Pelham defeats Saranac 8-2 in state ice hockey semi, heads to final on Sunday



Pelham Hockey celebrates after winning state semifinals match against Saranac.

Pelham overwhelmed Saranac 8-2 in the Division II state ice hockey semifinal at Buffalo’s LECOM Harborcenter on Saturday. The Pelicans will play on Sunday against the winner of the Skaneateles vs. Salmon River semifinal for the Division II state championship.

This is the second year in a row that Pelham has made the trip to Buffalo, winning the title last year.

“We dominated from start to finish,” said senior Gavin Kleinberger. “We knew we could get back here from the start. We were really fueled by the student section, it was so rutheless.”

The Pelicans started the scoring with a goal from junior Will Crotty with 14:41 left in the first period. Freshman goalie Camden White played the majority of the game, saving numerous shots throughout play.

Saranac knotted the score 1-1 with 8:23 left in the first, but sophomore Reid Finster made the score 2-1 at 4:29. Senior captain Luke Green came in with another goal with just 37 seconds left in the first period, taking the score to 3-1.

The “Dans” of Pelham kicked off period two. Daniel Mitrione netted his first this season on an assist from senior Danny Gallivan. Saranac responded with six minutes left in the period. The 4-2 scoreline didn’t last for long. Junior Griffin Evans and senior Chris Franchini each tallied, pushing the Pelican’s lead out to 6-2. Evans scored again with three seconds left in the second period.

Both teams slowed the pace in the third period, with Saranac defending close to their net for a good part of the time. The 7-2 score from the second period didn’t change until 42 seconds left in the third, when Pelham senior James Vassalotti tallied on an assist from his sophomore brother, Joseph. Final score: 8-2.

“It was a team effort all the way through,” said senior Chris Franchini. “We battled every minute and every line was playing their best.”

The Pelham Examiner will be doing live coverage of the final Sunday via our Instagram and Twitter accounts (@pelhamexaminer for either). Follow us for real-time game updates.

Here’s the full roster for the Pelicans. Names to watch include Green (7), Franchini (2), Crotty (5),  Finster (21), junior Joey Letizia (17), White (33), junior Santino Esposito (25) and senior goalie Jack Mallinson (30).

The livestream for all games will be here.

Tickets for the games in Buffalo are still being sold.