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Section 2 Hockey Semi-Finals Preview

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The quarterfinals have been completed, and now we look ahead to the semi’s.

#2 Shen Plainsmen (11-9-1) vs #6 CBA Brothers (10-10-1), February 25th, 4:00 PM

If I said before the season began that this would be one of the semifinal matchups, I don’t think anyone would believe me. Shen started off the season poorly, but recovered in league play and actually ended up earning the #2 seed. They defeated #7 Shaker/Colonie in the quarterfinals. CBA went 7-6-0 in league play and finished with the #6 seed, and went on to upset #3 Bethlehem in the quarterfinals. It was the second consecutive season that Bethlehem has been upset at home by a lower-seeded team.

Shen got here by beating Shaker/Colonie 2-0 in the first round. It was a pretty lackadaisical game, and both teams struggled to move the puck. The Plainsmen, offensively, are led by senior forward Hayden Haldane, with 23 points. 18 of those are goals, so that right away tells you that he’s a shoot-first player. They don’t score a ton of goals, with 60 total on the year, which is tied for 6th in the league. Other than Haldane, their second best scorer is sophomore Brennan Alheim, who has 9 goals and 9 assists. Forwards Forrest Marson and Dylan Infantino also contribute up front. Defensively, their best blue-liner is junior Tom Relyea, who ranks 5th on the team in points. They see minutes from Joe Nelson, Adam Doescher, Chris Lasher, and Bobby Volk. So, with a team that doesn’t score a ton, that means they have to be good at preventing goals. Senior goalie Jared Vandeloo has posted a 2.78 goals against average and a .903 save percentage, the latter of which ranks 5th in the league.

CBA got here by pulling off a 3-1 upset over Bethlehem. They, just like Shen, have scored only 60 goals this season. They’re led by sophomore forward Hunter Pemrick, with 24 points. They also get contributions from guys like Andrew Mesick (20 pts), Mike DeNisco (14 pts), and Peter Galica (13 pts). Jake Bundy is their best blueliner, and he’s backed by Jake Manion, Dale Hammond, and Josh Edmunds. Goalie Brandon Mohrhoff was, in all honesty, the reason they beat Bethlehem, making 46 saves. He’s posted a 3.67 goals against average and a .891 save percentage this season.

The favorite in this matchup is probably Shen. They beat CBA 4-3 in overtime in the regular season, on the Plainsmen’s senior night. However, on Saturday they won’t have that home-ice advantage, as the semifinal games are to be played at Union College. It should be an interesting game, because both offenses can produce goals, but aren’t necessarily elite. Both goalies are good when playing on top of their game. It should be interesting to see which direction this game goes in, and if their regular season meeting is any indication, it should be a good one.

#1 La Salle Cadets (17-2-2) vs #4 Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa Spartans (11-8-2), February 25th, 7:00 PM

Here’s another interesting one. La Salle rolled through most of the regular season, stumbling only on the road to Shen and at home to Bethlehem. BHBS struggled through the middle of the season, and has lost a couple games that they probably should have won.

La Salle got here following a 4-0 win over the #9 seed GMSVS Storm. They’re led by senior captain Logan DiScanio, who is second in the league with 57 points. He’s backed by a good group of forwards that includes senior Kevin Mainello (43 pts), and juniors Ryan Murray (27 pts) and Tom Ryan (26 pts). Sam Mulson and Christian Rudd also contribute on that end of the ice. Defensively, they’re not as strong as their group of forwards, but they’re still solid, with Jack O’Bryan, Chris Ryan, Sebastian Geiger, Trevor Carpenter, and Matt Luke. They only have 5 defensemen on the roster, which doesn’t leave them with a lot of wiggle room. Goalie Zac Rentz has been excellent, however, with a 1.90 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.

Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa got here with a 3-2 win over #5 seed Saratoga in the quarterfinals, their third win against the Blue Streaks this season. They’re led by senior forwards Geordan Buffoline (48 pts) and Alec Lind (38 pts). Senior captain Nick Koszelak has also been terrific, with 27 points. He scored the game-winner against Saratoga with under 2 minutes to go. They have a good top pair of defensemen, with junior Sam Swingruber and senior Henry Koch. Swingruber leads all defensemen in Section 2 in points, with 30. In goal, Trevin Tidmarsh has had his ups and downs, but he played well against Saratoga, and he’s good when he’s on his game.

This should be a good game. La Salle swept the regular season series, winning by scores of 5-4 and 5-2. The first game was maybe the best game in Section 2 in the regular season, and featured a lot of great action from both sides. The Cadets pulled away late to win in the second meeting, which the Spartans were forced to play in without their captain Nick Koszelak, who was serving a 2-game suspension. Either way, it should be another great game, and will conclude a great day of action at Union on Saturday.