SKANEATELES — Despite missing two key players from its lineup, Skaneateles hockey had more than enough ammunition to take down a formidable Pelham team in the opening round of its home tournament.
Forward Garrett Krieger scored three goals as the Lakers defeated Section I's Pelham 8-1 Friday night at the Skaneateles YMCA as part of the annual Duke Schneider tournament.
Schneider, the tournament's namesake, was an important figure in the Skaneateles community before his passing in 2007. He's a former coach for the Lakers and also lent his time in various other ways for the program. One of the YMCA's two ice rinks bears his name.
The win improves Skaneateles to 7-0-1 this season. The Lakers, who are the defending state champion, are currently ranked No. 1 in the state in Division II. Pelham entered the game ranked No. 8 in the state, and while Skaneateles was at less than full strength, the Lakers proved to be in a class above their Section I counterpart.
"When guys can step in and fill some roles, it gives them an opportunity to show what they have," Skaneateles coach Mitch Major said. "Everyone's working hard in practice, so it's just a next man up mentality."
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The game was scoreless for only 37 seconds until Charlie Major opened the scoring, his first of two on the night to put Skaneateles in front early. The Lakers buried three more goals in the first period, including two power-play tallies in the final 1:02 of the frame, to head to the locker room for intermission with a 4-0 lead.
One of those goals came from the sophomore Krieger. He added another in the second period and a final goal, Skaneateles' seventh of the game, in the third to complete the hat trick. One of Skaneateles' best at generating quality scoring chances, Krieger was rewarded with a career night; he also had two assists and totaled five points in all.
"He puts in the time and he puts in the effort," Mitch Major said. "He shoots pucks a lot and works hard in every practice and every drill we do. Over a long period of time, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with. It's just a matter of time with his skill set."
Aside from Krieger's three goals and Charlie Major's two, Cam Lowe (two assists), Cole Heintz (one assist) and Charlie Russell (two assists) also picked up tallies. Major, Ben Clymer, Drew Henderson, Drew Jensen and Curran McGowan also had an assist each. Goalie Chad Lowe got the start and made 10 saves.
Skaneateles will play Williamsville South, a Section VI team from the Buffalo area, Saturday at 1 p.m. in the tournament championship. Williamsville South is the only team in the tournament that's currently not state-ranked. The Billies beat Baldwinsville, a state-ranked Division I team, in their first game for the right to face Skaneateles.
It's not the first time the Duke Schneider tournament has featured a handful of the state's best. Pelham, the state champion in 2017, is a regular participant, while other strong programs like B'ville and John Jay Cross River have a history of making the trip to Skaneateles to play.
"We love Pelham. (Coach) Ed Witz is a great guy and we're fortunate to have them come up every year," Mitch Major said. "He does a great job with his team and we know when we play a team from Pelham, we're going to have a team that competes hard."
Sports reporter Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.