By Jordan J. Michael
LAKE PLACID –– The Adirondack women’s hockey team spent most of last weekend thrashing opponents on its way to a successful Empire State Winter Games Gold medal defense. Over five games, Adirondack scored 43 goals while allowing only five.
The celebratory ride started last Friday morning with a 15-to-1 whiplashing of Long Island, and closed with a 5-to-2 victory over Western. Silver medalist New York City gave Adirondack a fight, losing by two goals.
Guilderland’s Susan Tullock and coaches Jim Joyce and Corey Rosoff have been with Adirondack for at least 10 years while the team has stacked Gold and Silver medals. Year after year, Adirondack is the cream of the hockey crop at the Games.
“Eh, a little crazy, huh?” said Tullock after the lopsided game against Long Island. She’s one of the core veterans alongside Danielle Lennox, Andrea Kilbourne-Hill, Christin Powers, and Jessica Nugent. “We just play well,” Tullock said. “Even though the score is out of hand, we don’t do silly things. We’re trying to improve our skills and play as a team.”
Long Island was giving Adirondack tons of space on the ice to pass the puck around. Also, the goalie was struggling.
“We’re just trying to win the periods,” said Rosoff, who previously coached boys’ hockey at Plattsburgh High School for 20 years. “Once these ladies hit the ice, it’s like clock work.”
Adirondack led, 10 to 0, after the second period. During intermission, the referee asked the scorekeeper if there were a mercy rule. The other referee chimed in, saying, “Just start the clock fast and stop it slow.”
The Adirondack team is formed from a cluster –– Canton, St. Lawrence, Clarkson, Potsdam, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Union College –– of hockey talent. Most of the Adirondack women played college hockey at a very competitive level.
“We play hockey the same way, whenever or whoever we play,” said Tullock, who played Divison I at Boston College, graduating in 1995. “Everyone has a good amount of knowledge.”
The forecheck was working very well against Long Island. Adirondack puts two players on the puck, and a third player is responsible for the puck if the first two can’t get it. The puck stayed on the Adirondack players’ sticks for most of the game.
“We spend at least 10 seconds talking about our forecheck before every game,” Rosoff said. “It’s our players’ skill level that creates the forecheck. It’s pretty simple: Pressure the puck.”
Adirondack didn’t have much time to practice before the Games, but the team already has enough capacity to succeed. There’s a purpose to every possession.
“You just have to get to the puck first,” Tullock said. “We’re going in deep every single time.”
With 2:30 minutes left in regulation play, Long Island scored its lone goal. An Adirondack defender slid behind goalie Chantel Johnston to try and stop the puck, but was too late. There would be no shutout, but the 14-goal lead was more than safe.
“If you’re dominating, you can be more creative,” said Rosoff. “It depends on who you’re playing.”
The rink was quiet minus a loud Long Island husband barking from the stands. When the buzzer sounded, Adirondack skated off as humble winners. The team won its remaining four games and kept the Adirondack’s Gold.
“This is fun,” Tullock said. “I get to play with unbelievable players. I like watching what they do because they do it well.”
Women’s hockey has grown immensely since Tullock graduated from Boston College. Adirondack reaps the benefits when Division I players graduate and join the team.
“The talent pool has doubled with speed and everything,” said Tullock, who plays in a men’s league from time to time. “There’s really no advice at this juncture, but the veterans try to keep the team on track.”