CLIFTON PARK — Saratoga Springs brought more energy and much more speed to its big rivalry game against Shenendehowa Wednesday night at Capital Arena, and it paid quick dividends.
The Blue Steaks scored two goals off Plainsmen defensive miscues in the first period and outshot Shenendehowa 42-25 in a 5-3 Capital District High School Hockey League game.
Saratoga improves to 2-1 in league play and 5-2 overall. Shen drops to 2-1 and 4-3.
“It was a good team effort,” Saratoga co-head coach Dave Torres said. “Our forechecking was working well. The coaching staff prepared these guys for this game and the atmosphere.”
Capital Arena was full of fans, and despite the fact that Shenendehowa had its usual strong rooting contention, the Blue Streaks brought enough support of their own to make things interesting.
“We talked about focusing on the ice. We told the kids don’t look at the crowd,” Torres said. “They are a rambunctious group here at Shen. They are all over you. You score first, and that quiets the crowd down.”
That’s what the Blue Streaks did by clicking for a pair of opportunistic goals.
Anthony LaMonda tallied an unassisted goal on a scrum in front just 2:35 into the game, and Mack Ogden scored the first of his two goals when the Plainsmen failed to clear the puck out of the neutral zone.
“Those two early goals were kind of broken plays,” Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha said. “One of them was off a face-off. It was a deflection, and it took a funny bounce after coming off a kid’s hip or shoulder. The other one started out with a miscue in the neutral zone.”
Shenendehowa regrouped and peppered Saratoga goalie Brad Blake, but Blake was up to the task. The Plainsmen didn’t score until Carter Hansen flipped in a backhander with about three minutes left in the period to cut the deficit to 2-1. “Brad’s saves were huge,” Torres said. “He’s had some tough games recently. He’s been working very hard in practice, and it showed tonight.”
Ogden said getting the early lead was extremely important.
“Our last few games, we haven’t played a full game. We wanted to come out and keep our momentum going the whole way,” Ogden said. “It’s always nice when you get that first goal, and that gets your confidence up. Everybody gets into the game, and they work that much harder.”
“He’s so fast,” Torres said of Ogden. “He gets to the puck and makes things happen. We changed lines up a little. We moved [Will] Ditora back. We wanted to get the puck to Ogden and utilize his speed. That was a key factor in the game tonight,” Torres said.
Saratoga stretched its lead to 3-1 when Joe Amodio knocked in the rebound of Ditora’s shot from the point at 5:51 of the second period. Devon Wormley gave the Blue Streaks a 4-1 edge when he fired in a wrister on a breakaway move against Shen goalie Kent Leighton.
Tyler Sullivan’s wrister between the circles on the power play cut Shen’s deficit to 4-2 before Ogden also scored on the power play to give Saratoga a 5-2 lead. Shen captain Brennan Alheim closed out the scoring with a couple of minutes left.
“Credit to Saratoga,” de la Rocha said. “They did a good job pressing against us tonight. We were a step behind all night. It’s a Shen-Saratoga game, and you get one of these a year at home. You hope they are ready to play. They weren’t ready to play tonight. We lost the game 5-3 not playing our best.”
Saratoga Springs 2 1 2 — 5
Shenendehowa 1 0 2 — 3
Saratoga Springs scoring: Will Detora 0-1, Mack Ogden 2-0, Devon Wormley 1-0, Griffin Sarver 0-2, Joe Amodio 1-0, Anthony LaMonda 1-0. Shenendehowa scoring: Zach Rupert 0-1, Tyler Sullivan 1-1, Brennan Alheim 1-1, Carter Hansen 1-0, TJ Novitsky 0-1, Nathan Novitsky 0-1.
Goalies: Saratoga Springs, Brad Blake, 22 saves; Shenendehowa, Kent Leighton, 37 saves.