Girls hockey Lakers advance to state Frozen Four

It was already a special season for the Skaneateles girls ice hockey team in that it would, for the first time, host the state championship tournament, popularly known as the "Frozen Four".

Now it's even more special -- because the Lakers will get to play in it.

And Skaneateles earned that spot in every possible manner, taking a long road trip to the northern reaches of the state on Saturday afternoon and working hard for a 2-1 victory over the Potsdam Sandstoners in the state quarterfinals at Pine Street Arena.

Just a week earlier, it was unclear whether head coach Jerry Morrissey's Lakers would make the playoffs. But Skaneateles won two of its last three games and, by doing so, moved up to fifth place in the Upstate New York Girls High School Hockey League standings with 22 points.

This still meant a playoff road trip to Potsdam -- but the Lakers went there full of confidence and motivated to return home for at least one more game this winter.

Perhaps sensing the importance of this game, Skaneateles and Potsdam played through a 0-0 first period with few offensive opportunities.

But the Lakers came out roaring in the second period and, just 1:12 into the frame, grabbed a 1-0 lead. Skaneateles forced the puck near Potsdam's net, where a crowd gathered. Amid the sticks, Michelle Bronk shot and missed, but fellow junior Maddy Elia's ebound shot slid past Sandstoners goaltender Abbie Tardelli into the net.

So it remained for most of the period. Potsdam kept getting chances, some of them in flurries of three or four shots -- but Alex Brown turned them all away, as she would get 27 saves on the afternoon.

Skaneateles then made it 2-0 when, with 1:11 left in the second period, a trademark fast break saw defender Tori Major streak down the ice and, finding just the right spot, zinged a shot past Tardelli for what proved to be the game-winner.

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