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Hockey: Torres takes over for Ricupero at Saratoga

New coach debuts tonight against Shaker/Colonie

— A new coach will be on the Saratoga Springs hockey team’s bench at tonight’s home opener against Shaker/Colonie at Weibel Avenue Arena.

David Torres has taken over on an interim basis for the Blue Streaks after head coach Mike Ricupero took a leave of absence last week for what the school athletic director Peter Sheehan called “personal reasons.” Ricupero did not return a call.

“It was a smooth transition,” said Torres, who was an assistant coach with the Saratoga program in the 1990s. “The kids were a bit confused at first, but they just want to play hockey.”

“The timing was unfortunate, but we have to move on and we’re lucky to have Dave Torres step in,” said Sheehan.

Ricupero and assistant coach Jeff Harrington announced their decision Nov. 21, five days before the team’s season opener against Guilderland/Mohonasen. Harrington coached the Blue Streaks in the team’s 10-2 victory over the Dutch Warriors at Union College before Torres and volunteer assistant Tim Grande officially took over Monday.

“Tim Grande and I have known each other for more than 25 years,” said Torres. “We’ve played on the same team, and we’ve played against each other. We know each other quite well.”

“Coach Ricupero and coach Harrington were both excellent coaches, and I know Dave Torres is trying very hard to carry on what we call the ‘Coop Tradition,’” said Sheehan.

Under Ricupero’s leadership, Saratoga has won the last two Section II Division I titles and reached the 2010 and 2011 state finals.

“We’ll do our best to continue that tradition,” said Torres. “I’m not promising another appearance in the state finals. That’s not a guarantee. But I promise that we will do our best to get back there.”

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