February 28, 2012

Red Storm defend hockey title

Saranac Lake tops Plattsburgh High to repeat as Section VII boys' hockey champion


PLATTSBURGH — On a night when Devin Darrah was honored as league MVP, he certainly showed why.

Darrah netted a pair of goals and assisted on another as Saranac Lake defeated Plattsburgh, 4-1, to repeat as Section VII boys' hockey champions.

The Red Storm (14-7-1) will now take on Section II champion Queensbury, a 4-1 winner over Glens Falls, in Saturday's regional final.

Saranac Lake fell to the Spartans 10-2 a season ago.

The sectional title game started with a flurry of goals in a 19-second span.

The third-seeded Red Storm captured a 1-0 lead on Matt Phelan's goal at the 2:37 mark of the first period.

That lead would last just 10 seconds, however, as the Hornets' Jack Tolosky scored at the 2:47 mark.

Darrah, though, would score what proved to be the game-winning goal just nine seconds later.

"This game certainly counted the most," Saranac Lake coach Will Ellsworth said. "The kids had butterflies at the beginning of the game because there was just so much on the line.

"It was a money game; everything was on the line. The kids definitely reacted."

Plattsburgh held a 10-8 shot advantage in the second period but were not able to sneak one past Red Storm netminder Blake Darrah.

Quinn Urquhart then gave Saranac Lake a 3-1 lead at the 8:37 mark. Jacob Garrett assisted on the goal, his second of the game.

"When you get up 3-1 that's a lead you think you can protect," Ellsworth said. "A 2-1 lead, as a coach, can make you nervous. Getting it to 3-1 let us play a little more defense."

Darrah, who was harassing the Hornet defense all game long, scored his second goal of the game at the 4:25 mark of the third period to put the game away. Kyle Dora and David Cluckey assisted on the goal.

"We played another smart game," Ellsworth said. "We had goals at the start to play with emotion, score the all-important first goal and play disciplined hockey.

"We had a lot of senior leadership this season. Darrah and Dora logged a ton of ice time and they really set the tone along with Matt Phelan."

Fifth-seeded Plattsburgh had a remarkable run during the sectional tournament. The Hornets defeated Northeastern Clinton and top-seeded Beekmantown to move into Monday's title game.

"We got behind and I thought we were gripping our sticks too tight," Plattsburgh coach Jamie Reidy said. "We gave them a couple of early goals and it came back to haunt us.

"They're a dangerous opponent. They've got the premier player in our league and they are a good hockey team."

Blake Darrah captured the victory in net for Saranac Lake with 22 saves.

Robbie Knowles turned away 28 shots for the Hornets in a losing effort.

"Kudos to Saranac lake who I think will represent our section very well," Reidy said. "Very classy group of kids led by two great coaches.

"I couldn't be prouder of a group of 17 young men who not only grew on the ice but I think we grew up off the ice as well. I'm looking forward to the next season already. I'm sad to see our seniors go, but I think we represented our school well."

Saranac Lake 4, Plattsburgh 1

Plattsburgh     1     0     0     —     1

Saranac Lake     2     1     1     —     4

First period- 1, SL, Phelan (D. Darrah), 2:37. 2, PHS, Tolosky (Matott, Bechard), 2:47. 3, SL, D. Darrah (Garrett), 2:56.

Second period- 4, SL, Urquhart (Garrett), 8:37.

Third period- 5, SL, D. Darrah (Dora, Cluckey), 4:25.

Shots: Saranac Lake 32, Plattsburgh 23.

Saves: B. Darrah, SL, 22. Knowles, PHS, 28.