GLENS FALLS — Most first-year programs set goals such as coming together as a team, winning a couple of games and laying a foundation for the program to continue.
Adirondack United has its sights set much higher. The girls’ ice hockey team, composed of six area public schools, achieved one of its goals Thursday by winning the Section II/VII regular season with an undefeated league record.
The key word in that last sentence was “one.” It also has goals of winning the section’s tournament, a state regional and, truth be told, a state championship all in its first year.
Whether Adirondack can do it remains to be seen, but with a 13-1 overall record, it’s not far-fetched.
Mostly collecting players from the Adirondack Northstars girls’ ice hockey club team, Adirondack has 30 players from the districts of Saratoga Springs, Corinth, South Glens Falls, Glens Falls, Queensbury and Hudson Falls.
Adirondack sent notice in its first game of the season, topping defending state champion Skaneateles. The only Section II team in its league, it beat Franklin Academy, Beekmantown and Saranac/Lake Placid each twice and also has a number of impressive non-league wins over teams it could see in the state tournament.
It won its section’s regular season with a hard-fought 3-2 overtime win over Franklin Academy on Thursday at its home rink of the Glens Falls Recreation Center. It beat the Huskies 6-1 the first time, so it had to be reminded that it’s now so successful, that every team is going to give it all it has.
“I find it very exciting because one of our top goals was to win the league first year out,” said goalie Ava Reynolds, a South Glens Falls junior. “We just came out and said, ‘We’re going to win the league.’ ”
Queensbury junior Bayley Duffy, a forward who had two goals Thursday, including the game-winning slap shot in overtime, said the United was able to carry over a lot of Northstars chemistry into its season, but also got some unexpected additions.
“We had some underclassmen that came out and really played a huge role. That was definitely a big part of team chemistry,” Duffy said.
“For the front end of the season, you demonstrate a lot of patience with the kids,” coach Jeff Willis said. “I give a lot of kids a lot of different opportunities. Even in [Thursday’s] game, I kind of went down to two lines, but I was sprinkling kids in there to see what they could do. There comes a point late in the season, you really want to ride your horses.”
Willis said his team’s strengths include a heavy forecheck, speed and aggressive defense. After a little tentativeness Thursday, all those elements were apparent.
“When we play in a different building — our rink’s a little bit shorter and smaller than a lot of other rinks — and we’re on a bigger sheet of ice, we’re actually more effective,” Willis said.
The players said chemistry has never been a problem, and that learning each other’s tendencies didn’t take long.
“The locker room plays a big role,” Duffy said. “We’re playing together at least four times a week, going on away weekend trips, sleeping in hotels.”
“I don’t feel like not going to the same school is a factor because we all just clicked,” Reynolds added.
Willis said he believes that the girls are having an “awesome” time this season.
“Winning’s a magic elixir,” Willis said. “We didn’t know what to expect, and we’ve kind of put things together. They work hard, they understand the system I’ve put together and they execute it very well.”
Beyond wins and losses, the players also feel good about being trendsetters, not just in Section II, but to younger girls.
“Especially for the people who don’t have the chance to play hockey at their school,” said defenseman Jenna Amodio, a sophomore at Saratoga Springs. “It just shows how exciting it is and how excited the people who have wanted a girls’ team are.”
“I see a lot of girls coming to the games and watching,” added forward Lillian Willis, a South Glens Falls sophomore, “and I know the impact we’re making on them.”
Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Email Newsletter, High School Sports, Saratoga Springs, Sports, Sports