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Potsdam nips Canton for hockey title

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CANTON - One of just three seniors on the Potsdam Central girls hockey team, Ally Miller was not a huge offensive threat during this year’s regular season.

However, the sectional playoffs have been a different story altogether.

The Lady Sandstoner forward scored a key goal to help her team beat Massena 3-0 in the sectional final on Wednesday and then tallied two goals, including a short-handed effort and the gamewinner on Saturday night as Potsdam edged Canton 4-3 to claim the Section 10 girls hockey championship at the Canton Pavilion.

Potsdam (12-4-3) now advances to a Final Four tournament, which will be actually be a State Regional as far as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is concerned. The event will be held at the Clayton Civic Center this coming Friday and Saturday (Feb. 7-8). Along with the Section 10 champions, the field will include champions from Section 3 (Syracuse-area), Section 7 (Plattsburgh-area) and Section 6 (Buffalo-area).

On Saturday night, after Potsdam’s Megan Plumb had tied the score at 2-2 on a nifty wrap-around at the 12:10 mark of the second period, Miller scored shorthanded just 22 seconds later to give the Lady Sandstoners the lead for good. Then Miller made it 4-2 just 24 seconds into the third period, with sophomore Kalie Grant assisting on both goals.

“We were down 2-1 for a long time and then the two goals 22 seconds apart put them down a little,” said Miller whose third-seeded Sandstoners had lost 4-1 to top-seed Canton and the two teams also had skated to a 0-0 deadlock during the regular season. “We changed up our forecheck, tried to keep them from breaking out in the middle and shut down their strong players.”

Canton (13-5-1) led 2-1 after one period on goals by League MVP Margret Troiano (Morristown merger student) and Blake Orosz (Madrid-Waddington), sandwiched around a Grant tally for Potsdam. The Lady Bears exerted great pressure throughout the contest, but would only solve Potsdam’s freshman goalie, Sidney Molnar (18 saves), once more the rest of the night as Troiano tallied an unassisted marker at 2:45 of the third period.

“The first period we were scrambling all over and we told the girls to calm down and play like we had prepared. Then we played a real solid second period and banged home a couple nice goals,” said Potsdam coach Joe Stark who will lead his team to post-sectional play for the fourth straight season. “Canton has talented players up front and they put a lot of pressure on you. It was a good high school girls hockey game which could have gone either way, for sure.”

Seniors Miller, Plumb and Jenny Tardelli all came up big according to Stark.

“They’ll all be playing in their fourth straight in Clayton. Ally has stepped it up in the playoffs with the big goal in Massena and the shorthanded goal tonight was key,” said the Potsdam coach. “We came from the third seed to win this with two wins on the road which was great.”

Canton coach Anita Francis saw her team denied on several scoring opportunities. “From the bench it looked like they were going in, but they just didn’t,” said Francis “Our girls played hard and gave it a lot of heart.”

Freshman Elizabeth Burke made 20 saves in goal for the Lady Bears.

ICING ON THE CAKE - Potsdam will play the Buffalo-area champion on Friday night at 8 p.m. at Clayton in the Regional semifinals....In addition to Troiano earning League MVP honors, she was named First Team All Northern along with Canton’s Orosz and Natalie Giglio; Potsdam’s Grant and Molnar and Massena’s Katherine MacCuaig....Second Team All Northerns included Massena’s Madalynn Dillabough, Madeleine Mailhot and Abbie Paquin; Potsdam’s Miller and St. Lawrence Central’s Katie Lamica....Massena’s Jennifer Gray was named Section 10 Coach of the Year.

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