If Dave Torres was a college coach, you’d say he had a good recruiting year.
He needed a goalie, and he got one.
He needed a couple of forwards, and got those, too.
But in all fairness to Torres, who begins his second season behind the bench at Saratoga Springs High School, his only “recruiting” tool was the success of the Blue Streaks’ program. After three straight trips to the New York state tournament final four, the program sells itself.
And because of the new additions, the Streaks should be favored to capture their fourth straight Section II title this season.
Three of the new faces this year belong to goalie Dakota Smith, who played at Christian Brothers Academy last season, and the Flynn twins, Matt and Ryan. The Flynns, who are seniors at Saratoga Springs High School, have spent the last three years playing junior hockey for the now-defunct Capital Selects and last season with the Adirondack Jr. Wings, and Smith, also a senior, lives in Saratoga Springs, but opted to attend CBA.
“They really didn’t need much convincing,” said Torres. “They’re great friends with the guys on the team and they see what we’ve done here, and they wanted to be part of it.
“I’ve known the Flynns since they were 8 years old, and coach [Tim] Grande had them in youth hockey. They’re team leaders, and they’re going to fit right in.”
And they’ll help make up for the graduation lose of Alex Luse, the leading scorer in the area last season.
“They’ve always played on the same line together, and we’ll keep them on the same line here,” said Torres. “We just have some kinks to work out.”
Smith will help fill the gap left by the graduation of Ryan Bourgeois, but he’s not a lock for the No. 1 position, as Spencer Glaim returns for his senior year. Glaim only played in four games last year, but allowed just three goals, finishing with a 1.73 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
“Spencer was our most improved player last year,” said Torres. “Having two senior goalies is a good problem for a coach to have.”
Seniors Tyler Bullard (16-17-33), Nick Winters (17-20-37) and Devin Smith (9-16-25) are back, as is Brendon Wormley (5-10-15), who will anchor the defense in front of whoever plays goal.
“Wormley, Winters and Devin Smith are the captains, so we’ll have great senior leadership,” said Torres.
The Streaks open their season Wednesday at home against Guilderland/Mohonasen.
The Streaks’ biggest challenge will again come from Saratoga County rival Shenendehowa. The Plainsmen lost to Saratoga, 5-1, in the Section II championship game last year, and that loss hasn’t been forgotten.
“We’ve got the memory of sitting in the locker room after that 5-1 loss,” said Plainsmen coach Juan de la Rocha. “I’ve got a good group of young kids who got experience in big games last year, and suffered a heartbreaking loss in the final game on the biggest stage there is.”
Shenendehowa, which kicks off its season against Ithaca at 4 p.m. Saturday at Clifton Park Arena, only lost four seniors to graduation, and returns the bulk of its scoring, led by seniors Kevin Miles (12-21-33), Brad Tardif (19-10-29) and
6-foot-2, 235-pound defenseman Dave Hunter (9-7-16).
Also back is senior goalie Brian Walter, who had a 2.73 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage while playing in all but one of Shenendehowa’s games last year.
“I’m anxious to see how we do in adverse situations,” said de la Rocha, “That’s going to be the real test, to see what we do when we’re losing, 3-2, to a team that we should be beating. I want to see how we react.”
If there’s a sleeper in the Capital District High School Hockey League this season, it’s Shaker/Colonie. The Jets were 9-11-2 last season, but outscored their opponents, 82-80, with a run-and-gun offense. The top four scorers — Joey Chiara (19-20-39), Eric Egan (17-20-37), Mike Mineau (17-15-33) and Sean Lynch (9-14-23) — are back, but the defense has to tighten up in front of goalies Kodi Riddell and Zach Dignum.
Niskayuna/Schenectady and Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa both showed signs of improvement last season, and could take another step this year.
The Mohawks are anchored by senior goalie Peter Mrazik, who led the league in save percentage (.917) last season, and junior Devin Patrick, who led the team in goals with 13.
Spartans junior goalie Austin Clark (22 games, 3.06 GAA, .901 save percentage) was a first-team all-star selection last season, and senior Nick Van Liew was the team’s No. 2 scorer (13-16-29) behind Chase Godfrey.
