It took a few minutes, but Shenendehowa eventually found some chances, and then it didn’t miss often.
After being relegated to just a couple of harmless outside shots in the first five or six minutes of play against Niskayuna/Schenectady’s packed-in defense, the Plainsmen started forcing some movement and opening lanes. They then scored in bunches to post a 12-1 Capital District High School Hockey League victory over the Mohawks at Clifton Park Arena.
The first goal came off the stick of defenseman Peter Sacks from the left point. He turned in a hat trick with a pair of third-period goals and added an assist, as well.
“They did a good job of containing us. We got off to a slow start,” Sacks said. “Really, it was just a matter of connecting on passes and making them move so they couldn’t contain us outside. That first goal was just a shot that happened to go right in the corner, so I was fortunate. I like those one-timers right off the wall.”
“We knew we wanted to rush the puck, press their D hard, got a couple in, and that got in their heads and broke them down,” Shen forward Ryan Mortka said. “We did a good job of not getting frustrated, staying composed and staying positive on the bench.”
The Plainsmen (5-0-1 CDHSHL, 7-3-1 overall) led, 4-0, at the first intermission. Mortka and Kyle Marr assisted on the first two tallies, and Mortka closed the period with a goal of his own, his first of two on the night.
Marr had a goal and four assists. The rest of the points were scattered across the scoresheet, landing beside a total of 16 Plainsmen’s names.
“I like to see that scoring by committee,” Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha said. “Even when our fourth line got in, they were all getting on the scoresheet. And they were all good goals. There was a lot of scrap, but that’s what we want.”
The Mohawks (3-2-0, 4-6-1) played well for stretches, but when discipline lapsed, the door was opened for a run of Shen goals or a handful of penalties.
They played Shenendehowa nearly even through the second period, thanks to Jack Carney’s goal at 3:54 that made it 5-1. In the third, though, the Mohawks committed seven penalties leading to three power-play goals and let the game get far too loose.
“I think the frustration and all those things cascaded, and we couldn’t overcome it,” Mohawks first-year coach Sean O’Connell said. “That’s a quality team. We have three lines, they have three top lines. They have an A, B and C, if you will.”
Shen scored all four of its first-period goals in the final six minutes, two of them 10 seconds apart. In the third, the Plainsmen scored twice in the first minute, then later added two power-play goals just five seconds apart.
Ben Farstad and Jordan Moffre combined to stop 12 of 13 shots for the Plainsmen. The Mohawks got 36 saves from James Blanchfield.
Shenendehowa will return to the ice Friday for a game at Pelham of Section I. The Mohawks will host Section VII’s Beekmantown on Friday night.
O’Connell said he was encouraged by the Mohawks’ play in the second period.
“I think we had more shots in the second period than we had in the first. I think we played a little more cohesively,” he said. “I think we were stunned, at first. A big part of playing this game is learning from your mistakes, and that’s what I want them to do.”
Niskayuna/Schenectady 0 1 0 — 1
Shenendehowa 4 2 6 — 12
First Period — 1, Shenendehowa, Sacks (Mortka, Marr), 9:08. 2, Shenendehowa, Quigley (Mortka, Marr), 11:59. 3, Shenendehowa, Russo (Lesniewski), 12:09. 4, Shenendehowa, Mortka (Cady), 14:22.
Second Period — 5, Shenendehowa, Marr (Kuhl, Russo), 2:31 (pp). 6, Niskayuna/Schenectady, Carney (Vitkin), 3:54. 7, Shenendehowa, Mortka (Marr, Sacks), 9:35.
Third Period — 8, Shenendehowa, Tate Cretti, :39. 9, Shenendehowa, Sacks (Tate Cretti), :59. 10, Shenendehowa, McKone (Hansen, Haldane), 3:06. 11, Shenendehowa, Sacks (Rosmarin, Marr), 5:34 (pp). 12, Shenendehowa, Young (Marvin), 5:39 (pp). 13, Shenendehowa, Knox (Kuhl), 9:08 (pp).
Goalies — Niskayuna/Schenectady, Blanchfield, 36 saves. Shenendehowa, Farstad, 8 saves; Moffre, 4 saves.