CANTON - A breakthrough win for Beekmantown denied a title defense for Potsdam Central in the championship game of the New York State Girls Hockey Final Four on Sunday at the Canton Pavilion.
We had a lot of battles and theyve all been tough games. This was the third time weve faced each other in the championship game. We won the first two but they were the better team today, said coach Joe Stark after the Lady Sandstoners dropped a 3-0 decision to the Lady Eagles in a rematch of last years state tournament final.
Beekmantown struck for the all-important first goal of the game midway through the first period then took control of the game midway through the second where they generated the other two goals of the game during a 24-second span. From there, the Lady Eagles, who built their first-period lead despite being outshot 11-10, kept Potsdam from getting another attempt on goal and finished with a 33-13 edge in shots en route to claiming their first state title.
We always say that playing good defense is always the best offense. We got the first goal then we were able to shut down a very good Potsdam offense, said coach Ray Guay after his squad finally relayed outstanding regular season success through the first five years of the program into the state crown. We graduated seven seniors from last years team so we had a lot of shoes to fill coming into this season.
We got great leadership from our four seniors and all the girls worked very hard to get to here. For them to get this close to the prize and to be able to finally bag it, it was well worth the wait, Guay added.
The only goal the Lady Eagles would need came at the 7:54 mark of the first period when senior Alexis Guay one-timed a pass from the left corner by classmate Amanda Peterson into the back of the net. Senior Emily Raville also helped set up the eventual game-winner.
After a close checking start to the second period where the teams each managed a pair of shots through the first seven minutes, the Lady Eagles used a quick change of fortune to break the game open. Freshman forward Katie Matott controlled a loose puck behind the Potsdam defense near center ice and skated in alone against sophomore netminder Allie Compeau, who stood her crease and smothered a hard wristshot to deny the breakaway attempt. On the ensuing face-off from the right dot, Guay promptly slid the puck to the top of the slot where Raville one-timed it into the top right of the goal with 8:29 left in the middle frame.
Shortly after the face-off at centerice, the Lady Sandstoners had the puck deep in the Beekmantown zone. A pass back to the blueline was intercepted by Matott and she made no mistake on her second breakaway attempt of the shift, this time wristing the puck into the top right corner for the final goal of the game just 24 seconds later.
Compeau finished with 30 saves as the Lady Sandstoners closed out the season at 19-3 overall. Sophomore Kayleigh Bell, who only tallied two saves in the second period and wasnt credited with a stop in the third, handled the 13 shots she faced to record the shutout as Beekmantown went 21-1-1 on the season.
We gave up the goal but I thought we played a pretty sound first period. We started to make some bad decisions with the puck and some penalties slowed us down, said Stark, who guided the Lady Sandstoners to their fourth final four in six years this winter.
You have to give Beekmantown the credit. They didnt give us a lot of opportunities. Whenever we got the puck in the offensive zone, we werent able to get any sustained pressure. We struggled today and the way Beekmantown played had a lot to do with that, he added. They deserved to win today. We had a great season. Thats just how it goes.
Nick Leuthauser served as assistant coach on the bench this winter while four seniors closed out their high school careers with a second straight state championship game appearance - blueliners Kady Hart and Sierra Gagnon along with forwards Meg Stevenson and Emily LaRoe.