SARANAC LAKE - After getting off to a strong start with a 7-1 record, the time could have been right for the Lake Placid boys hockey team to end a long losing skid against Saranac Lake when the rivals clashed for the first time this season on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Although the Blue Bombers held an overwhelming advantage in shots on goal, they struggled to find the back of the net, and they also couldn't contain Saranac Lake's senior captain Devin Darrah.
Darrah led his forces to a 5-3 victory in a showdown with rival Lake Placid in front of a packed house at the Saranac Lake Civic Center. Darrah scored two goals and assisted on two others in a game that saw the Blue Bombers hold a nearly 2-1 edge in shots on goal.
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Lake Placid’s R.J. Reid skates the puck up the ice during the Blue Bombers’ game against Saranac Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Despite outshooting their rivals 13-3 in the third period, the Blue Bombers had to settle for a 5-3 loss.
Lake Placid took the early lead when Eddie Kane buried a puck just 3:35 into the game. Saranac Lake responded with the next four goals and then survived a furious rally attempt by the Blue Bombers, who outshot their hosts 13-3 in the final period.
Darrah found openings behind the Lake Placid defense on both of his goals in the second period, and buried what proved to be the game-winning shot at the 8:27 mark, which gave the Red Storm a 4-1 lead at the time. The Blue Bombers scored late in the second stanza to cut their deficit to a pair of goals. Each team added one more goal in the final period to make it a 5-3 final.
"We just didn't play aggressive and smart enough in the first and second period," said Lake Placid head coach Keith Clark. "I really liked our third period, but by then it was too little, too late.
"We let Saranac Lake's first group with Darrah have too much room and too much time," Clark added. "This was a disappointing loss. We are all disappointed."
With the win, the Red Storm snapped a two-game losing slide which saw them allow 14 goals. They improved to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference. With the win, Saranac Lake also continued its mastery over Lake Placid, as the seniors on the Red Storm have never tasted defeat at the hands of their rivals.
The loss was just the second of the season for Lake Placid, which dropped to 7-2.
"In this game, we played three strong periods, and that's something we really haven't done lately," Darrah said. "Our gameplan was centered on playing solid defense and scoring when we got our chances. On our team, we've been talking about a no-quit attitude, and we were rewarded for that tonight."
Kane led Lake Placid with a goal and two assists, with Dillon Savage and Nzoni Thompson each adding a goal for the Blue Bombers. Grant Strack, Matt Phelan and Shawn Wilcox each notched single tallies for Saranac Lake.
The two teams battled evenly in the opening period, with Lake Placid jumping in front when Kane scored from in close with assists going to Troy Jacques and Dustin Jacques. Strack, the second leading scorer for Saranac Lake, buried the equalizer at the 11:03 mark of the first period to send the teams into intermission in a 1-1 deadlock.
The Red Storm then erupted for three unanswered goals in the second period. Darrah put Saranac Lake up 2-1 when he fired a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle past Lake Placid goalie Jeff Smith at the 4:40 mark. Phelan followed with a goal from in close less than two minutes later for a 3-1 Red Storm edge.
Darrah then gave his team a three-goal cushion on another wrister, scoring at the 8:27 mark of the second on a high shot from the right faceoff circle.
Savage netted Lake Placid's second goal, scoring on the power-play when he banged in a rebound from in close past Saranac Lake goalie Blake Darrah with 1:37 remaining in the second period.
Trailing 4-2, the Blue Bombers turned up the heat in the final period but only converted on one of their multiple scoring chances down the stretch. Saranac Lake put just three shots on net in the third, but the first one counted as diving Wilcox slid a puck into the net for a 5-2 hosts lead 2:31 into the period.
Thompson netted the final goal of the game, scoring for Lake Placid on a shot through traffic at the 3:29 mark.
Lake Placid held a 33-19 edge in shots on goal over Saranac Lake. Blake Darrah, a sophomore, was solid in goal, making 30 saves to earn the win for the Red Storm. Smith recorded 14 stops between the pipes for the Blue Bombers.
Dustin Jacques finished with two assists for Lake Placid.
"We've really struggled in our end of the rink, and yesterday in practice we talked about defense wins hockey games," said Red Storm head coach Will Ellsworth. "We really concentrated on our defensive effort, and if we did that, we knew our offense would take care of itself. Our guys were gritty in our defensive zone tonight."
Ellsworth said Blake Darrah had an outstanding performance in goal and also credited Spicer, a sophomore, for a strong effort on both ends of the ice. Devin Darrah, however, was singled out as the player of the game by the Red Storm coach.
"Devin dominated the ice tonight," Ellsworth said. "Especially with Kyle out of the lineup, Devin has taken over as the leader on this team. He's a competitor. He doesn't like to lose. I think that was pretty obvious tonight."
After playing five straight games on home ice, Saranac Lake now begins a four-game road stretch starting with a non-league matchup against Saint Lawrence Central Monday with the opening faceoff slated for 1 p.m.
Lake Placid will next be at home for back-to-back non-league matchups against Section II squads on the Olympic Center's 1932 ice sheet. The Blue Bombers host Cortland-Homer Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m. and then take on Whitesboro Sunday with the opening faceoff slated for noon.
Saranac Lake 5, Lake Placid 3
1. LP, Kane (T. Jacques, D. Jacques), 3:35; 2. SL, Strack (Garrett), 11:03.
3. SL, D. Darrah (Huyck), 4:40; 4. SL, Phelan (D. Darrah, Spicer), 6:11; 5. SL, D. Darrah (Wilcox), 8:27; 6. LP. Savage (Kane, D. Jacques), 13:23, pp.
7. SL, Wilcox (D. Darrah, Garrett), 2:31; 8. LP, N. Thompson (Kane), 3:29.
Shots on goal: Lake Placid 33, Saranac Lake 19.
Saves: LP, Smith 14; SL, B. Darrah 30.