Saturday, December 10, 2016

High school hockey: Tri-Falls @ LaSalle, 12/10/16

In sports, regardless of level, everything runs in cycles. A team can be on top of the heap one year, then plunge from the penthouse to the basement the next.

Never is this more evident than in high school hockey.

Take for example Shenendehowa, which has one of the most elite overall programs in New York. However, after hockey coach Juan de la Rocha resigned following the 2014-15 season, the Plainsmen have moved down to the middle of the pack in the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL), and lost back-to-back road games within the last 24 hours.

In sharp contrast would be the skating Cadets of LaSalle Institute. Coach Tim Flanigan's club had gotten off to slow starts the last two seasons, only to finish strong enough to advance to post-season play. At the rate things are going now, they may not need a play-in game come mid-February.

Entering play tonight, LaSalle had completed a season opening 4 game road trip by demolishing Queensbury, 12-3, on Wednesday night, running their record to 2-0-2. Playing for the first time on their home rink at Hudson Valley Community College, the Cadets were greeted by a larger than usual student section. That's what winning will do. It gets more people interested, although certain corners of the local press still treat the Cadets like the late Rodney Dangerfield, giving them no respect. In fact, the hometown paper didn't include tonight's game on their local sports schedule in today's editions. Whose fault that might be, I cannot be certain.

Digression over. Tri-Falls took an early 1-0 lead in the first period on a power play goal by Jared Thomas as the Rivermen enjoyed a 2-man advantage. A few minutes later, Thomas lit the lamp again, whizzing a one-timer past goaltender Zach Rentz. With a little more than a minute left, senior forward Logan DiScanio put the Cadets on the board, then tied the game in the 2nd period with a one-timer of his own.

That first goal by DiScanio woke up the Cadets from an early game slumber. The defense tightened, as Thomas and the Rivermen were shut down the rest of the way. Jack O'Bryan broke the tie late in the 2nd period, putting LaSalle in front to stay. DiScanio completed a hat trick, and Sam Mulson, and Mike Baker added insurance goals in the 3rd, and LaSalle ran their unbeaten streak to 5 in a row (3-0-2) with a 6-2 win. Tri-Falls will host the return match on February 8.

Perhaps fittingly, LaSalle hosts Shen on December 14. Even though the Plainsmen are 1-0 in league play, they have struggled outside the league. Still, this will be a litmus test for LaSalle, to see just how far they've really come.

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