GLENVILLE – Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa ice hockey extended its Capital District High School Hockey League winning streak to five games with a 7-0 shutout of the Niskayuna/Schenectady/Albany/Amsterdam Mohawks at Schenectady County Recreational Facility.
Six different Spartans scored Monday afternoon, with Jason Schnitzler scoring a pair of goals as Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa recorded 45 shots on N/S/A/A in Monday’s win.
Schnitzler scored 10 seconds into the contest, winning the faceoff, skating in and flipping the puck past Mohawks starting goalie Joe Rossi. Ninety seconds later, Kevin Cullen deposited the puck in the back of the net after the Spartans reversed N/S/A/A in the defensive end. The offensive rush wasn’t over, as Schnitzler won a faceoff in the Mohawks’ end and found Cullen in front of the net for a quick 3-0 lead three minutes in.
N/S/A/A coach Ken Lancto immediately called a timeout and swapped one Albany High School goalie for another in the Mohawks net, sophomore Alex Doehla, making his first-ever varsity ice hockey appearance.
“Nobody wants to pull a goalie that quickly in a game, but I think in some situations it changes things up, it slows the game down,” Lancto said. “It stops them from keeping the momentum for a little bit.”
It also caused Doehla’s heart to skip a beat.
“I was scared, honestly, it’s my first varsity game, I didn’t expect to go out there,” Doehla said. “[Lancto] turns to me, and I’m like, ‘Oh God, this is happening.’ So, I just grabbed my stick and skated out.”
The quick insertion and the level at which the Spartans were playing added to his apprehension.
“Their [line] changes were quick, they kept on shooting, they were supporting saves, they would bang the boards,” Doehla said. “They came out quick.”
Doehla recorded his first save of his varsity career within his first minute in goal and would face an additional 39 shots before the contest was over.
“I had that fear, like what if I just mess up on the first save?” Doehla said. “Once I stopped that first one, I got back into my rhythm, and I felt like I was good.
“My teammates every time I made a save, they came over and said good job. They were very supportive, that helped me continue, try and stop and give our team a chance.”
Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa’s Owen Grabb didn’t let the 6-foot 3 1/2-inch netminder’s rookie saves go to his head, flipping in the puck over Doehla with 38 seconds left in the first period to go ahead, 4-0.
Just as Doehla became more comfortable in net, the Mohawks looked stronger in front of him, keeping the Spartans at bay until midway through the third period. Doehla gave up three goals in the period.
“The goals that I let up in the third, that’s my fault, I think I could have played it better,” Doehla said. “My stick was broken on that one play where it was a one-timer. I’m not going to entirely blame it on the stick, but I feel like I could’ve done better.”
While the Mohawks were able to limit the Spartans’ offense in the middle sessions, they couldn’t break through the Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa defense.
“We were telegraphing what we wanted to do with the puck across the blue line,” Lancto said. “We passed the puck back and they knew we were going to shoot. That’s something we need to work on.”
Rossi and Doehla were late entries to N/S/A/A as the Mohawks home school districts span Schenectady, Albany, and Montgomery County. Each school district had to give approval for “high” risk sports – including hockey – before the players could begin practicing, needing six before they could appear in a game.
“I feared that we would already have almost all of our season done before we were able to play,” Doehla said. “I just wanted to get out there and play, I was anxious. I was just waiting for my time, and then it came.”
BH/BS goalie Cam Folli made 28 saves to earn the shutout.
N/S/A/A 0 0 0 – 0
Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa 4 0 3 – 7
Burnt Hills scoring: Schnitzler 2-2, K. Cullen 1-1, Tribley 1-0, Grabb 1-0, Boni 1-0, Rossetti 1-1, Caswell 0-1, Cullen 0-1, Nucci 0-1. N/S/A/A scoring: None. Goaltenders: N/S/A/A: Rossi 3 saves, Doehla 35 saves. Burnt Hills: Folli, 28 saves.