal one, which would then equal two?
Torres is confident that the Blue Streaks, ranked 13th in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association poll, have the talent to win the Division I title at this weekend’s state championships at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
If the Streaks do skate around rink with the trophy, it will be their second state championship in three years.
Thirteen equals one equals two.
But about that 13.
The Streaks (16-6-2) will face Section III championship Baldwinsville in the second game of Saturday’s Division I semifinal double-header at 5:45 p.m.. The Bees are ranked third in the state.
The other semifinal pits the top two teams in the state — No. 1 McQuaid of Section V and No. 2 Scarsdale of Section I.
“We like going in as the underdog,” said Torres Monday as he took a break from watching tape of Baldwinsville’s Section III championship victory over Syracuse. “We were the underdog when we won it all two years ago. Look at the rankings. You have McQuaid, Scarsdale, Baldwinsville, and then Saratoga toward the bottom. That’s OK with me.”
The Blue Streaks advanced to the semifinals with an impressive 8-0 victory over Monroe-Woodbury last weekend, a result that really didn’t surprise Torres.
“We’re playing good hockey, and we want it to continue,” he said, “I can’t dictate the score. Right now, we’re at the top of our game.”
Torres knew from the first time the Streaks stepped on the ice in the fall that this could be a special team.
“I knew we could be a sectional candidate, that we were good enough to get to the sectional final,” he said. “We have seven or eight guys who have state championship experience, so I’m not surprised. The guys came back hungry after losing in the sectional final last year. They want to go out on top.”
That playoff experience will be a big factor in Saratoga’s success this weekend. Senior defensemen Cam McCall and Ian Frey have been on the ice and in the do-or-die atmosphere at Utica before, as have JT Rafferty and Elliott Hungerford, among others.
“I’m going to rely on the veteran guys to tell the younger kids what to expect, how to approach the game,” said Torres. “This isn’t the regular season anymore. If you lose, you’re done.”
Torres also likes the fact that some of his players have picked up their games in the playoffs. Hungerford, who is tied for the scoring lead with 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists), has 16 points (6-10) in four playoff games after scoring 15 in 15 regular-season contests. Rafferty scored five goals in 20 regular-season games, but has seven in the playoffs.
“That also happened two years ago,” said Torres. “People forget that Ryan Flynn had 16 points during the regular season, but that he had 14 in the playoffs. It’s the guys with experience who step up in the big games.”
Baldwinsville, which won the Section III title for the first time ever, comes in with an 18-4-2 record after beating Ithaca, 2-1, in the regionals. Junior goalie Matt Sabourin has a .938 save percentage, and the Bees have a balanced attack, led by 5-foot-8, 150-pound junior Joe Glamos (20-18-38), senior Matt Abbott (19-18-37) and sophomore Adam Tretowicz (15-17-32).
“They’re quick,” said Torres. “We’ve got to keep bodies on them, and not get caught looking at the puck. We’ve got to keep an eye on the ‘B’ on their chests. The ‘B’ is a lot bigger than the puck.”
Senior Danny Hobbs will be in goal for the Streaks. Although he has an .866 save percentage, that number is deceptive, because he’s only seeing an average of 12 shots per game.
“He’s had some bumps in the road, like any goalie, but the defense is playing well in front of him, and he’s looking forward to another challenge,” said Torres.
The two semifinal winners will play for the championship at 3:30 Sunday.
Categories: High School Sports