BUFFALO — Apparently, early morning wakeup calls agree with the Queensbury Spartans.
Brendan Duffy scored twice, Brayden Ordway assisted on three goals and Owen Smith stopped 17 shots as the Spartans beat John Jay 4-0 in the semifinals of the State Ice Hockey Tournament on Saturday at Harborcenter. Queensbury will play for the Division II state title Sunday at noon against Skaneateles.
Queensbury’s semifinal was a 9:30 a.m. start, and coach Dean Williams said it took a few minutes before the Spartans were on top of their game.
“We struggled the first few minutes, were tentative, then got back into our physical hockey,” Williams said in a phone interview. “As soon as we did that, it allowed us more time to make decisions, allowed our forecheck to develop, and that was the turning point.”
The Spartans are making their sixth appearance in the state final four, but their first since 2004. This will be their second time in a state championship game. They lost in the finals in 2010.
Queensbury outshot John Jay 35-17. In the shutout effort, Smith became Queensbury’s career leader with 1,636 saves.
“The key with him was, he didn’t allow second-chance opportunities,” Williams said. “He controlled his rebounds.”
Brendan Murphy got the Spartans’ scoring started with a first-period goal. Ian Miller made it a 2-0 game early in the second and Brendan Duffy, the team’s leading goal-scorer, tacked on a third goal later on.
Duffy added an empty-netter in the final minute of play.
“It’s exactly what we wanted to do,” Williams said, “come in strong, give ourselves a chance to get to Sunday. After the first five minutes we really commanded the play of the game. We didn’t allow a lot of opportunities and we had a really good forecheck. After the first five minutes we got into playing our kind of hockey.”