When the Shenendehowa hockey team needs a big goal, seniors Matt Dempsey or Mike McCarthy usually come through.
But the Plainsmen’s big guns will need some support tonight when top-seeded Shenendehowa hosts Christian Brothers Academy at 7:30 in the Section II Division I semifinals at Clifton Park Arena.
“We’re starting to generate offense from our other lines, and that’s nice to see,” said Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha Thursday. “Part of that is learning to manufacture offense, and not rely on the same guys all the time.”
That’s why de la Rocha liked his team’s effort in the quarterfinals, a 7-2 victory over LaSalle. McCarthy came through with two goals, but junior Joe Ferraro, who had just two goals during the regular season. also had a pair, and sophomore defenseman Ben Orlowski scored his first goal of the year.
The first time the two teams played, on Jan. 22, sophomore Brad Tardiff, who began the year on the practice squad before being promoted to varsity after the Christmas break, scored his first two goals of the year to help the Plainsmen pull out a 4-3 win.
CBA (13-8-0, fifth seed) blanked Shaker/Colonie, 5-0, on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals. Since 1994, the Plainsmen and the Brothers have played 30 times, with Shenendehowa holding a 28-1-1 advantage in the series.
But de la Rocha knows his team, which goes into the semifinals with a 16-4-1 record, will have its hands full with the Brothers.
“CBA definitely isn’t the same team we played a month ago,” he said. “They’re peaking at the right time, and they’re getting their offense going. I watched their game against Shaker/Colonie, and they had a lot of room to move, and got a lot of opportunities on that big surface.”
Dean McMahon had a hat trick against the Jets, and plays on the Brothers’ top line with leading scorer Steve Basile (12-13-28) and Evan Van Epps (9-15-24).
But the balanced scoring also includes defenseman David Wilgocki (9-17-26), forward Mike Dougherty (12-12-24) and defenseman John Bassett (6-14-20), who had two goals against Shaker/Colonie.
“They got most of their production from the first unit of Basile, Van Epps and McMahon [Wednesday],” said de la Rocha. “We have to key on them, but we know they can get scoring from other areas.”
The Brothers also get solid goaltending from Zach Baron, who had a 1.80 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage during the regular season.
Shenendehowa will counter with Capital District High School Hockey League first-team all-star Brett Bernardo, a senior with a 1.97 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
The other semifinal will be played Saturday, with No. 2 seed and defending Division I champion Saratoga Springs (18-2-1) hosting No. 3 Bethlehem (12-8-1) at 6:45 p.m. at the Weibel Avenue Rink.
The championship game will be played Thursday at Union College.
CBA 0 4 1 — 5
Shaker/Colonie 0 0 0 — 0
First period — No scoring.
Second period — 1, CBA, Dean McMahon (Ted Maybaum, John Bassett). 2, CBA, Bassett (Zach Swantech, Mike Dougherty). 3, CBA, Bassett (Evan Van Epps). 4, CBA, McMahon (un).
Third period — 5, CBA, McMahon (Steve Basile, Van Epps).
Goaltenders — CBA, Zach Baron, 31 saves. Shaker/Colonie, Stephen Reilly, unavailable.