Ayden McCormick lifts SLP boys hockey past Hornets

SLP’s Ayden McCormick rifles a shot on net during a game against Plattsburgh at the Saranac Lake Civic Center on Jan. 31. (News photo — Parker O’Brien)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake Placid boys hockey co-head coach Josh Spanburgh said the hockey game against the Plattsburgh Hornets on Jan. 31 had been marked on the team’s calendar for a long time.

The game was not only the first high school game at the Saranac Lake Civic Center since its $7 million renovation, but the game was also played in honor of Casey McHugh, a 2008 Saranac Lake High School graduate who tragically passed away in 2010.

For those in attendance, the game was special. When SLP’s eighth-grade defenseman Ayden McCormick netted the game-winning goal at 2 minutes, 7 seconds into overtime to seal the 4-3 over the Hornets, it became memorable.

“We were very connected to Casey McHugh through coaching and just our hockey family,” Spanburgh said referring to Casey McHugh’s brothers — Ryan, an assistant with the team this season, and Brennan, who was the head coach last year.

“To add on it was a league win. I’m proud of the boys. I’m very proud of how they played. They worked very hard,” he said.

SLP’s Drew Ferebee makes a play on the puck during a game against Plattsburgh on Jan. 31 at the Saranac Lake Civic Center. (News photo — Parker O’Brien)

McCormick’s goal came on a pass from senior Kaden Darrah. The eighth-grader then scored on the blocker side of Plattsburgh’s goalkeeper Owen Chapple to seal the team’s third win of the season, improving to 3-6.

“I’m very excited about Ayden McCormick scoring that goal at the end,” Spanburgh said. “I think it was a team effort and I think as a team we did the best we could. I think when our team does what we want them to do and we play three periods of hockey the way we want to play that’s when we’ve seen our success this year. We really want to take this and run with it because we’ve really got a lot of games coming up.”

Ten different SLP players recorded a point, with McCormick, Evan Willett, Noah Munn and Brady Tremblay scoring one goal each. Darrah, Ryan Bartholomew, Kellan Duffy, Jon Kratts, Carson St. Louis and Braydon Harvey each recorded one assist.

Spanburgh credited SLP’s goaltender Brayden Munn for his play on Tuesday. Munn had 33 saves in the win. The Hornets’ Chapple, an eighth-grader, had 31 saves.

Both teams buried one goal in the opening period and two goals each in the second before they were held scoreless in the third.

“Plattsburgh played very well. They kept coming back,” Spanburgh said. “I give them a lot of credit. I’m just happy we stuck to our plan, we did our very best and we came out on top.”

SLP jumped out an early lead when Willett scored at 2:20 in the first period on a cross-ice pass from Bartholomew. Late in the first period, Plattsburgh tied the game at 1-1 when Graham Kramer scored from the slot.

In the second period, SLP garnered together a string of momentum, scoring back-to-back goals from Noah Munn and Tremblay. The two goals were scored a little under seven minutes into the middle period and came within 50 seconds of each other.

“That’s our go-to. That’s our mojo,” Spanburgh said. “We need to get out there and we need to keep attacking when the pucks get to us. Noah Munn made a great play to score that second goal. Brady Tremblay at the right place at the right time to put that third goal in. For us, those are the types of goals we know we’re going to score. What we need to do as well is to continue to finish.”

SLP’s momentum, however, was diminished as the team received back-to-back penalties giving Plattsburgh a 5-on-3 powerplay. With the two-man advantage, the Hornets capitalized when Evan Kay collected a rebound and made a move past Brayden Munn to make the score 3-2.

With about one minute left in the second period, Plattsburgh’s Lucas Dashnaw dumped the puck high in the air toward the SLP net. The puck then hit off the top of the net and bounced perfectly to Dylan Pachter for the game-tying goal.

The Hornets had a few chances of their own to win the contest, outshooting SLP 36-35, but couldn’t bury the puck past Brayden Munn.

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