One of the problems with playing in the state high school playoffs in any sport is that there are few easy opponents once a team reaches that level.
The Starpoint hockey team is well aware of that.
The Spartans ran into the defending New York State Public High School Athletic Association champions, Section III's Skaneateles, on Saturday night at the SUNY Buffalo State Ice Arena. The Lakers were too good on this night, taking a 6-1 decision in the Division II quarterfinal.
“We pulled the best team in the state, and they played like it,” Starpoint coach Clayton Wilson said. “They’re a good team. We prepared for them. Their coach told me we were the best team we’ve played all year. He said it wasn’t a 6-1 game, and I agree. Once the wheels fall off, it’s tough to stay focused at the end.”
Skaneateles has a 22-0-1 record and will return to Buffalo next weekend for the state semifinals at LECOM Harborcenter.
The Lakers played with a maturity that is not supposed to be associated with a team that only has three seniors on the roster.
“I didn’t tell my boys this, but they have 11 kids that are going on to play in USA Hockey states," Wilson said. "That’s the level of hockey they’re at. I’ve got a few guys like that, but they’ve got almost 12. It’s fine. My team will compete against anyone. … They got the best of us today; I’d love to play them again.”
Teams going up against a top opponent usually have one chance to pull off an upset. Starpoint’s opportunity came in the second period. After Skaneateles took a 3-0 lead after the first period, Blake Dewey scored to cut the margin to two.
“I just took a slap shot from the point, and I think the goalie was screened,” he said. “It found its way in, and the bench woke up after that. We had a great second period.”
Starpoint had a five-on-three power play soon after Dewey’s score. A goal would have gone a long way, but it couldn’t find the net. Skaneateles finished the game off with three goals in the third period.
The Spartans will have to settle for the first Section VI championship in school history, and a 20-2-2 record.
“A lot of seniors in there are three-year veterans,” Wilson said. “These seniors, their commitment and love for the game – that’s the type of team it is.”