When he told his friends at Schenectady High School a few years ago that he was joining the school’s hockey team, the response James Blanchfield received still makes him laugh.
“Wait,” they’d said, “we have a hockey team?”
For decades, Schenectady and Niskayuna have fielded a combined team to play in the Capital District High School Hockey League. In recent years, though, the team has been made up primarily of Niskayuna players. This season, Blanchfield and Kevin Canty are the lone Schenectady seniors on the Mohawks.
“It’s sort of different,” said Canty, who grew up down the street from Blanchfield. “We don’t go to school with those guys and we don’t see them as much as they see each other, but they’ve all been really nice and welcoming to us.”
The seniors are two of the three players from Schenectady High School that dot the Niskayuna/Schenectady roster this season, along with sophomore Joey Laurange. While small in numbers, the Mohawks’ Schenectady contingent have been major contributors for the squad. Canty and Laurange lead the team in goals scored, while Blanchfield has turned in another spectacular season in net.
“All three of those guys have huge roles for our team,” said Niskayuna/Schenectady’s Evan Maloney, a senior at Niskayuna High School. “They’re at the rink every day ready to go and they put up numbers.”
At different points this season, the team’s Niskayuna senior leaders — Zack LeBlanc and Maloney — have missed time with injuries. When those players have been absent, head coach Sean O’Connell said Blanchfield and Canty have been the guys his youthful team has looked to for guidance during a 4-11-1 season.
“It’s really easy for young kids to get frustrated when you go on a losing streak,” O’Connell said. “Kevin and James, they’ve been the leaders that have provided focus in practices and games, encouraging our players that each day is a new day and each game is a new game.”
Both Blanchfield and Canty played with the CP Dynamo club organization before joining the Mohawks. Blanchfield made his switch as a sophomore, while Canty made his as a junior.
“I was ready for something a little more [low-key],” Canty said. “High school hockey is very fun and I wanted to enjoy these years.”
“It’s been a different experience to represent your school,” Blanchfield said. “Last year, especially, we had a big fanbase and that was cool.”
Both the seniors already have their plans set for next school year. Canty is headed to the University of Rochester to study engineering, while Blanchfield — who is in the running to be his school’s valedictorian — will attend Harvard University to likely pursue interests in economics and film.
In CDHSHL action, Niskayuna/Schenectady visits Tri-Falls tonight.
BROTHERS IN SKIS
A unique trio inhabits the Niskayuna Alpine ski team’s roster. For the third and final season, head coach John Sharkey’s squad includes three brothers.
“It’s been awesome,” senior P.J. Fraterrigo said of competing alongside his younger brothers, junior Andrew Fraterrigo and freshman Nick Fraterrigo. “We know each other so well and have had similar ski experiences, so we can all do the same trails and enjoy them together.”
Each of the Fraterrigo brothers have been skiing since they were 2 years old, and each joined the high school team in seventh grade. As similar as the boys are to one another, their coach said each has his own unique traits. P.J. Fraterrigo, the oldest brother, is the most polished and is in good shape to earn a repeat trip to the state championships after next week’s sectionals. Middle brother Andrew is the reserved, pensive one. Little brother Nick is the team’s “humor guy.”
“Really, they’re their own kids,” Sharkey said. “They each have their own way of doing things and their own ways to be coached.”
One thing the boys can agree on is that there is little to no sibling rivalry between them when it comes to skiing.
“Getting to be around them all the time is pretty awesome,” said Nick Fraterrigo, who grew up chasing after his brothers on the slopes and around the house. “Coming together and doing what we all like is a lot of fun.”
“Having my brothers on the team with me, it gives me something to work for. It does carry some extra pressure, but not so much that you’re always thinking about it,” Andrew Fraterrigo said. “It just gives you more motivation to improve.”
The boys’ school skiing run as a trio will close after this season. P.J. Fraterrigo said the three brothers have made sure to cherish their final runs together as Niskayuna teammates.
“It’s a little bittersweet — but more sweet than bitter,” he said.
AT THE BUZZER
It’s the last Friday of the winter with Suburban Council hoops. With sectional seeds due to come out next Wednesday, plenty of tonight’s games are sure to have an impact. . . . Boys’ and girls’ matchups between Saratoga Springs and Shaker are critical. In the boys’ game, Saratoga Springs (7-8, 10-8) and Shaker (7-8,
7-11) are both still in the hunt for a first-round home game in the Class AA playoffs. In the girls’ game, Shaker (11-3, 14-4) travels to Saratoga Springs (8-6, 12-6), looking to avoid a third straight loss. . . . Schenectady (9-6, 11-7) heads across the river to play Troy (12-3, 14-4) in boys’ action. Troy is looking to strengthen its bid to be the No. 1 seed in the Class A draw, while Schenectady gets a high-profile chance to show how it’s recovering after losing star sophomore guard Tobias Holmes to a knee injury. . . . Finally, the Shenendehowa boys travel to Niskayuna. The Plainsmen (15-0, 18-0) have been played closer in recent games, and the Silver Warriors (9-6, 11-7) are coming off big victories against Saratoga Springs and Schenectady.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports