Friday, February 5, 2016

High School Fridays: Saratoga @ LaSalle (hockey), 2/5/16

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."---Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.

The above quotation, in a nutshell, would describe the fortunes of Saratoga High and LaSalle Institute as the two teams faced off in hockey this evening at Robert Conway Arena on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College. Which is which? Read on.

Last year, the Blue Streaks suffered a heartbreaking, agonizing loss to LaSalle that prompted one Saratoga player to swear up a---wait for it---blue streak after the game as he walked down the tunnel to his locker room. This season, Saratoga leads the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSLL). LaSalle, with just 4 wins entering play tonight, is near the bottom of the standings. Could lightning strike twice in the same place?

Saratoga had struggled two nights ago, breaking through in the 3rd period to beat arch-rival Shenendehowa, 2-0. Meanwhile, LaSalle suffered another heartbreaking loss, this one on the road to Bethlehem, 7-5. I shan't go any further, but rather try to find some positives in this game.

The first period played like the first two of the Shen-Saratoga game on Wednesday night. A scoreless, defensive battle. LaSalle's Zach Rentz was stout in goal, registering 17 saves in the first period alone. But while the Cadets' defense kept Saratoga off the board, the offense couldn't get close enough to netminder Tom Fornabia. A shot on goal for LaSalle in the first period was as rare as a day without a quote from Donald Trump.

That all changed in the second period. Saratoga's Jonathan Luse broke the ice (pun intended) with a power play goal to put the Blue Streaks up, 1-0. Mere minutes later, Ben Leinweber evened the score with a 1-timer past Fornabia. However, LaSalle couldn't sustain the momentum, and Saratoga continued to crowd the net around Rentz to the point where Rentz could've complained of claustrophobia if at all possible. Josh Dagle put Saratoga up for good, and Elliott Hungerford add two more goals, including a power play goal, to give the Streaks a 4-1 lead after two periods.

Mere seconds into the third, Kevin Mainello backhanded a pass from Tom Ryan past Fornabia to get LaSalle within two goals at 4-2, but Luse put the game away two minutes later with his second tally of the night. LaSalle could get no closer, and the Blue Streaks kept their league record perfect with a 5-2 verdict.

So what did LaSalle in? Defensive breakdowns, costly, ill-timed penalties, and special teams being out of sync. It's been a season-long malady for which coach Tim Flanigan has yet to find a cure. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control are kind of busy with mosquitoes and flu viruses these days. The Cadets have three games left, including a play-in game just to qualify for the sectionals.
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Turning to basketball, it was a big night for Troy High. The girls team welcomed back Shallie Frierson after she'd missed the last three games, all losses, and she tallied 17 points as the Lady Flying Horses snapped the losing streak by burying Schenectady, 53-23. The boys, meanwhile, clinched the Suburban Council's Grey division title by similarly blowing out Schenectady, 63-34. Daniel Buie was "held", if you will, to 14 points, but was one of four Troy players in double figures, as the Flying Horses ran their current winning streak to three in a row. Second place Christian Brothers Academy comes to Clem Zotto Gym on Senior Night on Tuesday.

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