SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – After a hot non-league start the Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa ice hockey team was brought back to Earth at the hands of defending Section II champions Bethlehem Friday night in the Spartans home opener at the Schenectady County Recreational Facility.

Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa trailed by a single goal at the end of the first two periods before the Eagles poured in three straight and skated away with the 5-1 league win.

“We were happy with the way we played in the first two periods, pretty unhappy the way the third period ended up,” Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa Coach Jim Buffoline said. “When you're down 2-1 against the two-time Section II champs, we felt like we were right in the game.

“We had some good chances to score, their goalie made some good saves in the second period and we just came out flat, looked a little tired in the third period.”

Bethlehem (2-1 league, 6-1 overall) opened the scoring with Patrick Cavanaugh depositing an assist from Walter Gould with 3:50 left in the first period.

The Eagles took a two-goal lead five minutes into the second stanza when Avery Miller deposited the goal in the back of the net from an assist by Justin Chenaille.

The Spartans cut the lead in half on Jake Koszelak’s unassisted goal three minutes later, giving Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa new life.

Still in a close contest Buffoline stressed the importance of pressuring Eagles goalie Michael Kurdziolek in the third, but the tables turned quickly on the Spartans.

Less than a minute into the third Ben LaVigne beat Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa sophomore goalie Cam Folli with an assist from Jack Lucey.

Buffoline was still coaching up his bench, telling them to support their goalie and stay with the game plan.

Walter Gould blew that plan up, taking advantage of a diving Folli to his left looking to cut down on the angle and hopefully smother the puck, but instead gave up his fourth goal of the night.

Few opportunities went the Spartans way Friday as Bethlehem’s LaVigne exited the penalty box and picked up the puck at the red line, raced in unimpeded against Folli and flipped the puck in for the fifth Eagles goal of the night.

“As soon as they got that third goal it just seemed like we were in trouble and we just couldn't seem to get our momentum back,” Buffoline said. “They played really well in the third period and they deserved the win. We just didn't play well enough that third period.”

Folli turned back 29 shots on the night with his counterpart, Michael Kurdziolek turning back 25.

“We've been giving up 15 to 17 shots a game and now we gave up 32 in this game, it just tells you that this is the best team that we've played so far this year,” Buffoline said. “We'll be fine, we'll bounce back, we're a pretty strong mindset team.”

The Spartans will have to shake off the loss quickly, facing Niskayuna Saturday night on the same sheet of ice and not looking to share a winless league record with Shenendehowa, Albany Academy or the Capital District Jets.

“We're an older team; we have a lot of juniors and seniors this year, so we'll get over it,” Buffoline said. “We play Nisky tomorrow and we just take it one week at a time, one game at a time and we just want to have a great game against Niskayuna tomorrow. We'll get over this pretty quick.”

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