After capturing two consecutive Champlain Valley Athletic Conference regular-season titles, the Beekmantown boys’ hockey team had no Section VII banners to show for.
Wednesday night, however, its third try at a championship was the charm.
High School Sports Magazine
The Eagles (18-3-1), who received a three-point night from senior forward Brenden Carnright, defeated Plattsburgh High 4-3 to claim the sectional title at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
With the win, Beekmantown earned an automatic berth in the NYSPHSAA Division II semifinals Saturday, March 9 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“It’s not about me, and it’s not about anyone else but these 24 boys,” Eagles coach Justin Frechette said. “We put the game plan in and I told them (Wednesday), ‘just go out and enjoy the moment, but understand that every second of this game matters.’ I couldn’t be more pleased with how we continued to battle.
“This game could have gone either way. This year, we were able to be on the top end of it. The last few years, we’ve been on the short end of the stick. (Wednesday) is about our players and doing whatever it takes to win a championship.”
A roller-coaster second period saw three goals scored during a span of two minutes and three seconds.
After a 1-1 game early in the middle stanza, Carnright jumped off the bench during a line change and skated in on Hornets (13-9) goaltender Robby Knowles all alone.
Going from forehand-to-backhand, the assistant captain beat Knowles on a finesse move in front at 10:18.
“Matt LaClair saw me coming up the ice and he tried to bank it off the boards, but it was just too far ahead of me,” Carnright said. “The defenseman chipped it up over him, and I saw a loose puck. I skated as hard I could to it, knowing that this could be my one shot to score. I did the forehand-to-backhand like I always do, and it went it.”
Then, Plattsburgh High eighth-grader Andrew Bechard tied the game at 2-all with a wrist shot from the bottom of the near-side circle.
With just nine seconds elapsed since Bechard’s tally, Section VII points leader Nathan Foster raced down the ice, converting a breakaway opportunity, while registering his 28th goal of the year in the process.
“(Foster) is just an explosive player,” Frechette said. “Our team did a great job (Wednesday) of responding. Every time they were able to get momentum, we responded. That goal by (Foster) right after they scored, I think was a big turning point in the game.”
Hornets coach Jamie Reidy elected to pull Knowles after the second period’s conclusion for freshman netminder Giancarlo Ventre.
With the game 3-2 in favor of Beekmantown, Plattsburgh High welcomed its fourth power-play chance on the night with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Eric Bechard, who assisted on John-Anthony Fine Lease’s goal in the second period, threw a puck in front, which was inadvertently redirected by a Beekmantown defenseman into the back of the net.
“Beekmantown hockey is always finding a way to overcome those challenges,” Frechette said. “What’s really nice is — our captains grabbed that player and said, ‘don’t worry, we’ve got the next one for you.’ That’s what this team is about. From the top to the bottom of our roster, this is a group effort. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Eagles forward Kyle Bisonette recorded the game-winning goal with 6:03 remaining in the third period.
On the man advantage, Austin Bradish ripped a shot from the left point.
Battling for position in front, Bisonette was able to redirect the puck with the blade of his stick and past Ventre by the near-side post.
“That’s all we’ve been working on is having a man in front of the net,” Bradish said. “We knew that if we could get bodies in front, we were going to be good. It hit one player, went in and that was it.”
Reidy said it was difficult to pinpoint a particular play or goal that decided the outcome of the game, but was pleased with leadership from upperclassman.
“Disappointed is the word, not having the win, but I can tell you we’re a very young hockey team,” Reidy said. “The way I see it now is if we get everybody returning, our goal will be to get right back in the CVAC championship game again. I think next year, we’ll be back.
“From our team to their team, we wish (Beekmantown) well. I think they’re going to represent very well. I think they have a classy group of kids and are well coached. It’s been a long time coming for them.”
Andrew and Eric Bechard each contributed one goal and one assist for the Hornets.
Beekmantown finished 1-for-2 on the man advantage, while Plattsburgh High registered one power-play goal on four attempts.
The Eagles held the advantage in shots on goal, 35-22.
Beekmantown will challenge either Syracuse CBA/J-D or West Seneca West March 9 at 9:30 a.m.
“This is a senior class that for three years has been right there at the top and haven’t been able to overcome games similar to this,” Frechette said. “In games like this, your best players have to come to play and that’s what happened (Wednesday). I told the boys, ‘let’s not worry about the final four, it’s a great thing that we have coming, but enjoy this moment and cherish the victory because they don’t come around very often.’”
Plattsburgh High 3
Plattsburgh High 0 2 1 — 3
Beekmantown 1 2 1 — 4
First period- 1, BCS, Bradish (Carnright), 3:29.
Second period- 2, PHS, Fine-Lease (E. Bechard, Tolosky), 2:20. 3, BCS, Carnright (LaClair), 10:18. 4, PHS, A. Bechard (unassisted), 11:12. 5, BCS, Foster (unassisted), 11:21.
Third period- 6, PHS, E. Bechard (A. Bechard), 7:13 (pp). 7, BCS, Bisonette (Bradish, Carnright), 8:57 (pp).
Shots: Beekmantown 35, Plattsburgh High 22.
Saves: Knowles (19), Ventre (12), PHS, 31. Plumadore, BCS, 19.