SCHENECTADY The Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks sit atop the Section II hockey world again.
Mike Layman registered two goals and an assist, and goaltender Ryan Bourgeois stopped 36 of the 37 shots he faced to lead top-seeded Saratoga past No. 2 Shenendehowa 5-1 in Thursday's Division I Sectional final at Union College's Messa Rink.
It's the third straight Sectional title for the Blue Streaks (17-6-0), who will host the North Country champion next Saturday for the Division I regional final.
"We worked so hard for the last three months," said Saratoga coach Dave Torres. "It's incredible."
"It's everything that I wanted a a senior, and to beat Shen makes it extra special," said Layman.
Shen (13-10-0) started slowly, but picked up the tempo after Saratoga took a 2-0 lead seven minutes into the game. Still, the Plainsmen had a difficult time getting anything past Bourgeois.
"We dealt with the nerves for a little longer than I thought we would," said Shen coach Juan de la Rocha. "But from the end of the first period on, I thought we played well."
Saratoga's power play unit put Shen in an early hole. Nick Winters jammed the puck past Shen goaltender Brian Walter to give the Blue Streaks a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the first period.
The next goal was all Layman. The senior forward picked up a loose puck to the side of the Shen goal, skated in and wristed a shot past Walter to make the score 2-0.
"That was the key because they thought they could stay in it, and we got them in an early hole and got them off of their game," said Layman.
Shen did stay in the game, though, thanks in part to Walter. The junior goaltender made four key saves during a second Saratoga power play later in the first period, which helped keep the deficit at two goals.