By ROB JONAS
If the Shenendehowa hockey team has any hopes of contending for a high seed in the Section 2 playoffs, it will need a win Friday at No. 5 Bethlehem.
The Plainsmen (3-4-0 league, 6-5-0 overall) enter this weekend in a three-way tie with Adirondack and Queensbury for fourth place in the Capital District High School Hockey League standings with six points. However, Adirondack (4-3-0, 5-5-1) already has a victory over Shen – as does Saratoga Springs (5-2-0, 8-4-0), which currently sits in third place with eight points. Shen has to vault over both of those teams in order to have a shot at a top-three seed for the Division I standings, and seven league games to get there. Fortunately for the Plainsmen, two of those games are rematches with Adirondack and Saratoga.
Shen regained some much-needed momentum with a 4-0 victory over Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa Jan. 10. Tyler Sullivan led a balanced attack with a goal and two assists, and goaltender John Sassone stopped BH/BS’s high powered offense with a 26-save performance.
Shen may have difficulty pulling off the same feat at Bethlehem Friday. The Eagles (6-1-0, 12-1-0) have the largest goals for/goals against differential in Section 2 (65/19). They own an eight-game winning streak, including a 5-3 victory over LaSalle Wednesday. Three Eagles are among the top six point scorers in the CDHSHL – Jackson Carroll (16-17-33), Justin Chenaille (12-16-28) and William Bievenue (7-11-18). And, goaltender Michael Kurdziolek leads the league in goals against average (1.50) and save percentage (.950). Shen would need a big effort at both ends of the ice in a hostile environment at the Bethlehem Area YMCA to get the victory.
Elsewhere in the CDHSHL Friday, Christian Brothers Academy (3-1-1, 6-3-2) travels to the Schenectady County Recreational Facility in Glenville to face BH/BS (3-2-0, 8-3-0). CBA hasn’t played since suffering a 3-2 loss to Saratoga Jan. 11, while BH/BS bounced back from being shut out by Shen with a 9-1 victory over the Capital District Jets last weekend. Two standings points are up for grabs, which would help one of these teams make a big move. The other league game features Adirondack at Albany Academy (1-5-1, 3-7-1).
Three more CDHSHL games are on tap for Saturday – BH/BS at Albany Academy, CBA hosting Queensbury (4-2-0, 6-3-1) and the Capital District Jets (0-7-0, 1-9-0) at LaSalle (1-5-0, 3-9-0). The Jets’ lone victory was a 6-3 non-league win against LaSalle Dec. 14.
NO LET UP IN THE STORM
For all of Bethlehem’s success this season, it is not currently in first place. That distinction belongs to the GMSSV Storm (6-0-0, 7-3-0), who edged Queensbury 2-1 in overtime Wednesday, Jan. 15, to take over the league lead with 10 points.
Wednesday’s victory was another landmark for the blended, five-school program from Guilderland, Mohonasen, Schalmont, Scotia-Glenville and Voorheesville. By beating Queensbury, the Storm have reached the six-win plateau in the league for the first time. They also have one of the stingiest defenses in the CDHSHL, having allowed only 18 goals in 10 games. Their offense is still not producing a lot of points (28 goals), but their defense is giving them chances to win almost every night.
The Storm are off until Jan. 24, when they will get their shot at Bethlehem.