UTICA — Seven seconds separated the Beekmantown boys’ hockey team from advancing to today’s NYSPHSAA Division II championship game.
Saturday morning, however, it wasn’t meant to be.
Syracuse CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt of Section III, down 3-1 with over five minutes remaining in regulation, rallied for a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime defeat of the Eagles (18-4-1) at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“In championship hockey, these are the type of games that you get involved with. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t able to be the winner of that game,” Beekmantown coach Justin Frechette said. “We left it on the ice. That’s what I asked of them before they went out — is to believe they could win and leave it on the ice, and they did that (Saturday).”
With 6.6 seconds remaining in the third period, Brothers’ (16-8-1) leading scorer Ryan Durkin tied the game at 3-all with an extra attacker on the ice.
“They got one with kind of like a scrum going on in front,” Frechette said. “There were four or five people whacking at it, and it just got up over (Dustin) Plumadore’s pads and ended up in the back of the net.”
Freshman defenseman Sam Mueller was credited with the game-winning goal at 6:37 of overtime.
After a falling Eagles’ defenseman collided with a backchecking forward at the blue line, Mueller walked in all alone and beat Plumadore blocker side from the near-side circle.
The puck got wedged in the top-left corner of the netting, delaying the goal light from turning on.
“We had a player catch an edge and their player went on a 1-on-0 on the goalie, and it was a great shot,” Frechette said. “That’s just what happened. It wasn’t a breakdown systematically, and it wasn’t a fluke bounce. That’s how close these games are, and unfortunately we were on the short end of the stick.”
Nate Foster, though, was the driving force of Beekmantown’s offense, registering all three goals in the one-goal loss.
“In championship hockey, your best players have to be your best players. (Foster) is just an explosive, elite athlete,” Frechette said. “He finds ways to make big plays in big games, and he did that again (Saturday) scoring a hat trick in a state semifinal game.”
During the first 11 minutes of the first period, the Eagles were stationary and down 8-1 in shots on goal.
Foster’s first of three goals with 3:56 remaining in the first helped spark Beekmantown, which carried into the second period and the first three-quarters of the third period.
“I just stressed to them that they needed to settle down, go back to our systems, play Beekmantown hockey and that it’s no different than any other game,” Frechette said. “I thought the boys listened to that and did that. Once we started doing that and playing the way we had to play, we started putting pucks in the net.”
Despite a 32-19 disadvantage in shots on goal, Frechette was pleased with the way his players battled throughout.
“I can’t be more proud of a group of young men, coaches and the school that I’m a part of,” Frechette said. “We went into the third period up 3-1, and I can’t ask for anything more.”
Plumadore finished with 28 saves on 32 shots faced, while Brothers’ netminder Tim Decker accumulated 16 saves.
Matt LaClair, Kyle Bisonette and Brenden Carnright accounted for assists on two of three Foster goals.
Frechette said he and his team were proud to represent the North Country at the state semifinals.
“I’m glad to represent Section VII, Beekmantown and the North Country,” Frechette said. “I’m proud of the way our kids played with class throughout this entire game.”
With the win, Syracuse CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt moved on to today’s title game versus Section I’s John Jay Cross River at 12:30 p.m.
The Indians (23-1-1), down 4-1 to Section X’s St. Lawrence Central entering the third period, rallied for five goals during a seven-minute span to advance.
Beekmantown 3 (OT)
Syracuse 1 0 2 1 — 4
Beekmantown 1 2 0 0 — 3
First period- 1, CBA/J-D, Doust (Dziergas), 6:05. 2, BCS, Foster (LaClair), 11:04.
Second period- 3, BCS, Foster (Bisonette, Carnright), 6:44 (pp). 4, BCS, Foster, 13:52.
Third period- 5, CBA/J-D, Durkin (Mueller), 10:36. 6, CBA/J-D, Durkin (Doust), 14:54.
Overtime- 7, CBA/J-D, Mueller, 6:37.
Shots: Syracuse CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt 32, Beekmantown 19.
Saves: Decker, CBA/J-D, 16. Plumadore, BCS, 28.