SARATOGA SPRINGS — Mack Ogden was getting to the goal.
No matter what.
Ogden, the senior captain of the Saratoga Springs ice hockey team, knew his team needed a jolt early in the second period of Wednesday’s Section II Division 1 quarterfinal against Shenendehowa at Weibel Avenue Rink. After whiffing on five power-play opportunities in the game’s first 16 minutes, Saratoga Springs needed a goal to prevent Shenendehowa from keeping the momentum the Plainsmen had gained from weathering the early storm.
Ogden provided that, intercepting a pass at the blue line and powering to the net, warding off a Shenendehowa defender with one arm before gathering and scoring with 13:17 left in the second period.
“That’s just a goal that you want to score — in front of the student section, in an elimination game,” Ogden said after his goal sparked the Blue Streaks to a 3-0 win. “I was trying so hard just to get to the net. We need shots — shots mean goals, obviously — and even if it didn’t go in, a rebound’s there and we’ve got guys crashing.”
Charlie Leary added a goal eight minutes later and Andrew Blanchard found the back of the net in the third period, but it was Ogden’s all-effort goal that set the tone for Saratoga Springs’ win.
“He’s a kid that never quits,” Saratoga Springs (No. 2, 17-5) coach Tim Horst said of Ogden. “He gives 110%, all the time, and he’s a leader. We needed somebody to step up, and he did. That’s just the kid he is. It’s just a perfect goal to illustrate who he is.”
Brad Blake made 19 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season for the Blue Streaks.
In three games against bitter rival Shenendehowa this season, Blake allowed just one goal on 58 shots and notched a pair of shutouts to lead Saratoga Springs to a season sweep.
“They haven’t scored in the last two games we’ve played against them, and that’s a credit to Brad,” Horst said. “He’s in a zone right now, and that’s exactly where we need him to be.”
Blake was at his best in the first period, keeping the game scoreless. Saratoga Springs dominated play in the opening 15 minutes, and spent the bulk of the period in the Shenendehowa zone — much of that on the power play — but the Blue Streaks’ offense came up empty.
Shenendehowa (No. 7, 9-11-2) had a couple of chances to break through on odd-man rushes, but Blake was up to the task every time.
“We know that if they can get a goal, they can really feed off that energy for the rest of the game,” Blake said.
“We had two to three really good chances when it was 0-0 that really could’ve made a difference in the game,” Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha said.
Goalie Kent Leighton stopped 30 shots for Shenendehowa.
“He really did give us a chance as that game was going on,” de la Rocha said.
Saratoga Springs will face third-seeded Christian Brothers Academy, a 4-0 winner over La Salle on Tuesday, in Saturday’s semifinal round at Union College.
The other semifinal will feature top-seeded Bethlehem, which scored a 5-2 win Wednesday over Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, and No. 5 seed Adirondack, which knocked off the fourth-seeded G/M/S/S/V Storm 3-1 on Wednesday.
Shenendehowa 0 0 0 — 0
Saratoga Springs 0 2 1 — 3
Shenendehowa scoring: None. Saratoga Springs scoring: Ogden 1-0, C. Leary 1-0, Blanchard 1-0, Lefebvre 0-1, Detora 0-1. Goalies: Shenendehowa, Leighton, 30 saves; Saratoga Springs, Blake, 19 saves.
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.