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Hockey: Playoff landscape changes on final day

Bethlehem's win allows Saratoga to pass Shen for first place

Bethlehem's Nicholas Gosstola battles with Shenendehowa's Peter Russo during a Feb. 7 CDHSHL game at the Clifton Park Arena.

Bethlehem's Nicholas Gosstola battles with Shenendehowa's Peter Russo during a Feb. 7 CDHSHL game at the Clifton Park Arena. Photo by Rob Jonas.

One period altered the Section II Division I hockey playoff landscape.

Bethlehem scored three times in the second period and held on for a 3-2 victory over Shenendehowa in Thursday’s Capital District High School Hockey League game at the Clifton Park Arena.

The result, coupled with Saratoga’s 5-2 victory over Glens Falls, dropped Shen (10-3-1 league, 18,5 points) out of first place and the top seed. Saratoga (13-1-0, 20 points) overcame a 1.5-point deficit in the final week to pass the Plainsmen, though Shen coach Juan de la Rocha said there was little his team could have done to prevent that from happening.

“We weren’t in the driver’s seat in this one,” said de la Rocha. “If (Saratoga) won, it wouldn’t have mattered if we won or lost today.”

The result also moved Bethlehem (7-3-3, 14.5 points) into a tie for fourth place with Christian Brothers Academy. The Eagles received the No. 4 seed and a home playoff game against the Brothers (8-4-3, 14.5 points) based on a tiebreaker.

“It’s kind of déjà vu for us,” said Bethlehem coach Andre Rodrigue. “It’s the same 4-5 (playoff) match-up we had last year.”

Shen took a 1-0 lead on Brad Tardif’s goal late in the first period before the tide turned in the second period. Nicholas Gosstola tied the score 2:32 into the frame off a lead pass from Chris Caswell. Later in the period, Caswell had a shot deflect high off Shen goaltender Brian Walter’s stick and land inches over the goal line to put the Eagles ahead 2-1. R.J. Diego finished the outburst when he charged in alone on Walter and slammed one by him to give Bethlehem a 3-1 advantage.

“The three-goal outburst was directly credited to the hard work we did in the first period,” said Rodrigue. “Once we got that first goal, we started rolling.”

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