POTSDAM - Defending the Section 10 title didnt come easy for the Potsdam Central girls hockey team on Saturday.
We knew this was going to be a tough game. We talked about wanting to shut down their better players and I thought we did a good job with that. We just played, good solid hockey all around, said coach Joe Stark after the Lady Sandstoners skated to a 5-2 decision over Canton Central in the sectional final at Pine Street Arena.
The Lady Sandstoners will now set their sights on defending their High School Girls Hockey League playoff championship this weekend weekend.
This years final four is slated for the Canton Pavilion starting Friday night when Potsdam goes up against Section 3 champion Alexandria starting at 6 p.m. Section 7s Beekmantown meets Section 6 champion (Kenmore or Williamsville) at 8 p.m. The championship game is slated for Saturday at noon.
We have quite a few players back from last year so they have an appreciation of what it takes to get to this point. The girls knew they needed to win this game to have a chance at defending their championship. They worked hard and now they have their chance, Stark noted.
In their win over Canton in the sectional final, the Lady Sandstoners worked their way to a 4-0 lead early in the third period then sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the closing seconds after the Lady Bears had battled back with a pair of goals.
I thought the game was closer than the score showed, said Canton coach Anita Francis. We had some good chances earlier but their goalie came up with the save or we didnt get a good bounce of the puck.
Potsdam came out strong. When we had the puck in their zone, they didnt seem to have any trouble getting it out and when they had it in our zone, they did a good job of controlling it and pressuring us, Francis added.
The Lady Sandstoners opened the scoring when senior Megan Stevenson ended a goalmouth scramble by knocking home a loose puck with 5:17 left in the first period. Junior Ally Miller and freshman Kalie Grant drew assists on the play.
Sophomore Kirstin Barkley made it 2-0 in similar fashion 10:44 into the second period when she converted from close range on the rebound of shot by junior Jenny Tardelli. Eighth-grader Jayden Young then fashioned the eventual game-winner just over two minutes later, taking a lead pass from Tardelli then darting down the left wing and wristing a shot into the top of the net from the face-off circle with 2:00 left in the middle frame.
Our first two goals were hard-working goals and I thought that set the tone for us, said coach Stark.
Junior Megan Plumb stretched the Potsdam lead to 4-0 just 3:22 into the third period after controlling the puck along the boards behind the Canton goal then managing to tuck it just inside the left post. Senior Kady Hart drew the lone assist.
The Lady Bears got on the board just over two minutes later when Margret Troiano pumped a rising shot into the top right of the net from the right face-off circle after taking a lead pass from Taylor Marcellus. Canton cut the deficit to 4-2 with 59 seconds left when Blake Orosz converted on a rebound for a power play goal with Marcellus again drawing the assist. The Lady Bears then pulled netminder Elizabeth Burke to gain the extra skater but Plumb sealed the win when she intercepted a pass near the Canton blueline and sent the puck into the empty net with nine seconds remaining.
Sophomore Allie Compeau turned aside 16 shots working the crease for the win while Burke, an eighth-grader, finished with 27 saves in the losing cause.
Were a young team and we came a long way this season, noted coach Francis as the Lady Bears entered Saturdays sectional final riding the momentum of a six-game win streak and finished with a record of 9-9 with a lineup that featured seven eighth-graders and a seventh-grader.
Well have a lot players back next year and hopefully theyre going to keep improving and getting stronger the way they did this year, she concluded.