With 10 sophomores and freshmen on its roster, Shaker/Colonie is among the youngest teams skating in the Capital District High School Hockey League.
“We’ll continue to emphasize the process,” Jets coach Scott Rock said. “Years ago, when we merged with Colonie, our motto was the road to success is under construction. With this team, it’s the same thing. We’re focusing on the journey. If we work hard and have a great attitude, we’ll be a success.”
Jets sophomore starting goalie Ali Caruso epitomizes the qualities Rock is stressing.
“I didn’t do as good as I wanted to. I wish I could have stopped a few more,” she said after Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Niskayuna/Schenectady at Messa Rink. “I just try to get better every game. Try to fix it in practice and come back better.”
Caruso has been playing hockey for only three years, and it’s been less than a month since she saw her first high school shot on goal. Since then, she’s picked up two wins, including a shutout. She’s also been on the losing end of some big scores.
“It’s a lot more competitive than the other,” said Caruso, who also plays with the Clifton Park Dynamo girls’ team. “It’s a lot more challenging, but it’s a great experience.”
Caruso did not see any game action as a varsity backup last season. The 16-year-old Shaker student earned the starting position with her performance in a Dec. 11 game against Plattsburgh when freshman Connor Harris allowed six goals in the first period, and she gave up five over the next two.
“What I like about Ali is she’s fearless,” Rock said. “The shots come softer in the girls’ league. Twenty miles per hour, and 70, 80 miles per hour, that’s different. She’s not afraid of varsity boys’ hockey.”
Caruso’s older brothers Andrue and Jonathan played for Shaker/Colonie, and her younger brother, Jared, a freshman forward, is a teammate.
“At first, I was a little hesitant,” said Caruso, who plays soccer and competes with the Scotia-based U.S. Water Ski Show Team. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I did it, and I really like it.
“The guys support me a lot. It’s a fun group. They’re always encouraging me.”
Caruso made 17 saves, but gave up nine goals, in two periods of work when Shaker/Colonie opened its season with a 13-2 loss to Mamaroneck.
“That made me want to do better,” Caruso said. “I just can’t get down on myself.”
Caruso bounced back with her shutout, making 16 saves when the Jets defeated Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville 5-0. A week ago, she turned in a 19-save performance in a 7-6 win against Saranac.
“She is good on the first shot,” Rock said. “That’s when we need to come in and clear. That’s doesn’t always happen with a young team. You need help out there.”
Rock said he’s never heard a disparaging remark from his 5-foot-2 netminder, who has aspirations to compete at the college level.
“She’s very humble,” he said. “She doesn’t cast blame. She’s not going to say, ‘Where’s my defense?’ You never get that from her. She is a good teammate.”
And an athlete on the rise.
“She had good technique. She moves well, but she can get better and she will work to get better. She’s a hard worker,” Rock said. “She needs to improve her skating post to post, and skating behind the goal. She’s got to get bigger in net. Come out and cut down angels.”
Caruso is confident she will improve, and her team will, too.
“We all have to work together and work hard,” she said. “We have to put in the effort and believe we can do it. Anyone can do what they put their mind to.”
Niskayuna/Schenectady senior Kevin Canty scored three times to pace the Mohawks Saturday, two coming in the second period after the Jets pulled within 2-1 on a goal by Sean Orr.
Canty completed his hat trick in the third period.
Caruso made 14 saves, and James Blanchfield had 32 stops for the Mohawks, 18 in the third period.
Shaker/Colonie 0 1 1 — 2
Nisk./Schenectady 2 2 1 — 5
First period — 1, NS, Joe Laurange (Zack LeBlanc), 4:52. 2, NS, Evan Maloney (LeBlanc), 6:44.
Second period — 3, SC, Sean Orr (Ethan Poole), 8:36. 4, NS, Canty (Max Ronesi), 9:45. 5, NS, Canty (Jacob Bourque), 14:00.
Third period — 6, NS, Canty, 13:56; 7, SC, Vincent Montuori (Poole), 14:50.
Goalkeepers — Shaker/Colonie, Ali Caruso, 14 saves. Niskayuna/Schenectady, James Blanchfield, 32 saves.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports