SCHENECTADY — Bethlehem won its third consecutive Section II title on Tuesday, March 3 by beating Saratoga 3-2.
Justin Chenaille had a hat trick for The Eagles — which ended the season atop the Capital District High School Hockey League with a 13-2 conference record and 21-2 overall — in front of a large, loud crowd at Union College’s Messa Rink.
“This is what we worked hard for all season long. It’s all my teammates,” Chenaille said after the game. “The game plan was simple, shoot it on net and crash the net. Credit my teammates. They shot the puck hard and they played hard all night long.”
Bethlehem took a 1-0 lead after the first period and extended it to 2-0 on Chenaille’s second goal of the night early in the second. Saratoga (11-4, 17-6) pulled within one with 90 second left in the second on a goal by Mack Ogden.
Chenaille, the CDHSHL’s Player of the Year, scored his third about three minutes into the third period to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead and with some five minutes to play, Saratoga pulled it’s goalie to give them an extra skater on offense. It paid off, and Saratoga pulled within one on an Andrew Blanchard goal with about 2:30 left in regulation.
The Eagles, though, anchored by goalie Mike Kurdziolek, withstood a flurry of activity in front of the net.
“There are things that will not happen again in your life and this is one of them,” said the CDHSHL Leading Goaltender who had 28 saves on Tuesday. “When this team gives its all we are unstoppable. We are the best team in the state and we can go all the way.”
Bethlehem will play Suffern, of Rockland County, on Saturday, at Union College. The re-match of last year’s regional game is slated to start at 4:15 p.m.
“It’s very special. We have a lot of leaders on the team and have been on this team for all three and they all know how hard we have to work and they worked hard all year and we pulled it off,” said Bethlehem coach Dylan Lappe of winning three in a row. “They never give up. They always have their head up, and they focus on the next shift and they never give up. They knew from the beginning everyone is out to beat us so we know we have to battle to the very end and we did.”