PLATTSBURGH — Jack Tolosky and the Plattsburgh High boys’ hockey team saved its late-game dramatics for the playoffs.
The junior forward punched his team’s ticket to next week’s Section VII championship contest with a game-winning tally at 5:11 of double overtime in a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Lake Placid in semifinal action Friday.
The 15th-ranked Hornets (13-8) will challenge No. 9 Beekmantown (17-3-1) Wednesday night at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena in the sectional title game.
“I didn’t know it was in; I had to look around — saw it and the game was over,” Tolosky said. “It feels great. This is the second time I’ve had a chance to do that. I did it last year, and I’m just looking forward to the next game.”
John Anthony Fine-Lease held possession behind the Blue Bombers’ (15-5-2) net before throwing a blind pass in front that reached Tolosky’s stick.
“Eric (Bechard) took the initial shot and got his own rebound behind the net,” Fine-Lease said. “To tell you the truth, I just kind of turned around and threw it on net. I looked back, saw (Tolosky) and thought ‘game over’.”
Plattsburgh High, however, nearly lost the game in the closing stages of regulation.
Lake Placid’s Nzoni Thompson skated in all alone and beat Plattsburgh High goaltender Robby Knowles with a finesse move in front with 1:28 remaining.
“First of all, I give credit to (coach) Keith Clark because it was a set play,” Hornets coach Jamie Reidy said. “(Thompson) is a defenseman, who they moved up on the wing because of his speed. The puck skipped through the neutral zone and away he went. All I told our kids was, ‘it’s only one shot.’ We stuck to that.”
Then, with Knowles pulled and an extra-attacker on the ice, eighth-grader Andrew Bechard ripped a shot in the low slot, tying the game at 2-all with 22.6 seconds on the clock.
“It’s kind of fitting that Andrew Bechard gets the goal because he’s our Energizer Bunny, and he showed it there,” Reidy said. “Our goal was to direct anything we could to the net, which is playoff hockey anyway. It’s never really a pretty goal that ties or wins the game.”
Lake Placid held the advantage in shots on goal during the first seven minute and 30-second extra session, 5-0.
Knowles was forced to make multiple point-blank saves just outside the crease to preserve the tie game.
Neither team was able to capitalize before Tolosky’s heroic one-time blast found the back of the net with 2:19 remaining in the second overtime period.
“After they went up 2-1, we met up as a team and said, ‘we’ve got over a minute left,’” Eric Bechard said. “We knew the season wasn’t over. We’ve been working too hard. When Andrew (Bechard) scored, we knew momentum shifted our way.”
Plattsburgh High finished 0-for-3 on the power play, while Lake Placid was 0-for-1 on the man advantage.
The Blue Bombers held the advantage on total shots on goal, 30-27.
Knowles was credited with 28 saves on 30 shots faced, while Tucker Angelopoulos recorded 24 stops in the losing effort.
“Playoff hockey is fun and the atmosphere here (Friday) was exceptional,” Reidy said. “I think it’s one of the best high school games that I’ve been involved with during my five years with the program.”
Tolosky said his team needs to play its brand of hockey against Beekmantown in order to be successful. The winner will receive an automatic berth in the state semifinals Saturday, March 9 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“We’ve just got to dump the puck deep and get some shots on net,” Tolosky said. “When you get shots, stuff like this happens. We have to be the first to the puck and win those 50-50 battles.”
Plattsburgh High 3,
Lake Placid 2 (2OT)
Lake Placid 1 0 1 0 0 — 2
PHS 1 0 1 0 1 — 3
First period- 1, PHS, Tolosky (unassisted), 10:05. 2, LP, McNierney (unassisted), 13:03.
Third period- 3, LP, Thompson (Strack), 13:32. 4, PHS, A. Bechard (E. Bechard, Maston), 14:37.
Second overtime- 5, PHS, Tolosky (Fine-Lease , (E. Bechard), 5:11.
Shots: Lake Placid 30. Plattsburgh High 27.
Saves: Angelopoulos, LP, 24. Knowles, PHS, 28.