Saratoga Springs hockey coach Dave Torres went with the hot hand Thursday night.
Senior goaltender Dakota Smith made it a wise choice, turning aside all 24 shots he saw as the reigning Section II champions beat Shenendehowa, 2-0, at Clifton Park Arena.
“They know that the hot goalie is going to play,” said Torres, who has used Smith and fellow senior Spencer Glaim in goal as the Blue Streaks have gotten off to a 4-0-0 start in the Capital District High School Hockey League and are 6-1-1 overall. “Spencer is still one of the top goaltenders in the league. He knows he’ll get his playing time.
“Dakota has been hot. That’s his second shutout in a row. You’ve got to go with the hot goaltender.
“It’s not only at the goaltending position. We call it a meritocracy. You play hard and get the job done, you’re gong to play. We’ve changed lines, three, four, five times so far this year. Kids are stepping up and playing hard and getting rewarded for it.”
No one stepped up Thursday more than Smith, as the CBA transfer got his first taste of this rivalry.
“Coming from CBA, Shenendehowa was the team to beat. Saratoga was the team to beat,” Smith said. “So when I transferred to Saratoga, I knew that Shen was the team I wanted to beat. Shutting them out on their home ice was a big thing.
“Coach pulled us outside the locker room yesterday and told us. He explained what was going on.
“Right now, its the goalie that’s hotter. Most likely, we’re going to keep switching back and forth, and we’ll each get equal play.”
Tyler Bullard got Smith the only goal he’d need when he took a breakout pass from defenseman Ian Frey along the left boards, held off a Shenendehowa defenseman and pushed a shot past Plainsmen goaltender Brian Walter 8:06 into the game.
“Tyler is a gamer. He wants to score,” said Torres. “I preach to these guys that its big to score the first goal. It’s always easier to be playing ahead. It was big to get that goal.”
Smith showed a quick glove and strong positioning to frustrate the Plainsmen. The few rebounds he left in front were cleared by his defensemen.
“I was just doing my job,” said Smith. “The defense regrouped, got back into position, and we kept playing.”
“We had chances,” said Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha, whose team was playing only its second league game. “I’m not upset with the effort. I think this was the best game we’ve played.
“We’ve had stretches of four or five minutes where we’ve lost focus, and it hurt us. That didn’t happen tonight. I know they’re disappointed because this is a big game for them, especially playing at home.
“But he [Smith] made some good saves on the chances when we did get in deep.”
“He’s going to make the saves he has to,” said Torres. “He made a couple of good saves, point-blank. He’s got a good glove. He gobbles everything up.”
Drew Patterson made it 2-0 when he found an open net after his linemates, brothers Ryan and Matt Flynn, both were turned away by Walter.
“Brian played well,” said de la Rocha. “I don’t think he could have done much on either goal.”
“Our kids were focused right from the beginning,” said Torres. “We didn’t really come in here overconfident. We knew they’d be physical with us. We know their strengths, they know our strengths. It’s always a good game. It’s a good league win.”
Christian Brothers Academy got goals from Sean Glennon, John Bassett and R.J. Matos on Wednesday in a 3-1 win over Glens Falls. Kyle Stockman made 21 saves for the victory.
The Indians got a goal from John Myers.
SARATOGA SPRINGS 2, SHENENDEHOWA 0
Saratoga Springs 1 1 0 — 2
Shenendehowa 0 0 0 — 0
First period — 1, Saratoga, Tyler Bullard (Ian Frey, Nick Winters), 8:06.
Second period — 2, Saratoga, Drew Patterson (Ryan Flynn, Matt Flynn), 6:21.
Third period — No scoring.
Goaltenders — Saratoga Springs, Dakota Smith, 24 saves. Shenendehowa, Brian Walter, 28 saves.
CBA 3, GLENS FALLS 1
CBA 3 0 0 — 3
Glens Falls 0 1 0 — 1
First Period — 1, CBA, Sean Glennon (Zach Swantech), :20. 2, CBA, John Bassett (Robby West), 1:27. 3, CBA, RJ Matos (Nick Makarowsky), 10:01.
Second Period — 4, Glens Falls, John Myers (Logan Akins), :37.
Third Period — No scoring.
Goalies — CBA, Kyle Stockman, 21 saves. Glens Falls, Tyler Mello, 0 saves; Sean Kuhn, 14 saves.