By: Aidan Joly
It took until late in the game to put it away, but Shenendehowa’s scoring came through as they beat Saratoga at Weibel Avenue Ice Rink on Wednesday night, 3-0.
After a scoreless first period, Shenendehowa got going just 21 seconds into the second as Jon DiGiovanni put the puck into the back of the net on a scramble. It was DiGiovanni’s fourth goal of the season, and two of his four goals have come against Saratoga as he scored in their previous meeting earlier this season in Clifton Park which resulted in a 1-1 tie.
“I think it gave us momentum, a lot of it,” DiGiovanni said.
The game was still in limbo heading into the third period, still with DiGiovanni’s goal as the lone strike of the night, but that was when Brennan Alheim came through in the clutch. He scored 1:36 into the third to make it 2-0, giving the Plainsmen a real edge as they headed into the final minutes of the night.
The game remained that score for a while. With 3:12 to play, Saratoga called a timeout to attempt to stage a late comeback. It did not work. Immediately following the timeout, Alheim scored again, making it 3-0 in favor of Shenendehowa and really putting the game out of reach for the Blue Streaks.
“(My) first one was a big goal because it gave us more momentum, and then I really think the (team’s) third goal was just to finish them off. We really finished them there,” Alheim said of his two tallies on the night.
Saratoga struggled on offense for most of the night and only mustered 16 shots on goal. This gave Shen goaltender Kent Leighton a relatively quiet night.
“They out-shot us every period. Every single period we got out-played,” Saratoga head coach Dave Torres said. “We played a total of half a game, we didn’t play a full 45 minutes.”
The win comes as a big one for Shen as it puts them in the top four in the standings, and they hope to be able to host a first-round playoff game. They came into the night wanting to play physical, and that is what they did on the defensive side of the puck.
“I like how aggressively we’ve been forechecking lately. I was afraid coming into tonight that some of that might be a little bit softer because of the bigger sheet (of ice). It’s a little bit more difficult to play aggressive like that on a bigger sheet, but I thought we did a really, really good job of hunting the puck down,” Shenendehowa head coach Juan de la Rocha said.
Shenendehowa improves to 5-4-1 in the league and 7-9-1 overall following the win. They will play again on Saturday, February 3, playing against CBA on the road. That game will begin at 6:15 p.m.
Saratoga falls to 3-5-2 in the league and 5-8-3 overall. They will have less than a 48-hour break before playing again on Friday against La Salle at home. That game will start at 5:45 p.m.
Brennan Alheim: 2 goals
Jon DiGiovanni: 1 goal
Tyler Sullivan: 1 assist
Zach Rupert: 1 assist
Cole Haldane: 1 assist
TJ Novitsky: 1 assist
Saratoga (Brad Hipsley): 24/27, 89% saved
Shenendehowa (Kent Leighton): 16/16, 100% saved