The top five teams in Section II ice hockey can enjoy the weekend off while the remaining six Division 1 squads will face off Saturday in the opening round of this year's playoffs.
Bethlehem secured the top spot with a 12-2 league record, Saratoga is No. 2 at 11-3 and Christian Brothers Academy is No. 3 with a 10-2-2 mark.
The upstart GMSSV Storm is the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Adirondack Tuesday or Wednesday with Saturday's winners taking on the top seeds on the road.
In Saturday night action, No. 6 Albany Academy will host No. 11 LaSalle at 7, No. 7 Shenendehowa will take on No. 10 Capital District Jets at 7:15 at the Clifton Park Arena and No. 8 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake/Ballston Spa will host the No. 9 Mohawks at 7:40 at the Schenectady County Recreational Facility.
Queensbury, which finished fourth overall in the CDHSHL, is the lone Division 2 (small school) squad and will not participate in the local playoffs. The Spartans have an automatic berth into the state tournament and will face the Section VII champion March 7 in the regionals.
Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha broke down the path to a title for his Plainsmen.
"The message to my guys is that it's not just four games, it's 12 periods or more," de la Rocha said. "Our youth has led us to making mistakes and playing a really poor first or second period. We're just not deep enough to recover from it.
"Just the other night, we finally played three solid periods against Queensbury [2-2 tie] and they were in the game the whole time. We have to start playing complete games."
Two-time defending champion Bethlehem will take on the winner of the Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa vs. Mohawks contest, Saratoga will host the Shen vs. CD Jets winner, and CBA will take on the winner of the Albany Academy vs. LaSalle matchup. The quarterfinals will be held Tuesday or Wednesday, based on ice availability at the home rinks.
The semifinals will again be held at Union College on Saturday, Feb. 29, with the final set for Tuesday, March 3.
A LOOK BACK
Last year it was highly-touted Saratoga that was upended on its home ice by Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, 4-3, in the quarterfinals. Oliver Mathison scored a pair of goals for the Spartans. Shenendehowa then turned the tables on Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa in the semifinals, avenging an earlier 3-0 road loss with a 4-3 overtime win. Brennan Alheim scoring the game-winning goal for the Plainsmen.
Bethlehem earned its second-straight Section II title with a 4-2 win over the Plainsmen with two quick first-period goals. Michael Bievenue had a hat trick to lead the Eagles.
Bethlehem fell to Section I's Suffern, 3-1 in the regional.