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Hockey Sectionals: Shen reaches final with emphatic win

Plainsmen pull away from Shaker/Colonie to advance to finals

Shenendehowa’s Brandon Mortka (4) scores the first goal in last Friday’s Section II Division I semifinal game against Shaker/Colonie at the Clifton Park Arena. The Plainsmen pulled away for a 9-2 victory.

Shenendehowa’s Brandon Mortka (4) scores the first goal in last Friday’s Section II Division I semifinal game against Shaker/Colonie at the Clifton Park Arena. The Plainsmen pulled away for a 9-2 victory. Robert Goo

— What began as a competitive game quickly turned into a one-sided affair.

Shenendehowa jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period and pulled away for a 9-2 victory over Shaker/Colonie in Friday's Section II Division I semifinal game at the Clifton Park Arena.

The second-seeded Plainsmen (13-9-0) advance to next Thursday's Sectional final against No. 1 Saratoga Springs, which needed overtime to edge Christian Brothers Academy 3-2 in Friday's other semifinal game.

"It's going to be pretty emotional, I can tell you that," Shen coach Juan de la Rocha said of meeting the two-time defending Sectional champions for the third time this season. "I hope it will be a good game."

The first five minutes seemed to indicate the possibility of a shootout between the two teams. Brandon Mortka knocked home a loose rebound 1:01 into the game to give Shen a 1-0 lead, but Jordan Vetrone tallied 11 seconds later to tie the game at 1 for third-seeded Shaker/Colonie (9-11-2). The Plainsmen then regained the lead at the 3:10 mark when Brad Tardif collected a failed clearing attempt near the blue line and shot the puck past goaltender Kodi Riddell.

Shen seized control with one key sequence midway through the first period, though. Shaker/Colonie thought it scored the tying goal on a power play, but the referee waved it off and called for a face-off deep in Shen's defensive zone. Thirty-two seconds later, Tardif scored a short-handed goal to give the Plainsmen a 3-1 lead.

"That's the crucial part of the game," said de la Rocha. "They had the momentum, and we were able to get a goal."

Shen extended its lead to 4-1 with a bizarre short-handed goal. Kevin Miles cleared the puck to the other end of the ice, but Riddell had a hard time handling it when it arrived on goal. As Riddell scrambled to cover the loose puck, the referee pointed to signal a goal had been scored. Despite protests from the Jets bench, the goal stood.

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