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SARATOGA SPRINGS: Passing on their knowledge

When David Hungerford assembled his coaching staff for this year's Saratoga Blue Knights squirt division B hockey team, he wanted one that would give his young players as much knowledge as possible.

At the same time, Hungerford wanted coaches the players third and fourth graders could relate to.

So, Hungerford brought in three volunteer assistants " long-time youth hockey coach Terry O'Brien and two Saratoga Springs High School varsity players, Tyger McGuiggan and Nick Torres.

The result: three generations of hockey helping a fourth generation learn the sport.

"The critical thing to me is that I've had volunteers on the ice who are hockey people both young and old," said the 48-year-old Hungerford, who bridges the age gap between O'Brien and the two high school students.

Hungerford's idea has worked out well for the squirt division B team. The Blue Knights qualified for this week's Patriot League playoffs after a solid regular season that also included a second-place finish at the South Bur-lington Tournament.

"It's been a great year for all of them," said team manager Linda Pelletier, whose son Thomas is one of the players. "My son has really progressed."

"They share so much knowledge with the kids," said Glenn Hobbs, whose son David is the goaltender. "The kids look up to all of them."

Each assistant plays a specific role. Torres is the big brother to the players, skating with them in drills.

"The big thing I've been working with them on is making tape-to-tape, really crisp passes," said Torres, a senior forward with the high school team.

McGuiggan " Saratoga's starting goaltender " works specifically with Hobbs to teach him everything about the position.

"Playing goalie is very difficult because there's a very specific school of play, and it's important to teach young goalies this specific school of play called the 'butterfly stance,'" said McGuiggan, who finished his sophomore season as Saratoga's starting netminder. "It was popularized by guys like Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. It's very easy to teach it, but the goaltender has to be willing to learn it."

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