POTSDAM - After rising from the third seed to defend its Section 10 crown, the Potsdam Central girls hockey heads to Clayton this weekend looking to reclaim a state tournament title.
Quite a few of our players are going to the tournament for the fourth year in a row. They were on the team that won two years ago in Plattsburgh and they played in the championship game against Beekmantown last year in Canton, so its nothing new for them, said coach Joe Stark as the Lady Sandstoners look to relay the momentum of a pair of impressive sectional playoff road wins into a second title in three years.
We had a tough stretch at the end of the regular season where we played a lot of games in a short time frame and we were dragging a little bit, noted Stark. We had a couple of days off to get ready before the playoffs. We came up with a strategy for Massena in our first game then we came up with a strategy for Canton.
The girls stuck to the plan and worked really hard in both games, he added.
The Lady Sandstoners head into their semi-final round game with a 12-4-3 record. They are slated to play at 8 p.m. against the winner of the Section 6 title game between defending tournament champion Kenmore and Lancaster/Iroquois that was scheduled for Wednesday night in Amherst.
The majority of the core members of this years Potsdam squad played key roles on the teams march to the 2011-12 tournament title at SUNY Plattsburgh but the lineup still only features a trio of seniors in forwards Ally Miller (11 goals, 17 assists-28 points) and Jenny Tardelli (8-7-15) while defenseman Meg Plumb, one of a handful of Norwood-Norfolk Central student-athletes on the team, has also made lead offensive contributions with 18 points on 10 goals and eight assists.
Sophomore forward Kalie Grant, who has played a regular shift for the Lady Sandstoners since she was a seventh-grader, leads a balanced offense with 33 points on 16 goals and 17 assists. Junior lineman Kirstin Barkley has tallied another 21 points on 12 goals and nine assists.Other key contributors at forward include freshman Jayden Young (6-12-18) and sophomore Paige McCabe (7-6-13).
Other leading members of the Potsdam blueline corps include junior Kelsey Green (7-9-16) along with the eighth-grade duo of Hannah Dreschel and Ali McFadden.
This was a transition year for us on defense. At the beginning of the season, we tried a lot of different combinations and had a lot of different players play shifts on defense until we were able to settle on the group that we have and theyve done a real nice job back there, Stark noted.
The Lady Sandstoners have also featured a solid goaltending tandem in junior Allie Compeau and freshman Sidney Molnar. The two split the playing time in the majority of the regular season games where Compeau posted a 1.70 goals against average and 91.0 save percentage through eight games and Molnar recorded a .910 goals against average and 94.0 save percentage in 11 games, including the two sectional tournament wins over Massena and Canton.
Weve been fortunate in that we have two quality goaltenders who give us a chance to win on any given night, said Stark.
Other players aiding the Potsdam effort this winter include sophomore Kelsie Rathbun along with freshmen Payton Warden, Emily Thomas and Joclyn Ward while Nick Leuthauser serves as assistant coach.
The other semi-final at the Clayton Arena on Friday pits Section 3 champion Skaneateles against defending tournament and perennial Section 7 champion Beekmantown starting at 6 p.m. Skaneateles edged Beekmantown 3-2 at a tournament hosted by Albany Academy during the Holiday Break. Skaneateles (13-3-2) beat Oswego 3-0 in the Section 3 final while Beekmantown outscored Lake Placid 5-2 in the Section 7 title game.
While the high school girls hockey playoff tournament has been going on for nearly a decade, this year marks only the second year that four sectional champions will be on hand to play for the championship. This weekends final four will actually be a State Regional as far as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is concerned.