Bethlehem, La Salle advance to Section II hockey championship

SCHENECTADY — Bids to the Section 2 hockey final were clinched on Sunday afternoon at Union College, with the two semifinals being played. The first featured Bethlehem and CBA, while the second was a tilt between Shaker/Colonie and La Salle.

In the first game, Bethlehem scored three goals in under 10 minutes, including two in 21 seconds as they took down CBA 3-2.

The Brothers led 1-0 entering the second period, but Bethlehem captain Tyler Liebold took over, finding the back of the net twice in the first 35 seconds of the second, allowing Bethlehem to jump out to a 2-1 lead.

“The first period, we just came out kind of slow. We came back into the locker room and coach (Dylan Lappe) talked to us, a few of the leaders on our team talked to us. We just came out stronger and with a new passion to win,” Liebold said.

Bethlehem added another goal off the stick of Michael Bievenue at 9:46 elapsed in the second period, putting them up 3-1. CBA then answered with a score less than a minute later from Ryan Dollar, making it 3-2.

Come the third period, CBA put on a major attack as they outshot Bethlehem 16-7 in the third, but they were all stopped by Bethlehem goaltender Alex Breiner, who finished 33/35 on the night.

“All year long he’s been coming up. This game was just a test of how great he is and he worked hard and he proved that he’s still the best goalie in the section,” Bethlehem head coach Dylan Lappe said.

Bethlehem now advances to the sectional final at the Division 1 level for the first time in program history.

The second game of the night was a wild one, pitting Shaker/Colonie and La Salle in what turned into an offensive showcase, ending with the Cadets earning a 6-5 win in overtime.

The game was tied at two at the end of the first period, a sign of things to come later on. La Salle’s Tom Ryan scored two goals in under two minutes during the second, putting La Salle on top 4-2.

Shaker/Colonie answered in the final minutes of the period as Scott Matson scored to make it 4-3, which was the score at the end of two periods.

Just 36 seconds into the third, the Jets tied the game up at four as Joe Molloy found the back of the net which was his second goal of the night and made it seem like the glass slipper was going to fit once again as it did on Wednesday when they upset #3 seeded Shenendehowa in the quarterfinals.

At 11:14 elapsed in the third period, Shaker/Colonie took the lead as Tyler Wilson lit the lamp, getting the puck past La Salle goaltender Casey Boone. The Jets held a 5-4 lead and seemingly all the momentum in the final minutes of the night.

Then, Taylor Nitz came up with the Cadets’ biggest goal of the year with 44 seconds remaining in regulation as he snuck past Shaker/Colonie goalie Dan Molloy to tie the game at five and eventually send it to overtime.

The teams went back-and-forth in the extra session until Jack O’Bryan took a shot at the net. The puck deflected off the stick of Sam Brandese and got into the net, giving La Salle an improbable victory and a chance to defend their Section 2 title.

“Puck came into the zone, (Erik Zimmerman) came in with a great check which bounced the puck out, put it to the point. Passed across to Jack O’Bryan, he shot it and I was fortunate enough to be in front of the net for the tip,” Brandese said.

“There was a lot of hard work out there, very pleased with the way we fought back,” La Salle coach Tim Flanigan said.

Bethlehem and La Salle will now meet for a chance to win the Section 2 championship. They will meet on the ice at Union on Tuesday for that game. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

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