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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.

“We were too slow to get back on our back check in that period, and we were stepping up and pinching (at the blue line) when we shouldn’t have been,” said de la Rocha.

Shen got one goal back early in the third period when Dave Hunter scored off a rebound. Bethlehem goaltender Kevin Cooley made the initial save on Ryan Mortka’s shot, but he couldn’t cover the loose puck at the right post before Hunter charged in and lifted it over Cooley’s shoulder.

That was the last goal Cooley allowed. The senior stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the third period to seal Bethlehem’s victory.

“He gave up two goals, but he had a lot of saves,” Rodrigue said of Cooley, who stopped 27 shots. “Knowing you have a quality goaltender back there, you can take some chances with the puck.”

“We had plenty of clean shots. We just couldn’t jam them home,” said de la Rocha.

Bethlehem will attempt to end a two-game winless streak against CBA when the two teams meet in Wednesday’s quarterfinal game at the Bethlehem Area YMCA. The Brothers defeated the Eagles in last year’s quarterfinal round, and Bethlehem rallied to tie CBA 3-3 Feb. 1 at home.

“We’ve been waiting a whole year for this (playoff) game,” said Rodrigue.

Shen will meet the winner of Monday’s opening-round game between Niskayuna/Schenectady and Guilderland/Mohonasen in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round at the Clifton Park Arena.

“We’ve got to start finding the back of the net a little more,” said de la Rocha. “The last three games, we haven’t been getting a lot of offense. We’ve scored four goals in the last three games.”

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