COLONIE The Shaker/Colonie hockey team made West Genesee work for its 4-0 non-league victory Saturday at the Albany County Hockey Facility.
The Jets (1-3-0 league, 5-6-0 overall) remained within striking distance of the state’s top-ranked Division I team until Ryan McDonald struck for two West Genesee goals in a 16-second stretch late in the third period.
“They’re very good and well coached,” said Shaker/Colonie coach Steve Hudak. “They’re very solid from front to back.”
West Genesee (13-0-0) was in the middle of a hectic two-week stretch of games when they arrived at the Albany County rink, and coach Frank Colabufo said the Olympic-sized ice sheet made it difficult for the Wildcats to play their usual game.
“We knew this rink would offer a challenge to us, and it did,” said Colabufo. “It affected our forecheck.”
Shaker/Colonie’s consistent aggressiveness and a strong effort from goaltender Zach Dignum (20 saves) also made it difficult for West Genesee to gain any momentum.
“We knew Shaker always competes real hard, so we knew they would battle and they did,” said Colabufo.
West Genesee got its first breakthrough late in the first period when Grainger Sasso unleashed a wrist shot that eluded Dignum on his stick side for a 1-0 lead. Nick Mellen then used a hard slapshot to get the puck past Dignum midway through the second period.
Shaker/Colonie generated a couple of scoring chances late in the second period, one of which glanced off the goal post. But those were the exception to the flow of the game, which generally favored West Genesee.
“Their goalie was good, and they did a very good job of blocking us out and preventing us from getting rebounds,” said Hudak.
Still, Shaker/Colonie shadowed West Genesee until the final three minutes of the game. That’s when McDonald tallied his two goals to double the Wildcats’ lead.
“You’re always concerned (with a small lead),” said Colabufo. “They have a couple of playmakers, and they made some nice plays out there.”
The loss to West Genesee was the only setback for Shaker/Colonie last week. The Jets knocked off Queensbury 7-2 last Wednesday to earn their first Capital District High School Hockey League win of the season, and then they shut out North Country power Lake Placid 3-0 Friday at home.
“I think we had a great week,” said Hudak. “Hopefully, we’ve turned the corner.”
Shaker/Colonie hosts CDHSHL rival LaSalle Friday at 4:45 p.m.