Bethlehem had the best overall record (15-6) in the area last year, but the Eagles lost their two top scorers, John Gosstola and Sam Vincent, who combined for 37 goals and 65 points.
Blaine Drescher takes over at Christian Brothers Academy — the sixth coach in six years for the Brothers — and inherits a team that scored just 34 goals in 22 games last year.
Guilderland/Mohonasen faces a rebuilding season after losing its top six scorers to graduation.
Coach: Andre Rodrigue.
Last year’s record: 15-6.
Players to watch: Senior forward Joey Verstandig (6-12-18), junior forward Chris Caswell (11-6-17), junior forward Andrew Carroll (7-10-17), senior goalie Kevin Cooley (1.88 GAA, .915 save percentage).
Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa
Coach: Jim Buffoline.
Last year’s record: 8-12-2.
Players to watch: Junior goalie Austin Clark (3.06 GAA, .901 save percantage), senior forward Nick Van Liew (13-16-29), senior defenseman Clark Grabb (3-8-11), senior defenseman Nick Hart (3-13-16).
Christian Brothers AcademY
Coach: Blaine Drescher.
Last year’s record: 10-11-1.
Players to watch: Junior goalie Kyle Stockman (3.23 GAA), senior defenseman John Bassett (15-7-22), senior defenseman Zach Swanteck (6-4-16), junior forward Chris O’Keefe (8-4-14).
Coach: Mike DiFiore.
Last year’s record: 12-7-2.
Players to watch: Senior goalie Tyler Mello, sophomore defenseman Logan Akins (5-9-14), senior defenseman Matt Girard (3-14-17), senior defenseman Mike Bulmer.
Coach: Ed Koivula.
Last year’s record: 4-15-2.
Players to watch: Senior goalie Austin McCrum, senior forward Brock Gingell, sophomore defenseman John Dombrowski, junior forward Tyler Phillips.
Coach: Tim Flanigan.
Last year’s record: 6-16.
Players to watch: Senior forward Anthony DeMarte (8-12-20), senior defenseman Ben Gardiner (2-9-11), junior goalie Joseph Kenny.
Coach: Todd Templeton.
Last year’s record: 10-11.
Players to watch: Senior goalie Peter Mrazik (2.82 GAA, .917 save percentage), junior forward Devon Patrick (13-9-22), junior forward Matt DiVietro (10-8-18), junior forward Ben Fisher (5-7-12), senior defenseman Shayne Mensing.
Coach: Dean Williams.
Last year’s record: 10-12.
Players to watch: Freshman forward Joey Moore (11-11-22), senior forward Michael Pagels (12-11-23), senior forward Shane Kanaly (10-9-19), freshman goalie Teddy Nolan.
Coach: Dave Torres.
Last year’s record: 18-7.
Players to watch: Senior forward Nick Winters (17-20-37), senior forward Tyler Bullard (16-17-33), senior forward Devin Smith (9-16-25), senior defenseman Brendon Wormley (5-10-15), senior forward Matt Flynn, senior forward Ryan Flynn, senior goalie Spencer Glaim.
Coach: Steve Hudak.
Last year’s record: 9-11-2.
Players to watch: Senior forward Joey Chiara (10-20-39), senior forward Eric Egan (17-20-37), junior forward Mike Mineau (17-15-32), junior forward Sean Lynch (9-14-23), senior defenseman Derek Hildenbrand.
Coach: Juan de la Rocha.
Last year’s record: 13-10.
Players to watch: Senior forward Kevin Miles (12-21-33), senior forward Brad Tardif (19-10-29), junior forward Ryan Mortka (9-9-18), senior defensman Dave Hunter (9-7-16), senior goalie Brian Walter (2.72 GAA, .888 save percentage).
South Glens Falls/-Hudson Falls
Coach: Brian Bowe.
Last year’s record: 1-20.
Players to watch: Sophomore forward Brendan Murphy (9-4-13), senior goalie Noah Price.