Shen, Saratoga set for Sectional final

Relentless pressure paid off for the Saratoga Springs hockey team.

The Blue Streaks made good on six of their 31 shots to defeat Bethlehem 6-4 in Saturday's Section II Division I semifinal game at Saratoga's Weibel Avenue Rink.

Bethlehem stayed in the game thanks to its accuracy (four goals on 12 shots) and goaltender Patrick Miron, who made 25 saves.

I think they played an outstanding game, said Saratoga coach Mike Ricupero. "They got pucks on net, and obviously our goaltenders didn't play their best game."

"I'm extremely proud of these guys," said Bethlehem coach Andre Rodrigue. "Any time you have to play the defending Section II champs on the road, that's a tough road."

What Bethlehem couldn't do was clear the puck out of its defensive zone on a consistent basis. Saratoga kept control of the puck for much of the first and third periods, which led to one too many scoring chances for the Eagles to handle.

"It's frustrating, and it's draining," said Rodrigue. "It tires the kids out when they are bottled up in the defensive zone."

Saratoga's greatest success in shooting the puck past Miron was on rebounds at close range. Half of the Blue Streaks' six goals were the result of forwards jamming home loose pucks in front of the net following initial shots.

"They didn't really beat Pat [Miron] on first shots," said Rodrigue.

The first such Saratoga goal came 4:07 into the first period when Jimmy Murray stuffed in Alex Luse's initial shot for a 1-0 Blue Streaks lead.

Bethlehem stayed bottled up in its half of the ice until late in the first period when Saratoga's Tom Naples was called for a tripping penalty. The ensuing face-off came in Saratoga's defensive zone, and 10 seconds later Steven Sanchez scored on a rebound to tie the game at 1.

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