Bethlehem was still standing after an historic ice hockey win, and Queensbury skaters remained in the hunt, too, when the New York State Public High School Athletic Association canceled the last of its winter sports championships March 23 in response to the growing spread of the coronavirus.
Ten Section II basketball teams, four bowling teams and several individual bowlers also had their seasons cut short with the announcement.
Bethlehem and Queensbury notched state quarterfinal wins on March 7 and had earned spots in the state final four that was slated for March 14-15 in Buffalo. The NYSPHSAA postponed all remaining state competitions March 12 before its decision to cancel them.
Here’s a recap of the 2019-20 Section II hockey season.
Capital District High School Hockey League teams were divided into three regional divisions this season. The groups included Shenendehowa , Adirondack, Saratoga Springs and Queensbury, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, the Capital District Jets, the NASA Mohawks and the GMSSV Storm, and Bethlehem, Albany Academy, CBA and La Salle.
Teams played each of their division opponents twice, and each out-of-division opponent once for a 14-game total. As far as points distribution, division games (or conference games) awarded one point for a win and a half point for a tie. Non-division games (or league games) awarded two points for a win and one point for a tie.
Bethlehem (12-2, 19 points) secured its third straight Delvecchio Cup as the CDHSHL regular season champion in a close race with Saratoga Springs (11-3, 18), CBA (10-2-2, 17.5) and Queensbury (10-3-1, 16.5).
Bethlehem earned its third straight Section II Division 1 championship with a 3-2 win over Saratoga Springs. CDHSHL Player of the Year Justin Chenaille scored all three goals for the Eagles, delivering a tally in each period, and Mike Kurdziolek made 28 saves for one of his 18 wins on the season. Before Bethlehem, Saratoga Springs was the last team to string Section II D1 championships with back-to-back crowns in 2015-16, and four straight from 2010-13.
Queensbury gained a bye into the state tournament as Section II’s only Division 2 team.
Kurdziolek piled up 39 saves, and Jonathan Thibodeau scored on a rebound early in overtime to give Bethlehem a 1-0 state quarterfinal win over Suffern, then the state’s No. 1-ranked Division 1 squad. Bethlehem had lost to Suffern in a shootout after four overtimes 4-3 in a 2019 state quarterfinal, and had lost to Massena 8-3 in a 2018 state quarterfinal, before winning its first New York tournament game.
Queensbury topped Saranac Lake/Lake Placid in its Division 2 state quarterfinal 6-4 when Josh DeMattos collected two goals and an assist, and Devon Salone scored twice.
Jackson Carroll of Bethlehem led the CDHSHL with 30 goals, which included a trio of hat tricks and a four-goal game, as well as 57 points. Joe Amodio of Saratoga Springs was the league’s assist leader with 34, and was second with 56 points. Chenaille (27-25-52) and Will Detora of Saratoga Springs (14-31-45) also had quite productive seasons. Chenaille boosted his career points total to 178, setting a team record.
Kurdziolek led the CDHSHL with a 1.26 goal-against average. The senior surrendered 24 goals while assembling an 18-2 record with three shutouts.
Bethlehem (22-2-0) was No. 2 behind Victor (20-3-0) when the New York State Sportswriters Association released its last set of state hockey rankings for D1 teams on March 10. Saratoga Springs (17-6-0) was No. 12.
Queensbury (14-5-2) was No. 5 among the D2 teams. Skaneateles (22-0-1) was No. 1 in D2 and the NYSPHSAA’s only remaining unbeaten team.