After suffering a devastating loss to Shenendehowa in last year’s section final, it was obvious the Saratoga Blue Streaks had redemption on their minds in this year’s contest. Led by a high-powered offense, the Blue Streaks were able to blow past Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa (a team which includes players from BH-BL and Ballston Spa) by a score of 8-3 on Thursday night at Union College’s Messa Rink, becoming the Section 2 Champions of the 2014-15 season.
“This moment is like no other,” said Saratoga Head Coach Dave Torres. “Last year’s game was bad, but we put that behind us and made a memory that will last a lifetime.”
The Blue Streaks started strong, with senior captain JT Rafferty scoring a goal just 6 seconds into the first period. A strong Saratoga defense made it hard for the Spartans to generate an offensive spark, until senior captain Brady Campbell slipped the puck past Blue Streak goalie Danny Hobbs, tying the score at 1. With 9:50 remaining in the first period, Saratoga senior forward Zach Guzi notched a goal off of a powerful wrist shot, making it 2-1 Blue Streaks. Just 2 minutes later, sophomore Jake Fauler dangled the puck around Spartan goalie Ben Koszelak, giving Saratoga a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.
“We had experience in this game on our side, and we came to play,” said Torres. “It showed.”
Both teams struggled to find the back of the net to start the second period, however big plays from hard-hitting Saratoga defenseman Austin Patterson helped the Streaks win the possession battle. With 5:32 left in the period, Saratoga junior captain Elliott Hungerford got his team on the board yet again, extending their lead to 4-1. Saratoga’s offensive run didn’t end there, as junior Josh Dagle got his name on the score sheet during a power play, bringing the Streaks up to a 5-1 lead. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake finally found an answer to the strong defense they were up against, with senior Aaron Thorpe scoring on Saratoga goaltender Danny Hobbs and cutting the lead to 3 goals.
“It was great to have the big lead going into the second period,” said Hobbs. “Our offense was outstanding and the defense really helped me out all night.”
Just as the second period was winding down, Hungerford earned his second goal of the night with 5.3 seconds left, extending the onslaught to 6-2.
“It was a fun night, being out here with my team was great, and the victory was even greater.” Hungerford said.
Midway through the third period, Hungerford capped off what was a magical night for him, recording his third goal of the game, giving Saratoga a 7-2 lead.
“It felt great, knowing I helped out in getting the win,” said Hungerford.
As the third period wound down, the Spartans found their final goal of their season from senior Brandon Gaudin, making the score 7-3. One minute later, Saratoga closed the game with one last goal, coming from Dagle, which finalized the score at 8-3. As the final horn blew, the Blue Streaks bench stormed the ice, as Saratoga became the Section II Champions once again, for the 5th time in 6 years.
“Since I joined this team, I had dreamed of this moment,” Hobbs said, experiencing the championship for the first time, “and it’s just as sweet as I thought it would be.”
“The Section 2 title is back in Saratoga, where it belongs,” said Torres, a two-time section and one time state champion.
The Saratoga Blue Streaks will face Monroe-Woodbury on Saturday, March 7th in Newburgh at the regional championship, where a win would send them to the New York State tournament for the second time in three years.
Matt Seehusen is a junior and journalism student covering sports for The Lightning Rod. Eli Fisher contributed reporting for this story.
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