Plainsmen clinch league hockey title, 4-2

Adam Hitchko falls short of a record, but Shenendehowa wraps up the Capital District High School Hoc

Adam Hitchko had scored 85 goals in his high school career entering Tuesday night’s game.

Rank No. 86 among the more memorable ones.

Hitchko ripped a shot from just inside the blue line to break a 2-2 tie, and his Shenendehowa Plainsmen clinched their third consecutive Capital District High School Hockey League Division I regular-season title with a 4-2 win over Guilderland at Messa Rink at Union College.

In extending their unbeaten streak to 21 games, the Plainsmen locked up the Delvecchio Cup as regular-season champions, and will get the No. 1 seed for the Section II Division I playoffs. Shen has won the regular-season crown in five of the past six seasons. The Plainsmen have also won the previous five sectional titles.

Hitchko is one goal shy of tying Shen’s record of 87 career goals, set by Mike Rosa from 1990 to 1994.

While Hitchko provided the game-winner, the Plainsmen rode the play of senior goalie Nathan Mellow, who made 23 saves, and even lost his helmet at one point — “He saw a couple of green jerseys around him, so he felt comfortable enough,” Shen captain Bryan Hunter said with a smile.

“My defense was making it easy for me to see the shots,” Mellow said. “That helped a lot.”

Hunter and Jesse Elliott each scored a goal and added two assists for the Plainsmen, who improved to 12-0-1 with 21.5 points in the CDHSHL, 18-1-3 overall.

Aaron Cahill scored and added an assist for Guilderland (10-3-0 with 16 points in the CDHSHL,

10-9-1 overall).

Hitchko wasn’t even sure his game-winner went in. With Shen on its fourth power play with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, Hitchko took one stride across the blue line, leaned and blasted a shot off the right post and past Dutchmen goalie Brendan Glennon. The puck produced a “ping” loud enough to confuse even Hitchko.

“I thought I got all of it, but it might have been on its side,” Hitchko said. “I actually didn’t think it went in. I kept skating down, and I went toward the net to go for the rebound, and I saw it hit the back of the net.”

“To be honest with you, I don’t think he got all of it,” Shen coach Juan de la Rocha said. “He can shoot the puck. When I say he didn’t get all of it, I mean that. He can really get a hold of that puck if he’s set up for it.”

Though Shen took a 2-0 lead after two periods on goals from Hunter and A.J. Mangino, Mellow’s 15 saves through the first 30 minutes kept Guilderland at bay.

The Dutchmen came back in the third, though, scoring two power-play goals in the span of 63 seconds after Shen took three consecutive penalties. Aaron Cahill started it with an unassisted marker from in front of the goal 3:20 into the final period. Then, Guilderland needed only 11 seconds of skating five-on-three to tie it when Greg Warnken sent a pass from behind the net to Dan Dickinson, who buried it from the slot.

But that was the only blemish on Mellow’s record. Less than 1:30 before Cahill’s goal, Mellow stopped Cahill on a brief short-handed breakaway with a kick save. And 42 seconds after the game-tying goal, Mellow leapt with his arms in front of him at a Dutchmen blast, then, while scrambling on his belly managed to get a leg on the loose puck to stop play, and then lost his helmet.

“He was outstanding,” de la

Rocha said. “He was our player of the game, our unsung hero. He made a lot of key saves. That’s the way we need our goaltenders to be, going into the playoffs. He was in playoff form tonight, without a doubt.”

Hunter’s empty-netter with 22.2 seconds remaining sealed it for Shenendehowa.

“We can’t get too comfortable with this division championship,” Hunter said. “It’s something you cherish and look back on down the road, but for us, our goals are set very high.”

Shenendehowa 1 1 2 — 4

Guilderland 0 0 2 — 2

First period — 1, Shenendehowa, B. Hunter 16 (Pacheco, K. Hunter), 11:58.

Second period — 2, Shenendehowa, Mangino 13 (B. Hunter, Elliott), 4:16

Third period — 3, Guilderland, Cahill 11 (unassisted), 3:20 (pp). 4, Guilderland, Dickinson 8 (Warnken, Cahill), 4:23 (pp). 5, Shenendehowa, Hitchko 24 (Elliott, B. Hunter), 11:10 (pp). 6, Shenendehowa, Elliott 19 (Mangino), 14:37 (en).

Shots on goal — Shenendehowa 6-12-16 — 34. Guilderland 6-9-10 — 25.

Power-play opportunities — Shenendehowa 1 of 4; Guilderland 2 of 6.

Goalies — Shenendehowa, Mellow 13-1-1 (25 shots-23 saves). Guilderland, Glennon 9-8-1 (33-30).

Categories: Sports

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