Lady Laker 14-and-under hockey heads to state tournament
By Tyler Brown
They saved their very best for the most important hockey tournament of their lives. The Skaneateles Girls' U14 hockey team traveled to Clinton this past weekend and came away Champions of New York State's Central Section.
In their first game, the Lakers played an ever-improving Camillus team and posted a solid first round 4-1 victory. The score was 0-0 after the first period and only 1-0 in favor of Skaneateles after two periods of play. The Lakers surged in the third period, scoring three times to just one notch for Camillus. Kalie Pidgeon scored twice and assisted on another goal to lead the Laker scoring. Alyssa Stevens and Gabe Caruso had one goal apiece, while Brigid Corcoran, Taylor Kerr and Maggie Stanton assisted.
In game two against the Rome Grizzlies the Lakers brought their 'A' game. Rome, unquestionably one of the strongest teams in the state, scored first, but the stubborn Laker defense held and period one ended with the score just 1-0. Two unanswered goals by Keely O'Hara (unassisted) and Alyssa Stevens (assisted by Michelle Bronk and Maddie DuBeau) in the second period stunned the Grizzlies and gave the Lakers a 2-1 advantage going into the final period.
The last 15 minutes of play were wildly exciting, as the Laker defense stood tall against Rome's frantic assault. Just one goal made it by Skaneateles goalie, Alex Brown. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Brown played a brilliant game in net, stopping 37 of 39 shots for a 95 percent save average, punctuated by a kick save two inches inside the post with 30 seconds left on the clock -- called the "save of the season" by one parent in the stands.
Next came the final and deciding game against an excellent Ithaca team that had split four games during the season with the Lakers. The Lakers scored first on another Kalie Pidgeon goal assisted by defenseman Maddy Elia. Ithaca answered and the first period ended in a 1-1 tie. Early in the second period Skaneateles again went ahead, this time on a Kaleen Allyn goal assisted by Kalie Pidgeon. Ithaca answered, tying the game 2-2 but a Michelle Bronk goal moved the Laker team up by one. Alyssa Stevens and Keely O'Hara assisted on the Bronk go-ahead goal.
Bronk scored once more in the final period (assisted again by Keely O'Hara) and with that the Lakers found themselves sectional champions, headed for the state tournament in Lake George on March 9 through 11.
In addition to those 11 players with goals and assists (topped by Kalie Pidgeon's five points) Tori Gregory played with her usual unmatched competitiveness, while Nina Elia, Carrie Hinchman and Sam Bentley contributed significantly to the Laker championship.
The photograph: Thanks Coach Stevens: U-14 lady Laker's coach Marty Stevens takes some time to savor the win before getting ready for the state tourney.