Shenendehowa ice hockey forward Nolan Sullivan had a week on the ice to remember.
The senior’s second goal of last Sunday’s Section II Division I semifinal was featured as the No. 1 play on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top 10, then two days later he starred in the Plainsmen’s 7-2 win against Adirondack that captured Shenendehowa its first title since 2014.
For the goal that ended up on SportsCenter, Sullivan was pulled down from behind; then, as he slid on the ice, Sullivan lifted the puck over the goalie for a score.
“I saw the puck was on my stick,” Sullivan said after the semifinal win, which saw him produce four goals and two assists. “I saw a little opening below [the goalie’s] glove, and I just tried getting it there, and it went where I wanted it to and it went the way I wanted it.”
Sullivan didn’t see anything incredible about his goal — in the moment.
“I came down and, if I’m being honest, it was kind of just a natural thing,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “It didn’t seem like that big of a deal.”
The Shenendehowa bench, though, recognized the level of sophistication involved in the moment.
“At first, I was thinking, where’s the [penalty]?” said Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha, whose team plays Section IX’s Monroe-Woodbury at 5 p.m. Saturday at Ice Time Sports Complex in Newburgh in the NYSPHSAA regional championship. “Then, the thing I remember is [Shen assistant coach] Bobby [Karl] and I looking at each other, like ‘Holy cow!’ We both had this look of amazement and gave each other a high five.”
Sullivan’s smile grew wider on the ride home from Messa Rink on the Union College campus as the buzz grew about his goal.
“On the bus home, it started to get retweeted. . . . It didn’t seem as big of a deal until it got out there,” Sullivan said.
That “it got out there” turned out to be an understatement.
Hours after the semifinal ended, ESPN included Sullivan’s goal as its top highlight, with its anchor narrating: “Section II hockey semifinals Shenendehowa, the Albany Academy, Nolan Sullivan, falling on his backside. still manages to light the lamp . . . from his tush.”
The morning after the Plainsmen’s semifinal win, Sullivan’s cell phone was buzzing.
“I woke up and my phone was blowing up,” Sullivan said. “ I woke up to 100 DMs [direct messages] on Instagram, people were reposting it, people all around the country were texting me. It was crazy.”
In the championship game, Sullivan had two goals — and his first was scored while sliding on one knee. After hoisting the championship plaque Tuesday night, Sullivan tried to sum up his week.
“This is a dream, but I couldn’t have done it without this team and their support,” Sullivan said. “This team — not only in hockey, but outside of hockey — we just click. I would not be where I am today without these boys.”
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Categories: -Sports, Clifton Park and Halfmoon, High School Sports