Not even the Albany County Hockey Facility's vast, Olympic-size ice surface could stop the Bethlehem Eagles.
It slowed the Eagles down, but it didn't stop them.
Eric Halek broke a scoreless tie in the third period, and goaltender Alex Cooper made 39 saves to lead Bethlehem to a 2-0 Capital District High School Hockey League victory over Christian Brothers Academy last Saturday in Colonie.
Quality scoring chances were hard to come by in the first two periods for Bethlehem (12-2-1), as the Eagles adjusted to the large ice surface and CBA's relentless pressure.
They played us really tight for the first two periods, said Bethlehem coach Andre Rodrigue. "We had a hard time getting our offense in gear. Once we got on the [score]board, everybody settled down. But there wasn't a minute where we didn't feel confident in what we were doing."
Even after Halek scored, CBA (4-10-0) refused to go away. The Brothers kept peppering Cooper with shots, but the senior made all the necessary stops to preserve the lead until Stephen Russo sealed the victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
"He definitely was the difference maker in that game," Rodrigue said of Cooper, who lowered his league-leading goals against average to 1.76. "It's offensive security knowing that Cooper is back there to bail us out. He's the backbone of that defense."
The victory against CBA gave Bethlehem a three-point lead over second-place Glens Falls in the Division II standings with two weeks left in the regular season.
"Since Day 1, we set a goal, and that goal was to get a first-round bye," said Rodrigue. "With our win over CBA and our win over Queensbury [Jan. 19], we've all but assured ourselves of that first goal."
The Eagles could put even more distance between themselves and Glens Falls this week. Glens Falls faces Queensbury (9-7-0) Thursday and LaSalle (6-9-0) Friday, while Bethlehem hosts Niskayuna/Schenectady (4-12-1) Saturday.
In other hockey action last weekend, Guilderland (5-8-1) scored twice in the second period to pull out a 3-3 tie against Mahopac Sunday at Union College.
Ryan Ghizzoni had a goal and an assist, and goaltender Nigel Simmons stopped 21 shots for the Dutchmen. Conor Hurley and Robby King also tallied for Guilderland.
The Dutchmen entered the Mahopac game off a 9-1 loss to Division I-leading Saratoga Springs last Saturday. Cody Nizolek, Stephen Cash and Alex Luse each scored two goals for the Blue Streaks.
Guilderland hosted CBA Tuesday at Union College.""