The Saranac Lake boys hockey team faced adversity all season long, due mainly to a rash of injures that left the Red Storm with a short bench heading into just about every game.
Meanwhile, Lake Placid's hockey team had one of its best campaigns in recent history before its run ended in a double-overtime loss during the Section VII semifinal playoff round.
The two teams, who have one of the most storied rivalries in the North Country high school hockey, combined to have seven team members recognized for their efforts by the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference and Section VII.
Eddie Kane, Lake Placid
Player of the year, first team
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Lake Placid had three seniors named to the All-CVAC team. Eddie Kane received the top honor as the league's player of the year and was also a first-team pick at forward. Blue Bombers defenseman RJ Reid was named a second-team all-star and Keegan Barney received honorable mention.
Saranac Lake had three players and a coach recognized for outstanding seasons. Junior Brad Shumway was a first-team selection on defense, senior captain Grant Strack was a second-team forward pick, senior Quinn Urquhart was an honorable mention selection, and Will Ellsworth was named as the Coach of the Year.
Kane was one of four seniors on a Blue Bombers squad that finished with a 15-5-2 overall record. The four-year varsity player finished second in the CVAC in scoring with 27 goals, 14 assists and 41 points playing in a league where three teams - Lake Placid, Plattsburgh and Beekmantown - all finished the regular season ranked in the top 15 in Division II in New York state.
"Eddie has been a CVAC all-star since his sophomore year, and it's nice to see him get that accolade," Lake Placid coach Keith Clark said. "He was our offensive leader. You have to be able to score goals to win, and Eddie was a guy who has that skill."
Reid was a formidable presence along the blue line for Lake Placid and played a key role defending against the most dangerous players on opposing teams. He finished the season with three goals and 10 assists.
"RJ had a real solid season," Clark said. "He was much more consistent this year than in previous years. He logged a lot of valuable ice time for us, and we often matched him up against other teams' top scorers and top lines."
Barney, a center, was second in scoring for the Blue Bombers with 11 goals and 10 assists.
"We're really going to miss Keegan," Clark said. "He was a fifth-year guy for us. He's a hard worker, he was a consistent force on offense for us, and he's a good guy who did a nice job unifying the team."
After winning back-to-back Section VII titles and playing in the state final four last year, Saranac Lake's hockey team struggled with low numbers this year and finished with a 7-9-5 record overall. But Ellsworth said his team always played competitively while having a target on its back.
"We had limited numbers this year, sometimes it was just 10 or 11 guys playing for us in games," Ellsworth said. "The good thing is we were in a lot of those games. Those five ties we had, they could have easily been wins."
Ellsworth credited his three CVAC all-star picks for taking on key roles for the team this year.
Shumway was a workhorse on the blue line for the Red Storm, and he often played in games with just three defenseman in the lineup. He finished the season with five goals and five assists.
"Out of all the guys on our team, Brad logged the most ice time for us by far," Ellsworth said. "He was our defensive leader, and he also started a lot of our offense. He did a nice job getting the puck out of our zone, and he had a good slapshot from the point."
Strack carried much of Saranac Lake's offense on his back, and came up big with a number of game-winning goals. He finished the year with 22 goals, 8 assists and 30 points, and a lot of those tallies came during scrambles in front of the opposition nets.
"Grant is a gritty forward who was tough to move," Ellsworth said. "He scored a lot of garbage goals for us, and that's the kind of player you want out there. He wasn't afraid to mix it up."
Prior to this season, Urquhart was a forward for the Red Storm but was moved back to defense, and Ellsworth said the senior did a nice job transitioning to the position. He scored five goals and had 12 assists.
"Quinn did whatever we asked him to do, and he had a great season," Ellsworth said. "I give him a lot of credit for making the move to defense. He did what he had to do to help the team."
Although his team finished the campaign with a rare losing record, Ellsworth said his trio of all-stars have had great careers with Saranac Lake, and Shumway has one more season to come.
"Strack, Urquhart and Shumway - those three have been there and done that," Ellsworth said. "We've been able to win two straight Section VII titles, win a regional championship and play in the final four, and they were all a part of that."
Ellsworth said he was surprised to be named the CVAC's coach of the year this season, and it was an honor he also received a year ago.
"I think the coaches around the league have a lot of respect for the hockey program we've built at Saranac Lake," Ellsworth said. "I think they also had a lot of respect for what we were able to accomplish with thin numbers this season. Being named coach of the year this season and co-coach of the year last season - it's a great honor."