PLATTSBURGH — Seven seconds separated the Beekmantown boys’ hockey team from advancing to the NYSPHSAA Division II championship game a season ago.
Up 3-1 with over five minutes remaining in regulation, the Eagles surrendered three unanswered goals, falling 4-3 in overtime to Syracuse CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt of Section III.
But No. 1 Beekmantown has a second chance and a new life when it returns to the Utica Memorial Auditorium this weekend. The Eagles (18-4-1) face No. 3 Auburn of Section III in the NYSPHSAA Division II semifinals at 2:30 p.m. today.
“I don’t view it as a bad experience, I view it as a learning experience,” Beekmantown coach Justin Frechette said. “There are certain components we have listed …10 or 15 things that every game we try and accomplish. It’s the little things that win or lose championships. Again, I think that was apart of the learning experience last year.
“Six point six seconds has been something we talk a lot about. It was the time left on the clock when CBA tied it up. We realize that, in championship hockey, every second of every game matters. You can’t take a second off.”
The Maroons (17-7) earned a trip to the state semifinals after a 3-1 defeat of Williamsville East of Section VI in the state quarterfinals Saturday.
Auburn is located 25 miles southwest of Syracuse. Its enrollment (1,500) is nearly three times the size of Beekmantown and Chazy combined.
While the Maroons have scored just 76 goals all season, the team rallies around goaltender Brendan Entenmann. A senior captain, Entenmann sports a 1.19 goals-against average, a .951 save percentage and has totaled five shutouts on the season.
Entenmann recently signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse for Le Moyne College next year.
“There are systematic approaches to obviously every game plan we have,” Frechette said. “But we played a lot of great goalies all year. You look at the kid from Lake Placid, (Tucker) Angelopoulos, is probably one of the best goalies in the state. We’re excited about the challenge he presents, and we’re looking forward to executing our game plan on him.”
Jake Orlando (16-13-29), Sean Lattimore (11-8-19), Nick Netti (7-10-17), Danny Entenmann (8-8-16) and Brian Franceschelli (7-8-15) are Auburn’s top point-getters.
“I think they’re a hardworking, good defensive team,” Frechette said. “They get the job done. They work hard in front of the net, and they find a way to win games.”
The Eagles are coming off an 8-3 defeat of No. 5 Pelham of Section I at the Brewster Ice Arena Saturday. Behind solid backchecking and an element of physicality, Beekmantown scored four unanswered goals in the third period to pull away for the win.
“We definitely harp on (backchecking), especially as a defenseman, it helps a lot,” sophomore Brendan Davison said. “You don’t have to worry about all the players. You can just worry about the 1-on-1 with the player coming down on you.
“After you lay a big hit on them, they’re always worried about the next time. Especially with (Ryan) Waterbury, you see it all the time. After he lays that big hit, the next time the kids are a little skittish going into the corner.”
Nate Foster was the driving force behind the Eagles’ offense, totaling three goals and four assists. Foster collected a hat-trick performance in last year’s state semifinal loss at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
A senior forward, Foster (40-20-60) leads the team in scoring. Kyle Constanty (21-20-41), Kyle Bisonette (14-17-31), Josh Barriere (10-20-30) and Brandon Buksa (9-13-22) are also significant contributors on the offensive end.
Senior goaltender Dustin Plumadore sports a .906 save percentage to go along with 3.5 shutouts on the year.
“Dustin’s one of our best athletes on our team and one of the best competitors we have,” Frechette said. “We have so much faith in him back there between the pipes. He’s in a great spot right now mentally and physically.”
Throughout the week of practice, Frechette has stressed playing Beekmantown hockey for all 45 minutes of the contest.
“Beekmantown hockey is getting the puck deep and just going hard to the puck,” junior Ryan Waterbury said. “(Nate) Foster’s fast, and we’ve got some fast kids. We just want to try and utilize our team speed.”
The winner of Saturday’s semifinals will play in the state championship at 3:45 p.m. Saturday. TWCSportsChannel.com will be streaming the Division I and Division II championship games live online.
“It’s going to take everybody,” Frechette said. “It’s going to take from the trainers on down to the last guy on the roster to get this done this weekend. We’re looking forward to representing the area with a great deal of pride and energy.”
Email Ricky St. Clair:email@example.comTwitter: @Ricky_PRSports