The new ice hockey season brings with it a name change for the Rivermen and a return in status for Queensbury back to being the lone Division II team.
The Rivermen have shed the Tri-Falls moniker to become Adirondack, a team that encompasses Glens Falls, South Glens Falls, Hudson Falls and Warrensburg. The change will have the Rivermen playing among the large schools in Section II.
That leaves Queensbury as the sole Division II team in the section, with an automatic bid to the state quarterfinals. The Spartans had been the only small school in Section II in the three seasons before last season, when they were joined by the Rivermen in Division II.
The 2016-17 season saw the two local rivals play twice, with Queensbury winning the Stick Game in a shootout and beating the Rivermen 5-0 in the Section II final. This season they’ll play just once, in the Stick Game on Feb. 7 at the Recreation Center.
The Spartans return many of their starters, including goalie Owen Smith, who made 37 saves in the sectional title game shutout. The Rivermen bring in a 29-player roster, though it’s heavy on underclassmen. Both schools will have to replace some scoring lost from last year’s teams.
Saratoga was a middle-of-the-pack team last season after several years at or near the top of the Capital District High School Hockey League. The Blue Streaks’ strength will be defense this season as they seek to get back into contention.
Adirondack: Jordan Willis, a senior playmaker and good finisher, is the leading scorer returning from last season (23-23-46). Andrew Rizzo is the leader on defense and can help out on the attack (21 assists last season). Noah Benson and Christian Carrion are junior defensemen who are strong skaters and will be a key part of the team. The Rivermen will need to replace the scoring of Jared Thomas (33-27-60), who is playing midget hockey this winter.
Queensbury: Patrick Williams is in his fifth year, and as a senior defenseman will be a team leader and a key player in all facets of the game. Austin Gordon is the leading scorer coming back from last year (14-6-20) and the fifth-year player offers toughness and speed. Also fifth-year captains are Gabe Smith and Liam Smith; both of them are aggressive forwards. Owen Smith is back in goal as a junior for his second full season as a starter. The Spartans need to replace the scoring of Ryan Mosher (13-17-30) and Jack Merkosky (13-15-28).
Saratoga: The Streaks have a bit of work to do replacing top scorers Jake Fauler (16-27-43) and Jonathan Luse (17-14-31). Matt Shamberger is back for a third varsity season after scoring 10 goals last season. Senior Nick Guzi is the anchor on defense. Sophomore Mack Ogden may contribute to the scoring and junior Gary Blanchard is expected to be a tenacious forward. Brad Hipsley returns in goal.