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“Laker Nation” Ready for Skaneateles Nationals Debut

By Tom Herzig - Special to, 04/02/16, 9:00AM MDT


The 19U New York girls’ team is making its first nationals appearance

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- It’s a historic weekend for the Skaneateles Lakers as the 19U girls’ team makes the program’s first appearance at the national championships.

The Lakers qualified for the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II National Championships in Vermont by defeating Massena/St. Lawrence 3-0 in the New York state championship.

The Massena/St. Lawrence win followed a semifinal victory over the Rochester Grizzlies, a longtime rival. It was noteworthy not only for landing the Lakers’ first regional title, but also for the turnaround from a 4-0 loss to Massena/St. Lawrence in the prelims.

“We got thumped after playing 24 minutes of man-down hockey,” coach Beau Baylor said. “We got things sorted out and here we are. Our goal for the moment is to still be playing Sunday in the quarterfinals.”

Baylor notes that his team has members from the top to the bottom of the Empire State, requiring a lengthy commute for many to the team’s facilities in Skaneateles — a half hour southwest of Syracuse.

Goalie Tara Riley hails from Windsor, east of Binghamton on the Pennsylvania line. Teammate Kyleigh Prance, from Evans Mills, near the Ontario border, played on a merged varsity team for New York state champion Alexandria Bay/Thousand Islands High School.

The Lakers squad boasts at least one girl from each of the five girls’ high school teams in Section III — Skaneateles, Alexandria Bay, Clinton, Ithaca and Oswego — meaning some travel more than an hour to practices and games.

“They play against each other in high school, and then they’re back together for practice or games on the weekends as teammates,” assistant coach Jim Mills said.

Skaneateles finished the regular season with a 28-6-4 record. The Lakers have made many trips to the state tournament but last made an appearance in the finals in 2012.

“Kids are coming from different systems,” Boyles pointed out. “We tend to push it, even though we’re often yelling, ‘get back!’”

Skaneateles natives Melissa Armory, Mackie Kerr and Carley Mills have been teammates since 12U. Riley and Devin Baylor are returning goalies. Forward Grace Schnorr of Camillus, who plays forward on either side, was the New York Section III League Player of the Year.

“Our scoring is pretty well spread around,” Baylor said. “In tournament play, Schnorr has scored the most goals (6) and had four assists. Whitney Daino, from Oswego and Onandaga Community College, has the most assists (7) and scored three goals.”

“Against Massena, Sophie Goris scored the first goal on a breakaway,” Baylor added. “Then Whitney got what I’d call the goal of the tournament after Abi Kuhns made a great clear up to Schnorr before Whitney put the rebound in.”

Skaneateles employs three offensive lines and two defensive lines.

“Melissa Amory has adjusted and filled in as a fourth defenseman,” Baylor said. “It’s an unfamiliar position for her, but she’s done an outstanding job.”

On the power play, the Lakers bring Kuhns out to center with Schnorr and Fisher and move Daino back out to the blue line.

Baylor is assisted by last year’s 19U coach Pat McHale, Peter Kuhns and Jim Mills.

“Our girls program is only seven years old,” Mills noted. “Pat and I started the girls’ team when my daughter, Carley, was 11. Some of the girls had never played hockey or skated. Mackie Kerr, Melissa Amory and Carley were members of that team first team.

“Now seven years later, the same girls, with the addition of a few, are playing for the national championship. Only the coaches, the parents and the girls are giving us a chance to win.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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