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Hockey: Bethlehem hangs on for victory

Three-goal second period helps Eagles defeat Mamaroneck at tourney

Bethlehem’s Wyatt Grace, left, battles Mamaroneck’s Trey Herlitz-Ferguson during Friday’s opening round of the Shaker/Colonie Thanksgiving Tournament at the Albany County Hockey Facility.

Bethlehem’s Wyatt Grace, left, battles Mamaroneck’s Trey Herlitz-Ferguson during Friday’s opening round of the Shaker/Colonie Thanksgiving Tournament at the Albany County Hockey Facility. Photo by Rob Jonas.

The Bethlehem hockey team had something to prove to Mamaroneck when the two squads met in Friday's opening round of the Shaker/Colonie Thanksgiving Tournament.

The Eagles scored three times in the second period and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Tigers at the Albany County Hockey Facility in Colonie.

Bethlehem lost to Mamaroneck 12-1 at the same tournament one year ago, and they hadn't forgotten about it since.

"It meant a lot to these guys," said Bethlehem coach Andre Rodrigue. "We had 12 reasons to beat them this year because they beat us 12-1 last year."

Bethlehem grabbed a 2-0 lead at the start of the second period with two goals in 10 seconds. First, Sam Vincent tallied on the power play off a feed from Nicholas Parente 55 seconds into the frame. Then off Cameron Shepardson's face-off win, Chris Caswell passed the puck ahead to Andrew Carroll, who flicked a shot past Mamaroneck goaltener Bret Poniros to give Bethlehem a two-goal cushion.

"We knew it was important to come out focused in the second period," said Rodrigue. "We had such a good first period, and we didn't want to get out-worked."

The Eagles' power play struck again at 6:16 of the second period. This time, Vincent passed the puck on to John Gosstola, and Gosstola finished it with a goal to make the score 3-0.

"We wanted to keep the pressure on them," said Rodrigue. "We had great special teams play all night."

Mamaroneck started applying some offensive pressure late in the second period and turned its play up a notch in the third period, but Bethlehem freshman goaltender Zach Sanchez was up to the task. Sanchez made several key saves and carried the shutout past the midpoint of the third period before the Tigers got late goals from Chris Leblanc and Nick Spano to make it close.

"They started playing more physical, and they tried to ring our bell a little bit," said Rodrigue. "But our guys stayed focused and played our game, and that's the most important thing."

Sanchez finished with 26 saves in his varsity debut for Bethlehem.

"I wanted to put him in a big game situation early in the season, and he played phenomenally," said Rodrigue.

Bethlehem meets Shaker/Colonie in Saturday's tournament final at the ACHF. Shaker/Colonie needed an overtime shootout to defeat Christian Brothers Academy 5-4 in Friday's other opening round game.

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