Tuesday, January 20, 2015

High School Hockey: Section 2's Final Quarter Look

The high school hockey season is starting to head into the final third of the season, which will feature mostly league games from here on out.  We're less than four weeks until the meeting to determine the seedings for the upcoming Section 2 tournament. 

Heading into this week's slate of games, Saratoga continues to lead the CDHSHL with 9 points, three more than three teams sitting behind them.  Shenendehowa is unbeaten in league play through four games. Glens Falls/Hudson Falls/South Glens Falls (henceforth known in this article as Tri-Falls) helped keep up with the pack with their win in the Stick Game.  And Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, who might be the league's hottest team right now, sports a 4-1 league record and a seven game win streak.

But with the bulk of the league games still to come, the Delvecchio Cup is still up for grabs.

Here's our thoughts about each team through the first 8 weeks of play.  For a list of this week's games, scroll down to the bottom.

Saratoga Springs - 8-4-2 overall, 5-1 league, 9 points
Key Wins/Ties: Suffern (W 3-2), Mamaroneck (T 2-2), Pelham (T 2-2)
Key Losses: Shenendehowa (4-2), Pittsford (8-3)

Remaining Schedule: La Salle, @Queensbury, @Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Shenendehowa, @La Salle, @Niskayuna/Schenectady

Thoughts: The Blue Streaks have always found ways to catch that extra spark they needed come late January and early February, but their road to the Delvecchio Cup is tough.  La Salle is still in the thick of the tight chase and Queensbury might give them some trouble before they face red-hot Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa.  It doesn't get any easier after that when they have to play Shenendehowa at Weibel, hoping to bounce back from December's 4-2 loss to the Plainsmen.

Shenendehowa - 8-5 overall, 4-0 league, 6 points
Key Wins/Ties: Mamaroneck (W 4-0), Saratoga (W 4-2), Pelham (W 5-3)
Key Losses: Scarsdale (6-5), Suffern (5-3), Pittsford (5-1)

Remaining Schedule: Queensbury, @Niskayuna/Schenectady, La Salle, @Saratoga, @Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, @CBA, @Bethlehem

Thoughts: If you think the Blue Streaks have a grueling final stretch, the Plainsmen have it worse.  Four straight road games, and like Saratoga, that game against Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa is going to be on the road.  Yes, the Plainsmen have the win over the Blue Streaks earlier in the season, but last year's game at Weibel Avenue turned out to be nothing like the first go-around, with Saratoga cruising to a 5-1 win.  The Plainsmen are unbeaten in league play, but the core of their league schedule is still to come. 

Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa - 10-2 overall, 4-1 league, 6 points
Key Wins/Ties: Lake Placid (W 2-1), Mount Everett (MA) (W 2-1)
Key Losses: Tri-Falls (6-5), Franklin Academy (3-2)

Remaining Schedule: @La Salle, Guilderland, @Shaker/Colonie, Saratoga, @CBA, Shenendehowa, @Bethlehem, CBA

Thoughts: If there's a team that could throw a wrench into the yearly sectional meeting between Shenendehowa and Saratoga, it could be Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa.  They won the CBA Tournament earlier in the season with a 2-1 win over Massachusetts's Mount Everett, which is their only loss of the season to date.  

Tri-Falls - 7-8 overall, 3-2 league, 6 points
Key Wins/Ties: Burnt Hills (W 6-5), Rome Free Academy (W 2-1)
Key Losses: Saratoga (7-3), Shenendehowa (6-2), Mamoroneck (4-3), Beekmantown (4-0), Plattsburgh (4-2)

Remaining Schedule: Guilderland, CBA, Bethlehem, Shaker/Colonie, @La Salle

Thoughts: If Tri-Falls has one thing going for them, is that they already have played the top three teams above them, and won't have to face them for the rest of the season.  With all teams below them remaining, sweeping their remaining five games is very feasible for the Rivermen.  Come tournament time, though, the Rivermen will need to step it up, as their multi-goal losses to Saratoga and Shenendehowa will make the Rivermen an underdog to be Sectional Champions.

La Salle - 6-6 overall, 4-2 league, 5 points
Key Wins/Ties: None
Key Losses: Beekmantown (8-1), Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa (3-2), Beekmantown (9-3)

Remaining Schedule: @Saratoga, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Bethlehem, @Shenendehowa, Queensbury, Saratoga, Tri-Falls, @Niskayuna/Schenectady

Thoughts: I should clarify something... when I talk about key wins/ties, these are victories or ties against teams that are doing well this season.  When it comes to La Salle, they have wins, but it's against teams with worse records/standings than where they are.  And it doesn't get any easier for the Cadets, who still have to face Saratoga twice, Shenendehowa once, and Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa once as well in the eight games they have remaining on their schedule.  This could leave the Cadets very vulnerable when it comes to playoff seeding.

