Friday, February 16, 2018

High School Fridays: Section II hockey playoff preview

The annual meeting of the coaches in the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL) on Thursday was a mere formality, due to the simple fact that the pairings for the Section II hockey playoffs were finalized on Wednesday night. Queensbury, which finished second in the CDHSHL, is in Division 2, and thus advances directly to state tournament play---we think---starting in 2 weeks.

Tonight, there are two play-in games to slice the remaining field from 10 teams down to 8.

#7 Saratoga hosts #10 Gulderland-Mohonasen-Scotia-Glenville. That's the good news. The bad news? The winner has to go to Troy to play #2 LaSalle on Wednesday. The defending champs are staggering into the playoffs, having lost two of their last three, closing the regular season with a 4-1 loss to Queensbury on Tuesday. By the time they play again, Coach Tim Flanigan should have his team out of their lethargic, end-of-the-regular-season malaise.

#8 Adirondack plays host to #9 Niskayuna-Schenectady. Winner plays top-seeded Bethlehem, which went undefeated in league play.

Let's assume form holds tonight, and look at the pairings for the quarter-final round on Wednesday:

Adirondack @ Bethlehem.
Saratoga @ LaSalle. The Blue Streaks were swept by the Cadets in the regular season, but could the 3rd time be a charm?
Shaker-Colonie @ Shenendehowa.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa @ CBA. These two teams met on Monday, with the Brothers winning, 4-2.

Again, form should hold, but, as noted above, there's cause for concern with LaSalle, which won both of their meetings against Saratoga by identical 2-1 scores. If there's going to be an upset in this round, it's in this game. Shenendehowa will be waiting in the semi-finals, taking place February 25 at Union College. Figure CBA-Bethlehem as the other semi-final. It was the Eagles that eliminated CBA in last year's tournament, so, assuming they win their quarter-final, CBA will be looking for revenge.

My take: LaSalle recovers from their recent slump, and runs the table again to their 2nd straight Section II title.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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