Pittsford dictated play with its specialty teams Saturday and booked a 3-2 overtime win in the New York state Division I hockey semifinals over Saratoga Springs.
Pittsford went 2-for-2 on its power plays in regulation before scoring on a quick rush in overtime. The Panthers’ penalty kill stopped all five Blue Streaks’ power plays.
“They pressured us a lot. We’re not really used to that,” Saratoga’s Tyler Bullard said of the Pittsford PK. “A lot of teams let us roam around, do whatever we want and set it up. They pressured us. They had a guy on the puck at all times and made it tough. We couldn’t find that lane. Try to cut back door, we couldn’t find anything.”
The loss ended Saratoga’s hopes of a third straight trip to the state championship game. Pittsford play for the title today against Section I’s Suffern, which beat Section III’s West Genesee in a shootout, 3-2.
Still, the Blue Streaks overcame two coaching changes this season to post an 18-7-0 record.
“We played a hell of a game, we left it all on the ice, and that’s all you can ask of the guys,” Saratoga goalie Ryan Bourgeois said. “We played a hell of a season to get here.”
The Streaks got on the board first, 3:38 into the first period when Matt Klingbeil skated the puck behind the goal and sent a centering pass past the right post. The puck hit a defenseman and caromed past goalie Luke Loveys.
Bourgeois robbed the Panthers’ leading scorer, Max Kaufman, of a goal at 1:08 in the second period, sliding to his left and gloving a shot seemingly destined for the top shelf.
At 8:30 in the second, Saratoga was whistled for its first penalty, a slash on Alex Luse.
Kaufman, a sophomore, tied the game 41 seconds later, skating on a rush through the left circle, switching to his backhand to cross the top of the crease, then finishing at the far post.
Pittsford went on its second power play early in the third. Bourgeois had his stick knocked from his hand and scooped into the corner. It eventually made its way out toward the blue line before one of the Streaks swept it away from the boards.
Meanwhile, Bourgeois had held his own without his paddle.
“It felt like eternity, but maybe 20 seconds. Maybe a shift,” Saratoga coach David Torres said. “What are you going to do? We talked about that. Us old guys know the defenseman [should] give the goalie his stick and go to the bench to get another one, but the guys didn’t do that. They know it now. It’s a learning experience.”
The whistle blew when a Saratoga player swept the stick away from the boards, because that is not allowed. A player is allowed to pick up the stick and carry it to the goalie, but not to sweep it across the ice.
That set up another Pittsford advantage, and the Panthers got their second goal when Marc Weyl knocked the puck past Bourgeois at the right post.
Though the Streaks were unable to convert a power play, they did get a goal with an extra man. With 1:20 left in regulation, Bourgeois was pulled for an extra attacker.
With 1:05 left, Brendon Wormley sent a pass from the left corner to Bullard in the right circle, who fired top-shelf to force overtime.
Just over two minutes before that equalizer, Bullard had been lying face-down near the Pittsford goal, forcing a stoppage of play.
“I got kind of cheap-shotted from behind,” Bullard said. “I knew our team needed a little bit of a rest, also, so I tried to give the team some time to recouperate and try to score a big goal to tie it up.”
Kaufield answered, though, 42 seconds into overtime with a speedy rush into the zone to beat Bourgeois with a wrister.
“It sucks. Seeing all these seniors go out, it’s hard to watch them leave,” Bullard said. “It hurts right now, but we know we’ve still got a great team coming out next year. Hopefully, we can do the same thing, get back here, finish it.”
Pittsford 0 1 1 1 — 3
Saratoga Springs 1 0 1 0 — 2
First Period — 1, Saratoga Springs, Matt Klingbeil (Brett Merriman), 3:38.
Second Period — 2, Pittsford, Max Kaufman (Luke Loveys), 9:11 (pp).
Third Period — 3, Pittsford, Marc Weyl (Corey Parke), 4:20 (pp). 4, Saratoga Springs, Tyler Bullard (Brendon Wormley, Nick Winters), 13:55.
Overtime — 5, Pittsford, Kaufman, :42.
Goalies — Pittsford, Loveys, 19 saves. Saratoga Springs, Ryan Bourgeois, 18 saves.