For 15 minutes Friday night, Bethlehem managed to contain Saratoga Springs’ potent offense in their Section II Division I hockey semifinal at Weibel Avenue Rink.
Enter Matt Flynn.
The senior winger had a hand in all of the Blue Streaks’ scoring in a four-goal second period that lifted the defending champions past the Eagles, 5-0, and into Thursday night’s sectional final against Shenendehowa.
The second-seeded Plainsmen beat Shaker/Colonie, 6-5, in overtime in the other semi in Clifton Park.
“I was just seeing the ice well,” said Flynn, who had two goals in the Blue Streaks’ 6-0 quarterfinal win over LaSalle. “My teammates were getting open. The guys I’ve been playing with have been stepping up. Playing with [twin brother] Ryan, we find ourselves very well.”
“He’s a positive guy. He knows how to play hockey,” said Blue Streaks coach Dave Torres. “He has a lot of energy. His vision is incredible. He’s a gamer, like Tyler Bullard and a lot of our other guys.”
That didn’t show in the first period, when Bethlehem’s defense-first approach held the top-seeded Streaks to five shots.
“We wanted to keep two forwards back and hang one up high, then try to hit him with a pass,” said Bethlehem coach Andre Rodrique, whose team lost, 5-1, in the only regular-season meeting. “It worked well for the first period.”
Torres told his team to pick up the pace heading into the second period.
“That first period was ugly. They needed a little kick in the butt between the first and second periods,” Torres said. “I wasn’t happy with the effort. You can’t just expect to show up and win.
“Everyone wants to beat us. Sometimes, these guys think they’re better than what they are, but you have to come and play the game. All 45 minutes of it.
“It was going to be their last game of the year here. It could be a memorable one or a negative one. They turned it up.”
“In the locker room, he hounded on getting to loose pucks and fighting our battles and getting our chances and burying them,” Flynn said.
Senior Tyler Bullard, who centered a line between the Flynn twins, cracked the seal with an easy power-play goal on Bethlehem’s lone penalty of the period.
Devin Smith took a pass from Flynn and found Bullard alone to the right of Eagles’ goalkeeper Kevin Cooley,
“Devin slid it through the box, and put it right on my tape,” Bullard said. “I went top shelf with it. I could have picked wherever I wanted, that’s how good a setup it was.”
“That was a big goal,” said Flynn. “Once you get that first goal, they hesitate a little bit and you junp right on them.”
“We knew we had to play a perfect game,” said Rodrique. “In their hearts, our kids knew we couldn’t afford to get two or three goals down.”
“We knew we had to take advantage of that situation,” said Torres said of the power play. “We’re tough enough to skate against, five-on-five. On the power play, we’re almost unstoppable. We work on it every day in practice, and it’s pretty lethal.
“I knew when we got the first goal, we would score in bunches. That’s what we’ve done all year.”
Flynn got an assist on that goal, then made it 2-0 with a solo effort at 11:44 that really opened things up. Flynn assisted on a goal by his brother at 13:28, and then set up Drew Patterson’s goal at 13:46.
Not only did Saratoga outscore Bethlehem, 4-0, in the middle 15 minutes, the Blue Streaks outshot the Eagles, 21-1, in the second.
“We knew after the first period that we didn’t generate much,” said Bullard. “We came into the locker room and discussed it. We needed to get the puck to the net more often instead of being too fancy. That’s all we did.”
Torres was just as pleased with his team’s defense, which limited the Eagles to 11 shots. Behtlehem’s best chance came when Sean Spellman rang a shot off the crossbar right after his team went down two goals.
“It takes all five guys plus the goaltender,” said Torres. “I don’t know how many high school teams get two consecutive shutouts in playoff games.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS 5, BETHLEHEM 0
Bethlehem 0 0 0 — 0
Saratoga Springs 0 4 1 — 5
First period — No scoring.
Second period — 1, Saratoga, Tyler Bullard (Devin Smith, Matt Flynn), 5:47 (pp). 2, Saratoga, Matt Flynn (Ryan Flynn), 11:44. 3, Saratoga, R.Flynn (M.Flynn), 13:28. 4, Saratoga, Drew Patterson (M.Flynn), 13:46.
Third period — 5, Saratoga, Nick Winters, 6:39.
Goaltenders — Behtlehem, Kevin Cooley, 31 saves. Saratoga Springs, Dakota Smith, 11 saves.
CLIFTON PARK — Kyle Marr’s goal 8:53 into overtime gave Shenendehowa a 6-5 win over Shaker/Colonie.
Sophomore Peter Russo scored two goals for the Plainsmen, his second tying the game wth 2:25 to goal in regular time. The Jets had one-goal leads on four occassions, with Kevin Egan giving the third seed a 5-4 lead with 5:01 remaining in the third period.
SHENENDEHOWA 6, SHAKER/COLONIE 5 (OT)
Shaker/Colonie 1 3 1 0 — 5
Shenendehowa 1 3 1 1 — 6
First period — 1, S/C, Kevin O’Neil (Tyler Donaldson, Sean Phillips), 13:19. 2, Shen, Brad Tardif (Andre Thibault), 13:40.
Second period — 3, S/C, Mike Mineau (Jordan Vetrone, Sean Leach), :37. 4, Shen, Max Papele (Kyle Marr), 1:16. 5, S/C, Mineau (Carter Brock, Leach), 6:56. 6, Shen, Riley Christopher (Tardif), 9:31. 7, Shen, Peter Russo , 9:38. 8, S/C, Donaldson (Brendon Closs), 13:32.
Third period — 9, S/C, Kevin Egan (Vetrone), 9:59. 10, Shen, Russo (David Hunter), 12:35.
Overtime — 11, Shen, Marr (Irving, Nick Quigley), 8:53.
Goaltenders — Shaker/Colonie, Zach Dignum, 19 saves. Shenendehowa, Brian Walter, 29 saves.