Bethlehem - 3-8 overall, 3-4 league, 4 points
Key Wins/Ties: None
Key Losses: Mamoroneck (3-0), Beekmantown (5-2), Saratoga (5-0), Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa (6-4)

Remaining Schedule: CBA, @La Salle, Queensbury, @Tri-Falls, Niskayuna/Schenectady, Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills

Thoughts: Bethlehem's got some winnable games left on their schedule, which isn't as nasty as La Salle's final stretch will be.  The Eagles will want to win as many of these as they can to give them enough points so that Shenendehowa and Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa to wrap up the regular season won't force them into a early round showdown with a top seed, or worse yet, a play-in #8 vs. #9 game.

Niskayuna/Schenectady - 4-9 overall, 2-3 league, 2 points
Key Wins/Ties: None
Key Losses: Beekmantown (1-0), Plattsburgh (4-3), Burnt Hills (5-4), Saratoga (6-4), Beekmantown (4-1)

Remaining Schedule: Shenendehowa, CBA, @Shaker/Colonie, @Bethlehem, Saratoga, @Queensbury, La Salle

Thoughts: With the exception of that last game against Beekmantown, most of Niskayuna/Schenectady's losses against good opponents have been tight.  They've been games that have come down to the final minute.  This could result in the Mohawks being a dark horse, one to have to watch for a potential upset come tournament time.  How they fare against teams like Shenendehowa and Saratoga will speak volume towards this team's potential.

Queensbury - 4-10 overall, 1-3 league, 2 points
Key Wins/Ties: Plattsburgh (W 3-2)
Key Losses: Beekmantown (5-2), Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa (3-2)

Remaining Schedule: @Shenendehowa, Saratoga, @Bethlehem, @La Salle, @Shaker/Colonie, Niskayuna/Schenectady

Thoughts: As the lone Division 2 team in Section 2 again this year, Queensbury's season is guaranteed to continue after February 13th's finale against Niskayuna/Schenectady.  That doesn't mean the Spartans want to take these six remaining games without any fight.  The Spartans showed some fight with a key win over Plattsburgh, which has helped them win three of four games.  The next two are tough, with Shen and Saratoga, but a good effort could spark the Spartans for a potential upset when they face the Section 7 champion up in possibly Plattsburgh come March.

Shaker/Colonie - 1-9-2 overall, 1-5 league, 1 point
Key Wins/Ties: None
Key Losses: Mamaroneck (5-0), Saratoga (4-1), Plattsburgh (8-1), Shenendehowa (3-1)

Remaining Schedule: @Guilderland, CBA, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Niskayuna/Schenectady, @Tri-Falls, vs. Middlebury (at Lake Placid), @Lake Placid, Queensbury

Thoughts: The Jets could use a key win or two as we get closer to sectionals, as right now they're in a position where they could have to travel to Bethlehem for the 8/9 play-in game.  Their only league point comes thanks to a 6-3 win over CBA back in December

CBA - 3-9 overall, 0-7 league, 0 points
Key Wins/Ties: None
Key Losses: Saratoga (11-0), Mt. Everett (MA) (3-1), Shenendehowa (9-0)

Remaining Schedule: @Bethlehem, @Shaker/Colonie, @Tri-Falls, @Niskayuna/Schenectady, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Shenendehowa, vs. Taconic/Pittsfield (MA) at RPI, @Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa

Thoughts: The Brothers have opportunities to get themselves out of the hole that will force them into the play-in game at Bethlehem, but they are going to need some better organized hockey.  They've yet to defeat a league opponent as the two games against Guilderland this year do not count as league games.

Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville - 0-5 overall, not participating in the league and is playing an independent schedule made up of some Section 2 opponents mixed with other opponents across New York State.

Wednesday, January 21st:
La Salle at Saratoga - 6:45 PM
CBA at Bethlehem - 7:00 PM

Thursday, January 22nd:
Guilderland at Tri-Falls - 7:40 PM - on FOX Sports Radio 1230

Friday, January 23rd:
Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa at La Salle - 7:00 PM
Queensbury at Shenendehowa - 8:00 PM
Shaker/Colonie at Guilderland - 8:00 PM

Saturday, January 24th:
CBA at Shaker/Colonie - 5:45 PM
Shenendehowa at Niskayuna/Schenectady - 6:45 PM
Guilderland at Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa - 7:30 PM

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