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Holy Cow! Plainsmen and Blue Streaks skating together

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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Holy Cow! Plainsmen and Blue Streaks skating together

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Holy Cow! Plainsmen and Blue Streaks skating together

On the night of a meteor shower across the Northern Hemisphere, something just as rare occurred, green and blue working together on the same goal, on the same team, rooting for each other.

Not since Bill Murray exclaimed "Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria" has something so wonderfully strange occurred…Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs ice hockey players playing on the same side of the ice.

This isn’t an April Fool’s joke, this is real, and part of the 3rd annual Overtime Summer Hockey Tournament.

This year saw the Saratoga Plainsmen (not a misprint) a combined group of Clifton Park/Shenendehowa High School players and Saratoga Springs High School players that were part of a summer training program through Athletic Republic and the Hockey Hut in Clifton Park, developed by Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha and Saratoga coach Mike Ricupero.

"I’ve done something like this in the past with Burnt Hills/Scotia-Glenville and Niskayuna," de la Rocha said. "This year we teamed up with Saratoga."

The Saratoga Plainsmen saw some of the top names on both squads come together as a single unit as well as players from the Clifton Park Dynamo squad take to the ice wearing gray practice jerseys.

"It was kind of weird," Saratoga Springs defenseman Ryan Lee said. "I hated them before, but they’re not that bad guys, but I still have to hate them."

Ricupero and de la Rocha shared both practice and game duties, splitting the time equally and allowing the combined squads to hear from the opposition game philoso¬phies and techniques.

"I won’t say Coach Ricupero yelled more, but he was louder," Shenendehowa senior Tom Asterino said. "You could see how each one coached in his own way and still be able to put it together on the ice."

For Saratoga Plainsmen goalie, T.J. Delaney, it was a different look for him, wearing his Blue Streak facemask with a gray Shenendehowa jersey in goal. Tuesday night was the last time he would every be happy to see a Plainsmen forward score a goal…at least it was at the opposite end.

"If you want to win you have to put in the work," Delaney said. "Over the summer you have to get in what work you can to get better as a player…we’re still better."

Merging competitors is not new to sports, soccer and softball have led the way with premier teams, travel teams and tournament squad, gathering the top talent from throughout the Capital Region to compete as one unit. For hockey, it is one of the rarer occurrences, but could lead to cooler heads prevailing during the 2009-2010 CDHSHL season match-ups between these two rivals.

"If two kids get into it and you want to protect your teammate," Asterino said. "But if you know the other guy from summer hockey, why not stop it and keep them both on the ice."

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