LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid hockey team poured it on in the first period and then finished strong to claim a 5-1 victory over Saranac Central in Section VII quarterfinal playoff action Feb. 19 at the Olympic Center.
The Blue Bombers wasted little time showing they wanted to advance to the semifinals. They buried three pucks in the opening period to take a 3-0 lead, and after the Chiefs notched the only goal of the middle stanza, the hosts scored two more times in the third to seal the victory.
Lake Placid peppered Chiefs netminder Zach Lareau with 23 shots in first period alone before finishing the game with a 53 shots on goal. Five different players scored for the Blue Bombers, with Ryan Damp, Shane McNierney, Nzoni Thompson, RJ Reid and Elias Smith each finding the back of the net.
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Lake Placid’s Chris Williams reaches for the puck while Collin Recore defends for Saranac during their Section VII quarterfinal game Feb. 19 at the Olympic Center’s 1932 Rink.
Senior defenseman Ryan Meyer also had a big night for the winners with three assists, with Thompson, Damp and Keegan Barney adding single assists.
With the win, the third-seeded Blue Bombers now face second-seeded Plattsburgh High School Friday. That game will be held Friday in Plattsburgh at the Ameri-Can North Sports Arena starting at 7 p.m.
"It was nice to come out and get some early goals, and then we kind of let Saranac shift the momentum their way in the second period," Lake Placid head coach Keith Clark said. "I thought our kids did a nice job responding in the third. We took care of business."
Damp put the Blue Bombers on the board 3:49 into the contest, and McNierney quickly pushed the hosts edge to 2-0 when he scored 51 seconds later. Thompson notched the Blue Bombers third goal on a power play at the 10:00 mark to send then into intermission with a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Chiefs cut their deficit to 3-1 with the lone goal of the second period, with Jeremy Barber scoring on the power play at the 11:34 mark, but their hopes to rally were short-lived as the Blue Bombers regained their three-goal edge when Reid scored at the 5:24 mark of the final stanza. Elias Smith then rounded out the scoring with Lake Placid's fifth goal with 1:25 remaining in the game.
After starting with a flurry, the Blue Bombers finished in the same manner, putting 22 shots on goal in the third period.
Sophomore Jeffrey Smith recorded 18 saves to earn the win in nets for Lake Placid. Zach Lareau made 48 stops in a losing effort between the pipes for Saranac Central, which was the sixth seed in the sectional playoffs.
With the win, the Blue Bombers improved to 15-4-2 overall. They now prepare for tough matchup with the Hornets. The teams split during their two regular-season games, each winning on the road. Lake Placid edged Plattsburgh in the last meeting six days ago, winning 1-0.
"We've had two up-and-down battles with them already, and hopefully it will be another really good game," Clark said. "We just have to go into their rink again ready to play."
Lake Placid 5, Saranac Central 1
1. LP, Damp, 3:49; 2. LP, McNierney (Meyer, Thompson), 4:40; 3. LP, Thompson (Meyer, Barney), 10:00, pp.
4. S, 11:34 Jeremy Barber (Erickson, Lilledahl), 11:34, pp.
5. LP, Reid (Meyer), 5:24; 6. LP, E. Smith (Damp), 13:35.
Shots on goal: Lake Placid 53, Saranac Central 19.
Saves: LP, Smith 18; SC, Zach Lareau 48.