Saratoga Springs hockey coach Mike Ricupero now knows what people mean when they say time stands still.
Stuck in a Twilight Zone of a third period, Ricupero watched his team kill off four Shenendehowa power plays and escape from Clifton Park Arena with an important 3-2 Capital District High School Hockey League victory Thursday night.
“I knew it was going to be a game of momentum, but we managed to keep our wits about us,” said Ricupero, who said the third period felt like it “took an hour.”
The Blue Streaks, the defending Section II Division I champions, improved to 5-1 in the league and 7-1 overall, while the Plainsmen, who went 0-for-6 on the power play, dropped to 2-1-0 in the CDHSHL and 5-2-1 overall.
Saratoga Springs had all the momentum in the second period, when it scored twice to take a 3-1 lead.
Senior Dan Going scored his seventh goal of the year at 4:51, after the Streaks kept the puck in the Plainsmen’s zone after Shenendehowa goalie Brett Bernado had made a big save on a slapshot by Justin Wormley. The lead went to 3-1 at 8:24 when junior Jamie Bartoszek, who was standing unmolested in the crease, scored off a great feed by Tristan Sperry.
“I’m more of a defensive-minded coach, and I wasn’t happy with the second period,” said Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha. “We had a couple of breakdowns and overall, I thought our heart dissolved, and we dug ourselves in a hole. You can’t spot a team 10 or 15 minutes, especially a team like Saratoga.”
Saratoga did its best to help the Plainsmen climb out of the hole in the third period, beginning when Luke Fauler went off for tripping just 41 seconds into the period.
Shenendehowa couldn’t capitalize on that power play, but did cut the Streaks’ lead to 3-2 at 4:53 when Zach DeRosa, crashing down the slot, took a perfect feed from TJ Goodwin and slipped the puck past Saratoga junior goalie Ryan Bourgeois.
Back-to-back penalties on Sperry, the first for interference at 5:46 and the second for hooking at 7:36, kept Shenendehowa on the power play, but it was Saratoga that was generating the best chances. Bernardo had to make a great stop on Fauler on a two-on-one, with Sperry in the box, to prevent the Streaks from padding the lead.
Although Bernardo made the more spectacular saves, including one shot that ricocheted off his mask in the final minute, it was Bourgeois — who didn’t play a minute last year — who came away with the big win.
“He was a practice player last year,” said Ricupero of Bourgeois, who came into the game with a 2.50 goals-against average. “I had three senior goalies last year, but I knew I needed to get Ryan ready for this season. When you play bantams or midgets, it’s not the same as high school.
“This is a big rivalry game, and we got the ‘W.’ It wasn’t pretty, but we weathered the storm.”
“Our game plan was to get to the goal and get some second chances, but I think we got a little distracted,” said de la Rocha, who also admitted his power play needs some work.
Saratoga looked sluggish early in the game, but according to Ricupero, that was by design.
“We wanted to start slowly, as weird as that sounds,” he said. “We wanted to play a defensive style, but when each line went out for its second shift, I said to go right at them.”
That paid off when Brendan Whiteside knocked in a loose puck at 9:34, giving the Streaks their first lead.
Shenendehowa pulled even at 13:12 when Anthony Barone chipped the puck over Bourgeois, who was trying to pokecheck the puck away from the crease after stopping a shot by Kevin Sankel.
Although he’s not as polished as Bernardo, who finished with 16 saves, Bourgeois is every bit as competitive.
“He’s a goalie. What can I say?” said Ricupero with a smile. “Ryan is one of the weirdest guys in the locker room, but tonight, he was cool, calm and collected, and played out of his wits.”
Saratoga Springs 1 2 0 — 3
Shenendehowa 1 0 1 — 2
First period — 1, Sar, Brendan Whiteside (Tom Naples, Mike Layman), 9:34. 2, Shen, Anthony Barone (Keith Sankel, TJ Goodwin), 13:12.
Second period — 3, Sar, Dan Going (Jamie Bartoszek, Justin Wormley), 4:51. 4, Sar, Bartoszek (Tristan Sperry, Going), 8:24.
Third period — 5, Shen, Zach DeRosa (Goodwin, Joe Ferraro), 4:53.
Shots on goal — Saratoga Springs, 10-6-3 — 19; Shenendehowa, 10-2-8 — 20.
Power-play opportunities — Saratoga Springs, 0 of 1; Shenendehowa 0 of 6.
Goalies — Saratoga Springs, Ryan Bourgeois, 20-18; Shenendehowa, Brett Bernardo, 19-16.