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WEST POINT, N.Y. — It hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops for Saratoga's hockey squad this winter.
The Blue Streaks, who saw their coach abruptly resign on the eve of the 2011 season, rode a three-game losing streak into Wednesday's matchup against Pelham. Putting that in perspective, the Section 2 powerhouse — which has appeared in back-to-back NYS Division 1 championship games — had lost just three games all last season.
Against the Pelicans, Saratoga recaptured some of its old form.
The Blue Streaks (7-5) overcame a 3-1 third-period deficit to post a thrilling 4-3 OT win over Pelham (5-2), which entered the matchup as the No. 1 D2 team in the state, according to the most recent NYSSWA rankings.
“We lost three games in a row, so it felt good finally getting a win,” said Saratoga's Tom Naples, who scored the game-winning goal with 2:59 left in the first five-minute overtime period. “This is a step in the right direction.”
Naples' game winner knuckled past Pelham sophomore goalie Matt DeYoung (23 saves), who was inserted in place of usual starter Josh Borofsky.
“We were battling in the corner and it took a lucky bounce and I was in the right spot,” Naples said, detailing the goal.
Pelham — which extended its lead to 3-1 with 13:38 left in the third period on a Graham Lambdin goal — saw it all fall apart inside the final seven minutes of regulation.
Michael Layman sparked Saratoga's comeback at the 6:08 mark, scoring a power-play goal on a blast from the point to make it 3-2. Alex Luse provided the equalizer with 3:35 left to force overtime.
“We were sloppy at times and that's going to be the case if you don't take care of your own zone,” Pelham coach Ed Witz said of the collapse. “We have to take care of our own zone.”
Lambdin echoed his coach's sentiments.
“If we had played better defense, we would have won,” he said. “We were having trouble getting it out of the zone. When you don't get it out, they get more opportunities to score.”
Pelham sophomore forward Andrew Schauer made the most of his opportunities, scoring a game-high two goals to pace the offense. Schauer gave the Pelicans a 1-0 lead with 10:42 left in the opening period.
Saratoga evened it at 1-1 with 58 seconds left in the first, but momentum stayed on Pelham's side. Schauer tallied the go-ahead goal on a power play off an assist from sophomore defenseman Will Cullen with 2:39 left in the second period. The aforementioned Lambdin then scored a pretty wraparound goal to make it a two-goal game early in the third period. At that point, Pelham looked destined for victory.
“I don't like the idea that we dropped a two-goal lead, but it is what it is,” Witz said. “We have Suffern next week and hopefully we can play hard against them and have it be competitive.”
SARATOGA 1 0 2 1 4
PELHAM 1 1 1 0 3
Saratoga: Alex Luse (1G, 1A); Tom Naples (1G); Tyler Bullard (1G); Mike Layman (1G); Kyle Patton (1A); Nick Winters (1A)
Pelham: Andrew Schauer (2G); Graham Lambdin (1G); Will Cullen (1A); Matt Landis (1A); Danny Shea (1A)
* Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass *