After allowing an early goal, all Graeme Bulmer could do was put it behind him and refocus on the remaining 43:24 of hockey.
The goaltender was unbeatable the rest of the way, and his Saratoga Springs teammates eventually gave him some goal support in their 3-1 Section II championship win over Shaker/Colonie Thursday night at Messa Rink.
“I was just trying to regroup,” Bulmer said. “It was a quick goal, the game just started and I just tried to put it behind me, to be honest. Trying to keep the rest of them out for the rest of the game was all I could do.”
The Blue Streaks (17-4-1) will advance to regional play against Section IV champion Ithaca on March 6.
The last time Saratoga Springs won the sectional title was in 2000.
“We knew what our record was in championships,” Bulmer said. “We just came to play, and we wanted to bring it home.”
The Jets’ goal came 1:36 into the contest, when a Saratoga Springs giveaway in its own zone wound up on the stick of Corey Brustle. Brustle fired the puck past Bulmer for a 1-0 lead.
“We came out flat,” Saratoga Springs defenseman Luke Fauler said. “I think that’s due, in part, to this being our first championship in a while. But we woke up. We knew what it was all about and we knew we wanted to win this one for everyone, especially our seniors.”
Bulmer is one of those seniors. He made 23 saves and got a little help from the post on two occasions.
“There were a lot of chances for them to score,” Saratoga Springs coach Mike Ricupero said. “One break here or there, and that’s the game. I thought we persevered, big-time, and Graeme did a fantastic job. He stood on his head a lot of the times, and got whistles and slowed the game down a little bit.”
He was especially tested in the first period when several giveaways put the Jets on two-on-one rushes.
The Jets missed a few opportunities on those rushes when the last pass was on the tape, but a lack of control robbed them of a shot.
“I think what we were doing is we were trying to force it,” Shaker/Colonie coach Steve Hudak said. “We’re on a two-on-one, and we’re passing to a guy’s backhand instead of shooting the puck and looking for a rebound. I think that comes with the crowd, being in sectionals, just not finishing.”
Fauler was the first Blue Streak to find the net behind Shaker/Colonie goalie Jim Lanne. At the 10:44 mark of the second period, Saratoga’s Stephen Cash had the puck on the left side behind the net and found Fauler at the left circle for a five-hole goal to even the score.
At the 12:30 mark, Mike Regan had the puck at the goal line on the right side and fed a streaking Dan Going, who finished past Lanne at the near right post.
The Jets continued to pressure Bulmer in the third period, spending five minutes on the power play in that period, 30 seconds of which on a five-on-three.
“I knew they were a good team and they were going to keep it up,” Bulmer said. “They played well to get to the championship. We got in penalty trouble again, which has cost us a little bit, but we played good, defensively.”
The Jets (14-7-2) pulled Lanne, who finished with 23 saves, with a minute left in favor of an extra forward. With 16.8 seconds left, Fauler wound up with the puck near center ice and sent it to the empty net for the final score.
In a Division II semifinal game, top-seeded Bethlehem beat Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, 8-1, to advance to Saturday’s championship game against Queensbury at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Bethlehem’s Derek Barach scored three goals, including the eventual game-winner. Sam Vincent,
Stephen Russo and John Gosstola each had a goal and two assists, while Packy Carroll scored twice for the 15-3-2 Eagles. Alex Cooper made 21 saves in the win.
Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa (5-16-1) got its lone goal from Chase Godfrey in the first period, pulling within a goal at 2-1 at the 5:38 mark. Goalie Mike Widay made nine saves, and Ian Koupash made 19.
SARATOGA SPRINGS 3, SHAKER/COLONIE 1
Shaker/Colonie 1 0 0 — 1
Saratoga Springs 0 2 1 — 3
First Period — 1, Shaker/Colonie, Corey Brustle, 1:36.
Second Period — 2, Saratoga Springs, Luke Fauler (Stephen Cash), 10:44. 3, Saratoga Springs, Dan Going (Mike Regan, Mike Layman), 12:30.
Third Period — 4, Saratoga Springs, Fauler, 14:43 (en).
Goalies — Shaker/Colonie, Jim Lanne 7-9-7 — 23; Saratoga Springs, Graeme Bulmer 5-9-9 — 23.
BETHLEHEM 8, BURNT HILLS/BALLSTON SPA 1
Burnt Hills/Ballston 1 0 0 — 1
Bethlehem 3 0 5 — 8
First Period — 1, Bethlehem, Sam Vincent (Stephen Russo, Packy Carroll), 1:41. 2, Bethlehem, Derek Barach, 2:01. 3, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Chase Godfrey, 5:38. 4, Kyle Barach (Eric Halek), 9:47.
Second Period — None.
Third Period — 5, Bethlehem, John Gosstola (Russo), 1:24. 6, Bethlehem, D. Barach (Nicholas Parente), 4:27. 7, Bethlehem, Russo (Parente), 6:11. 8, Bethlehem, D. Barach (J. Gosstola, Vincent), 7:30. 9, Bethlehem, Carroll (Steven Sanchez), 12:51.
Goalies — Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Mike Widay — 9, Ian Koupash — 19; Bethlehem, Alex Cooper — 21.
Categories: High School Sports