By ROB JONAS
The Adirondack Rivermen appear primed for a major turnaround this season.
After finishing near the bottom of the Capital District High School Hockey League standings last year, the Rivermen – comprised of players from Glens Falls, Hudson Falls and South Glens Falls high schools – are off to a 2-1-0 start against league opponents and a 3-2-0 start overall. They have already defeated two traditionally strong programs – Shenendehowa (4-2 Dec. 13 in Clifton Park) and North Country rival Queensbury (3-1 Dec. 5). For a team that won all of four games in 2018-19, it’s a promising start.
The crux of Adirondack’s revival is a balanced attack led by veteran forward Will Cormie. Nine players have scored at least one goal for the Rivermen in the team’s first five games, with Cormie leading the way with six tallies. Two other veterans, Nate Scarincio (2 goals, 1 assist) and Carter Vanderminden (1 goal, 3 assists), have also been highly productive, which has helped Adirondack turn things around.
Adirondack has a chance to top last year’s win total with its next two home games – Dec. 18 against the Capital District Jets and Dec. 23 against the GMSSV Storm. January brings a showdown with two-time defending Division 1 champion Bethlehem (Jan. 8 at the Bethlehem Area YMCA), as well as key contests against Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa (Jan. 24) and LaSalle (Jan. 29). A couple of wins against those teams could help cement the Rivermen as a CDHSHL contender.
Big win for the Brothers
Christian Brothers Academy earned a huge win by defeating Bethlehem 3-2 Dec. 13. Michael Cochran, Ryan Dollar and Jack Murphy provided the Brothers’ goals, and Josh Coburn needed to make only 16 saves on 18 shots as CBA’s defense clamped down on Bethlehem’s high-powered offense.
This is exactly the kind of result CBA needed in its quest to reassert itself as a CDHSHL contender following last year’s middle-of-the-pack finish. Following the graduation of leading scorer Hunter Pemrick, the Brothers had to find some players to pick up the slack. Cochran and Dollar figured to be two of the players the Brothers could lean on at the offensive end, having each registered double-digit points last year. If Murphy, Greg Beaulieu and Carson Curran can contribute some scoring on a regular basis, CBA could be closer to elite status in 2019-20.
The result also serves as a wake-up call for Bethlehem. The Eagles coasted through some impressive wins against Section 1 and Section 3 teams before struggling against CBA. They know they’ll be getting every Section 2 team’s best performance moving forward – the price a defending champion must pay every year. On top of that, they are without last year’s leading scorer, Michael Bievenue, who is now playing for the Clifton Park Dynamo 18U team.
This is not to say Bethlehem is going to tumble down the standings. Jackson Carroll has quickly established himself as an offensive threat, posting 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in only five games. Combined with veteran forward Justin Chenaille, high-scoring defenseman Jonathan Thibodeau and sophomore forward Willam Bievenue, the Eagles are not lacking in firepower without the older Bievenue brother. Add in goaltender Michael Kurdziolek (4-1-0, 1.92 GAA, .942 save percentage), and this looks like another loaded roster.
One other note: CBA and Bethlehem have a rematch on Jan. 31 at the Bethlehem Area YMCA. Depending on how their respective seasons are going at that point, it could be a very important game for Section 2 seedings.
Breakthrough for the Jets
After going winless in 2018-19, the Capital District Jets ended their skid with a 6-3 non-league win against LaSalle Dec. 14. David Clemenzi had two goals and an assist, and Joshua McKinney added a goal and two assists to lead the Jets to their first victory as a five-school program. Originally called the Shaker-Colonie Jets, the team added players from Averill Park, Columbia and Tamarac high schools last year to become the Capital District Jets.
Wednesday, Dec. 18
Saratoga Springs (1-0-0, 1-2-0) at Shenendehowa (0-2-0, 1-3-0): This Saratoga County rivalry adds a new chapter Wednesday as Saratoga looks to build off its 4-1 victory over Adirondack on Dec. 11. The Blue Streaks return five of their top six scorers from last year, including Will Detora and Joe Amodio, who accounted for a combined total of 27 goals in 2018-19. Meanwhile, Shen is looking to end its three-game slide, which includes losses to Adirondack and Queensbury.
Friday, Dec. 20
Queensbury (2-1-0, 2-2-1) at Saratoga Springs: After reaching the Division 2 state finals last year, Queensbury is looking to remain one of the elite CDHSHL teams, fueled by the return of Brendan Duffy and Jack Randall on offense. A win at the home of the Blue Streaks could go a long way towards establishing the Spartans as the team to beat.
Bethlehem at Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa (0-0-0, 4-1-0): It’s the first CDHSHL game for BH/BS, which has outscored its non-league opponents 25-13 in its five warm-up contests. Connor Cecala has become an offensive threat for BH/BS, posting five goals and six assists thus far. Jake Koszelak (5 goals, 5 assists) and Owen Grabb (2 goals, 7 assists) are also making their presence known on the ice. They’ll be tested by the defending champs.
Saturday, Dec. 21
Capital District at CBA: There really isn’t a true “home” team in this contest, as the two squads share the Albany County Hockey Training Facility. However, there are bragging rights involved. This will also be a measuring stick for the Jets, who are looking to establish themselves as a formidable league opponent.