BLUE STREAKS READY FOR DON KAUTH TOURNEY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> This weekend is more than a home opener for the Saratoga Springs Ice hockey team. It’s a chance to continue to improve, a chance to continue to win and a reminder that the game they love brings people together for more than a score on the board after 51 minutes.
Shenendehowa will open Friday night by hosting Mamaroneck at the Capital Arena at 8 p.m. in the first official contest of the Don Kauth Tournament with the Blue Streaks host the same Section 1 squad at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Plainsmen follow by facing Section VI powerhouse Williamsville North at 2:45 p.m. and Saratoga returns to the Weibel Avenue Rink 2 p.m. Sunday to face Williamsville North.
“Each year we start out with the non-league games, just like Shenendehowa, they’re our travel partner and we want to see the best competition in the state,” Saratoga Springs Coach Dave Torres said. “We can go play teams that are not as good as us and win by four, five, six goals, but what is that teaching these guys? Not much.
“I’d rather play a quality opponent, maybe come out on the losing end, but learn a lot more from our team and make these guys work harder. We were fortunate enough to come out on top both those games and they’ve got a little bit of a chip on their shoulder right now
and that’s a good thing.”
The Blue Streaks rallied past Section I’s John Jay last Friday and handled another Section I squad, North Rockland, 5-1 on Saturday before returning for this weekend’s memorial tournament.
“I liked their tenacity, the togetherness, commitment, all the things we want to see at the end of the season we’re already seeing early on,” Torres said. “That game we totally outplayed John Jay, outshot them 9-3 in the first period and were down 2-1.
“In the past maybe a young team would have hung their heads. These guys did not hang their heads, they kept fighting back and we knew we had a chance. Those three words explain what it’s all about.”
Torres wants to see more of the same in week two against both out of town teams on the Blue Streak’s home ice.
“I want to see a repeat of what we did last week — attitude-wise, not on the ice of course, because we started out slow,” Torres said. “I want to see a better first period, a better start to the game because Mamaroneck is certainly going to come ready to fire and they always do.
“We need to show people that we’re the better team right from the get-go and not wait until the second or third period.”
Saratoga captains, junior Mack Ogden and senior Quinn Leffler, are anxious to see if their squad can extend the early season start past the impressive 2-0 mark.
“It’s our first start like that in a really long time, we just want to carry it over this weekend, keep it rolling,” Mack Ogden said. “We knew we could win both the games, we just had to show up and everybody was prepared for both and it worked out.”
Despite the unblemished record, Leffler hopes that the Blue Streaks can not only stay hot, but start off quickly in front of their hometown crowd.
“For the past couple year’s we’ve been having a hard time getting started right off the bat,” Quinn Leffler said. “That’s something we need to work on, ready to play, being focused as soon as the puck drops.
“Our hockey-sense all around, everyone has to be in their zone and ready to play. You have to know where you are supposed to be.”
The event is not only played to honor Saratoga Springs resident Don Kauth who was tragically killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 where he worked as a financial analyst, but for a man who meant much to the local hockey community.
“Don was a good friend of mine, I’m good friends with the family,” Torres said. “I worked with (his wife) Anne for a number of years at the high school, I know all of her children, it’s especially close to me.
“I’ll talk about my sentiments and what Don meant to this community and the hockey community. It’s special.”
This will be the third Kauth tournament for Ogden, fourth for Leffler, respectively.
“This weekend is about what Don Kauth meant to the community and how we need to play for him,” Leffler said. “One big thing we like to take away from this tournament is that we put up a good set-up for all the teams that come in. I think we show a lot of class and everyone enjoys it.”
The Blue Straks will again look to stop two downstate powers from putting the puck in the net during this weekend’s Don Kauth Memorial Tournament Saturday and Sunday at the Saratoga Springs Ice Rink.
Saratoga Springs ice hockey coach Dave Torres talks with one of his goalies at practice. He knew Don Kauth personally and will address the team about the importance of this weekend’s annual memorial tournament.
A member of the Saratoga Springs ice hockey ‘Pink’ line skates the puck up the ice during practice at the Saratoga Springs Ice Rink.