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RYE, N.Y. — Mamaroneck coach Mike Chiapparelli had simple instructions for his goalie Brett Poniros with regards to facing the high-powered offense of the Rye Garnets, ranked second in the MSG Varsity WE/HV Power Rankings and seventh in the NYS D-2 poll.
“I told him he had to shut them out,” Chiapparelli said. “I guess he listened to me.”
Poniros, a senior, made 36 saves to record his third shutout of the season as the Tigers blanked the Garnets, 3-0, Wednesday at Playland Ice Casino.
Rye came into the night averaging just over five goals a game and allowing less than two per game. The Garnets (9-2-1) suffered their first loss of the season to Section 5 power McQuaid Jesuit, 3-1, on Sunday in a tournament upstate.
Mamaroneck (8-7) got off to a quick start when junior forward Teddy Bellis took a Nathan Mulhaney pass and slid it past Rye junior goalkeeper Aidan Talgo just 20 seconds into the game. Less than two and half minutes later, Bellis returned the favor and found Mulhaney in front of the net and just like that it was 2-0 Mamaroneck.
“It was definitely a huge game for us and a huge win,” said Mulhaney, a senior captain. “We’ve won three in a row and hopefully will make it four. You’re going to see a different kind of Mamaroneck team in the second half of the season.”
This was a statement game for the Tigers. They were missing two of their top defensemen in senior captain Jake Danehy and sophomore Brian Schiff. As a result, they made three call-ups from the JV and all logged significant ice time.
Mamaroneck's defense played well but it was Poniros who stood out. The senior rarely gave up a rebound and made several eye-popping saves right on the doorstep. As all good captains do, he gave most of the credit to his teammates.
“This performance today was all about offense and defense, goaltending was definitely third out of the three,” Poniros said. “I was rarely screened and everybody was communicating well. It was what a goaltender wants for every single game.”
Two minutes into the second period, Robert Morris located fellow junior Trey Herlitz-Ferguson all alone in front of the Rye net and Herlitz-Ferguson went top-shelf for the 3-0 lead.
The remainder of the game came down to conditioning, as Mamaroneck seemed content to let Rye wear itself down chasing pucks deep into the zone. The Garnets were never able to set up a consistent offensive attack and were often forced to dump the puck in and follow after it.
The Tigers took advantage of this by changing lines often and skated as well late in the third period as they did in the first.
It was a convincing victory for Mamaroneck. They dominated on offense and defense, and the goaltending was superb. The Tigers have been heating up for some time now and are hoping that their best hockey is yet to come.
“We’re 8-7 and we’re building towards the end of the year,” Chiapparelli said. “That’s when it counts.”
Rye will travel to Ossining on Sunday and will look to bounce back after two straight losses. Mamaroneck will try to make it four straight wins when they face White Plains on Saturday night.
GAME NOTES: Rye — which started the season undefeated at 9-0-1 — has now lost two straight … Mamaroneck has won three straight and, despite missing key defenders, handled Rye's potent offense with ease. The Garnets, who played six of their first 11 games upstate, looked sluggish at times and were out-hustled by the Tigers, especially late in the game.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. January call-ups: Coach Chiapparelli called up three JV defenders on Wednesday and each played a role in preserving the shutout. The Tiger program certainly seems to have depth which bodes well for the future of Mamaroneck hockey.
2. Two-minute drill: Mamaroneck’s Teddy Bellis and Nathan Mulhaney finished with a goal and an assist apiece. What makes this special is that they each assisted on the other’s goal and the goals occurred just two minutes apart in the first period. Rye never bounced back from the early deficit.
3. Brett’s brick wall: Senior net minder Brett Poniros saved all 36 shots Rye managed to put on goal. He was spectacular at times and solid throughout. It was his third shutout of the season.
MAMARONECK (14:40) Teddy Bellis from Nathan Mulhaney | 1-0 MAMARONECK
MAMARONECK (12:16) Mulhaney from Bellis | 2-0 MAMARONECK
MAMARONECK (13:02) Trey Herlitz-Ferguson from Robert Morris | 3-0 MAMARONECK
MAMARONECK: Teddy Bellis (1G, 1A); Nathan Mulhaney (1G, 1A)
MAMARONECK: Brett Poniros (36 saves, 0 goals against)
RYE: Aidan Talgo (29 saves, 3 goals against)
MAMARONECK: 14 13 5 32
RYE: 12 13 11 36