Section II hockey schedules a balancing act

Shenendehowa hockey's Joe Nelsen is shown during a scrimmage Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 at Union College in Schenectady. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Shenendehowa hockey's Joe Nelsen is shown during a scrimmage Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 at Union College in Schenectady. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Gazette Sportswriter

Not all schedules are created equal — especially in high school hockey.

More so than in other Section II team sports, hockey teams have greater independence in their schedule-making. They regularly hit out-of-area tournaments, schedule Capital District High School Hockey League games when rinks and opponents match up, and try to position themselves just right for the postseason.

In most years, all that combines to make the 11-team CDHSHL’s standings tough to read early in the season. Teams that play more league games than others in December will, by default, head to the top while other squads will catch up in early January when schedules even out.

But what’s gone on this winter is pretty unique — even by CDHSHL standards.

“The schedule, well, it’s been a little bit wonky this year,” Niskayuna/Schenectady head coach Sean O’Connell said.

Eight weeks into the 2015-16 season, the discrepancy in the number of games played for each team has mostly rendered looking at the CDHSHL standings a futile exercise. That won’t change until early February.

Yes, most agree that state-ranked Saratoga Springs (9-0, 11-4) looks poised to run away with the regular-season title, but its current large points lead — the Blue Streaks have 14 league points; tied for second-place are Bethlehem (5-1, 7-5) and Shenendehowa (4-1, 5-8) at eight points — is in no small part the byproduct of having played significantly more games than several other area squads.

Saratoga Springs — as well as CBA (6-3, 7-6) and Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville (0-9, 1-11) — has played a league-high nine games inside Section II, while Shenendehowa and Niskayuna/Schen­ectady (2-3, 4-7-1) are tied on the league’s low end with five CDHSHL matchups. That gap will grow larger tonight between Saratoga Springs and Niskayuna/Schenectady, as the Blue Streaks play another league game before the Mohawks play on Saturday.

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About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.