For its work during the holiday break, the Skaneateles ice hockey team went to the eastern part of the state the Grandstanders Tournament at the Glens Falls Recreation Center - and returned home with a very satisfying first-place finish.
In Wednesday's opening round, the Lakers, no. 4 in the state Division II rankings, faced no. 2-ranked Queensbury, from Section II, and did just enough to put together a 2-1 victory over the Spartans.
All the required offense came in the first period, where Mike Benson and Tom Jones scored for Skaneateles. Jake Cooney, Scott Longtin and Mitchell Jones each got credit for assists.
The Lakers would spend the rest of the game hanging on. Queensbury did not get on the board until the third period, and Trevor Diamond kept them from catching up, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced.
With this huge win behind them, the Lakers moved on to face Glens Falls, the tournament hosts, on Thursday afternoon in the championship game.
Again, it proved close - and again, the Lakers won, this time using a stirring late rally, plus more outstanding work in goal from Diamond, to beat the Indians 3-2.
Glens Falls attacked hard from the opening face-off, yet got nothing for it in the first period as Diamond kept kicking away chances. Meanwhile, the Lakers moved ahead 1-0 as, with just 1:20 left in the period, Longtin scored off a pass from Matt Clymer.
The relentless Indian pressure did lead to a second-period breakthrough, as Glens Falls scored twice, Matt Girard and Paul Bennett getting the goals as the hosts moved ahead 2-1.
From there, though, Diamond again shut things down, not stopping until he had picked up 38 saves, his most in any single game this season. It also gave Skaneateles time to rally.
Sure enough, with 12:31 to play the Lakers tied it, 2-2, as Brendan Major earned a power-play goal. From there, the sides careened toward overtime until, with 1:38 left, Dan Tarolli flashed open and, taking a pass from Jon Rogalia, put home the game-winner. Jones and Jim Rodgers also earned assists.
Skaneateles improved to 5-1 with those wins, and would be in action Tuesday at Clinton before returning home next Friday to face two-time reigning state Division II champion New Hartford.