SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY − In the midst of a six game win streak and now an 11-4 season, the Saratoga Springs Ice Hockey team is getting fresh legs in the form of their captain, Mack Ogden, returning to the lineup.
“It’s huge. Having the beginning of the season legs this far into the season brings a lot to the team,” said Ogden. “It gets the jump going and everybody is excited. It means a lot.”
Ogden suffered a broken thumb which sidelined him for the the first 13 games of the season, returning on January 21 against the Niskayuna Coop. Ogden had a goal in the 9-0 win over the Mohawks and added an assist in his second game against La Salle on January 24.
“Just having him on the bench is incredible. He is undoubtedly the leader of our team. It’s unreal to have him back,” said Will Detora. “Him being there is huge. Obviously his play is something we love to have, but his morale and the way he keeps everyone composed − the guys staying composed when games get tough is due to him. He’s a great leader.”
Ogden is beloved by his team and his return will be that last stretch push the Blue Streaks could use coming into the waning weeks of the 2019-2020 season.
“He’s a great friend of mine. He’s a great leader. He’s a great teammate. He brings energy everyday,” said Joe Amodio. “It feels like you have a little bit extra to give when he is out there. Boy, does he work hard. He’s a great role model for everyone on this team.”
Ogden finished last season with seven goals and four assists. The tiny center can be compared to a Brad Marchand or Travis Konecny style of play. He is always buzzing around the ice, being an annoyance to the other team, grinding for loose pucks and chipping away along the boards. Ogden brings that style of play, while staying a role model and not falling into the trope of being a trash talker or over-confident on the ice.
“You just don’t say anything back when they talk and it gets them mad,” said Ogden on how he avoids the extra curricular activites of the game. “You just keep going and hammering at them. The harder you work the angrier they get.”
Saratoga Head Coach Tim Horst acknowledges Ogden’s importance to the lineup and what it means for the captain’s return.
“It means everything. He’s such a spark plug for us,” said Horst. “He does all the right things all the time. He’s always working his tail off, he’s back checking hard. He works just as hard without the puck as he does with it. He’s a great leader by example for us.”
While Saratoga has missed their captain, assistant captains Detora and Amodio have taken a bulk of the workload. Amodio leads the Blue Streaks with 16 goals and 23 assists and Detora is right behind him with 12 goals and 23 assists. Both show an ability to create open ice and be creative with the puck.
Saratoga currently sits in second place in the Section II standings, right behind the 14-1 Bethlehem Eagles. Bethlehem has 13 points to Saratoga's 12 points and their only loss was to Christian Brothers Academy on December 13.
The Guilderland Coop is not far behind with 10 conference points and the Adirondack Coop and Queensbury are next with 8.
Quite simply, Saratoga is sitting pretty right now in the Section II standings.
“We are working really hard, especially in practice,” said Amodio. “Everybody is fired up. It’s a lot of fun when you’re winning but you have to stay focused on working and working on the little things.”
“I think it is our senior leadership that is coming through. These guys are hungry and they are leading by example,” said Horst. “It’s not just in the games, we see it everyday in practice and that’s where it all starts for us.”
Horst attributes the Blue Streaks’ success to staying consistent and disciplined to their systems.
Along with the offensive talents of Amodio and Detora, Brad Blake has picked up right where he left off last season. The starting goalie for the Blue Streaks is 8-3-1 this season with a 2.29 goals against average. Blake is what you think of when you think of a goalie. He is mobile in the crease, well positioned, and has a quiet confidence in between the pipes.
“We’re following our systems pretty well,” said Blake on the team’s success. “As long as we can follow that and follow what coach says we are getting things done.”
Joining Detora, Amodio, Ogden, and Blake is a host of role players that are very important in the lineup. Michael Montague and Griffin Sarver on the point have played a huge part of pushing pucks to the front of the net, each totaling 16 points this season.
Charlie Leary is another defenseman that means a lot to the lineup. Leary’s size and heavy shot are the first things that would come to mind, but his skating ability and ability to cover a lot of ice is a nice addition for the Blue Streaks.
The list can go on. Andrew Blanchard, Riley Lefebvre, and Joe Mergen are just a few more guys that can stand out any given night. The Blue Streaks are deep. Every player is talented. Maybe that’s why they can be considered a favorite to be at Messa Rink at the beginning of March with the likes of Bethlehem, CBA, or Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville/Voorheesville/Schalmont.
“We’re just focused on the next game,” said Detora on who he thinks will be a threat come postseason time. “We are just trying to get the next one and getting every point at a time.”