For years, Saratoga hockey has dominated Section 2. They’ve won 5 of the last 6 sectional titles, including the last 2. However, this season there will be a new champion, as the Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa hockey team eliminated Saratoga in the Section 2 quarterfinals by a score of 3-2 on Saturday night.
At the tightly packed Schenectady County Recreational Facility, BHBS got off to a good start in the first period, controlling play. They broke through with 5 minutes left in the frame when senior forward Geordan Buffoline forced home a wrister in close on Saratoga goalie Drew Rafferty. Shots were 13-6 in favor of the Spartans at the end of the frame.
In the second period, things got more interesting. A few bad penalties taken by BHBS early gave the Blue Streaks some life, and they tied it up on a goal from senior Jonathan Luse, right after the Saratoga power-play expired. The period was pretty evenly played, but Saratoga had the momentum going their way, and senior captain Eric Jess got a puck to trickle across the goal line past BHBS goalie Trevin Tidmarsh, giving the Streaks a 2-1 lead. The goal came less than 2 minutes after Luse’s equalizer.
Entering the third period, there was a tense energy in the rink, packed full of the hometown fans. Saratoga played somewhat conservatively, trying to preserve the lead, and BHBS was careful as well, knowing one mistake could spell doom for them. The Spartans came out firing, and after killing off a penalty, Gianni Pleminik finished off a good feed from Buffoline to tie the game up with 7 minutes remaining. The rink was rocking, and showed off the great atmosphere of playoff hockey. Both teams had a few good chances, but it seemed like nobody could break through. However, with just under 2 minutes to go, senior captain Nick Koszelak slotted a wrist shot past Rafferty to give BHBS a 3-2 lead. They would hold on for the win, surviving a decent final attack by the Blue Streaks with the extra attacker due to the empty net.
For Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa (11-8-2), they advance to the Section 2 semi-finals to face off against the La Salle Cadets (17-2-2) on Saturday at 7:00 PM at Union College. For Saratoga (8-13-0), their season is over. It is the first time since the 2006-07 season that the Blue Streaks failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs. For BHBS, they entered this season without ever beating Saratoga in the team’s short 6-year history. They defeated them 3 times this season alone, sweeping them with wins of 4-2 and 5-2 in the regular season, and then topped it off by eliminating the team that eliminated them the last two seasons, in the championship game two seasons ago, and in the semifinals last season.
(5:01) BHBS- Geordan Buffoline (19) ASST: Alec Lind (22), Nick Koszelak (14)
(11:05) TOGA- Jonathan Luse (17) ASST: Ryan Robens (5)
(9:41) TOGA- Eric Jess (5) ASST: Matt Shamberger (8)
(7:00) BHBS- Gianni Pleminik (5) ASST: Geordan Buffoline (29), Alec Lind (23)
(1:53) BHBS- Nick Koszelak (13) ASST: None
Saratoga: Drew Rafferty 43-46, .934%
BHBS: Trevin Tidmarsh 26-28, .928%