Some people saw it coming, others didn’t. Either way, the Section 2 hockey semi-final matchups aren’t exactly the way most people predicted before the season.
The Tri-Falls Rivermen, a Glens Falls-South Glens Falls-Hudson Falls combination team, rolled into the Clifton Park Ice Arena on Wednesday night and dominated the 3-seed Shenendehowa Plainsmen with a 5-1 win. Many people saw this one coming, and many people expected Shen’s lack of offense all season long (42 goals, 9th out of 10 D1 teams) to catch up with them, and it did. Senior goalie Matt Chieco could only hold his team together for so long. The Section 2 Goalie of the Year carried the Plainsmen to wins most of the year, but on a night he needed some offense, he could not get it. It is the second straight disappointing exit for the Plainsmen, as last year they were big favorites in the semi-finals vs Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa but lost 3-2 in overtime. For the Rivermen, they pull off their first sectional win in Tri-Falls history. Five different players scored for the Rivermen, including sophomore forward Jared Thomas, who continues his incredible year, with 48 points on the season. Senior goalie Owen Johnston stopped 19 shots for a .950 save percentage, and his 9th win of the season.
In the other game on that side of the bracket, not many people saw this one coming. The 2-seed Bethlehem Eagles hosted the 7-seed La Salle Cadets, who had to win a play-in game vs Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville just to get into this game. The Cadets built an early 3-1 lead at the end of the first period, and never looked back. The Eagles got a goal back in the second to cut the lead to 3-2 after 2, but La Salle was able to pull away, using a 4-minute major penalty to score 2 goals and hang on for a 5-2 win. La Salle advances to play Tri-Falls, in a #6 vs #7 matchup that was highly unexpected. Junior Sam Mulson scored twice, and Zach Hurst looked like the Zach Hurst that won Section 2 Co-Player of the year last season, as he stopped 31 shots for the win.
On the other side of the bracket, there were no upsets, as 4-seed Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa took a 5-3 decision over 5-seed CBA, and 1-seed Saratoga took a 5-1 game over 8-seed Niskayuna/Schenectady. The upsets on the other side make the bracket heavily uneven, as two of the teams that finished in the bottom half of the league, and are both under .500 this season (Tri-Falls is 10-11-0, La Salle is 7-14-1) will play each other Saturday, with the winner advancing to the Section 2 Championship game at Union College. On the other side, the two teams with the best records in the league (Both 16-4-1) and with the best offenses in Section 2 by far (Saratoga with 106 goals, BHBS with 102) will meet with a chance to get to the championship game. BHBS enters the semi’s as the hottest team in the Section, currently riding a 10-game win streak, but Saratoga enters ranked top-10 in the state, and the favorite to win the title.
Either way, it will be sure to make for some interesting games this weekend.