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MONSEY, N.Y. — As the seconds ticked off the scoreboard Friday evening at Sport-O-Rama, the fans voiced their displeasure with a chorus of boos.
The maximum capacity crowd wasn't disapproving of the action on the ice. Rather, they didn't want to see it come to an end.
Suffern and Don Bosco (NJ) certainly put on an encore-worthy performance, settling for a 3-3 tie after a scoreless five-minute sudden death overtime period.
The NY-NJ border rivals — separated by a mere six miles — deserved closure, but Mounties coach Rob Schelling was still pleased with the result against an elite non-league opponent.
“Bosco is one of the best teams we've played,” Schelling said. “Going into the playoffs with a game of this caliber is great for our team in terms of getting used to the speed and the atmosphere.”
Against a physically stronger Ironmen (18-1-1) squad, Suffern (13-2-1) more than held its own, rallying with a pair of third-goals to salvage a tie.
“We showed a lot of courage coming back against a team of Don Bosco's caliber,” Schelling said. “We had a couple of chances to win, too. We showed a lot of heart and that's all we can ask. That's why we play the competition we do, so we are in these situations.”
Mounties senior forward John Redgate was the standout, slipping behind Bosco's defense twice for a pair of breakaway goals. He was easily the fastest player on the ice and gave the Ironmen headaches all night.
“He's one of the best players I've ever coached,” Schelling said of Redgate. “As far as his hockey credentials, it's all there. As a person, he's a step above everybody. He's just incredible.”
Redgate backed up his coach's words three minutes into the second period, scoring a spectacular shorthanded goal to give the Mounties a 1-0 lead. He somehow slipped the puck past Bosco goalie Jared Liscio while crashing and sliding headfirst toward the net.
Not surprisingly, the Ironmen knew all about Suffern's star.
“(Redgate) is a good hockey player and he plays juniors in our rink so we see him a lot,” Bosco coach Greg Toskos said. “He's a good player.”
The Ironmen struck back like lightning, scoring three second-period goals in the span of 70 seconds. Dylan Healy sparked the surge at the 5:05 mark, deflecting in a blast from Justin McKenzie. Rory Garlasco tallied the go-ahead goal 44 seconds later on a power play. McKenzie then capped the torrid stretch with a goal at 3:55 to give Bosco a 3-1 lead heading into the final period.
“We wanted to get a little more traffic (in front of the net) in that second period and wanted to keep our guy higher in the slot,” Toskos said. “I think that worked to our advantage.”
Schelling said the lapse was due to penalties. Suffern was penalized twice on Healy's goal — once for interference and then again for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing the call. The Ironmen wasted little time making the Mounties pay.
“(Bosco) is an excellent team and they buried it,” Schelling said. “They had some momentum and they were able to get a couple quick ones. That's part of the game with the momentum shift.”
And the momentum slanted back toward Suffern in the third period. Redgate made it 3-2 a minute and 46 seconds into the action, skating onto a pass from linemate Willie Sanchez for his second goal. Ian Adler provided the equalizer with 9:45 left in regulation, whipping a wicked wrister past Bosco goalie Jared Liscio (17 saves).
“(Suffern) came out in the third and played a really hard period,” Toskos said. “The combination of them coming out strong and us getting caught on a long shift changed the momentum. We have to learn how to hold a two-goal lead in the third period a lot better. That's something we will take away.”
Suffern nearly won it as time ticked down in regulation. Redgate was inches away from a hat-trick at the 3:30 mark, ripping a shot off the right post. Sanchez was then stoned on back-to-back chances inside the final minute. The two teams traded opportunities in overtime, but the deadlock remained.
The two powerhouses have made a habit of playing down-to-the-wire thrillers. Last year, Bosco overcame a three-goal deficit inside the final six minutes of regulation to steal a 6-5 victory.
Needless to say, Toskos hopes the rekindled rivalry — which was put on pause for a number of years — continues.
“Suffern vs. Don Bosco was a rivalry for a long time and we finally got it back on the schedule,” Toskos said. “It was great to get it back on the schedule. You could see the intensity. It was a huge crowd, big goals either way and we walk out with a tie.”
GAME NOTES: Suffern's John Redgate has 33 points (15G, 18A) overall and has scored in seven straight games … Suffern's Willie Sanchez maintained his team lead in points — 39 on 20 goals and 19 assists — with an assist … Don Bosco's Justin McKenzie scored his 13th goal of the year and leads the team with 27 points
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Rocket-powered Redgate: Against a bigger and stronger Ironmen defense, Suffern struggled maintaining possession in the offensive zone. As a result, they relied on “home run” plays in transition. Redgate, who was a step ahead of everyone, hit it out of the park twice. Both of his goals came on breakaways, which caught Bosco's defense off-guard. Like in every sport, speed kills.
2. Bosco makes Suffern pay: Bosco's three-goal second-period surge — all in the span of 70 seconds — was aided by a pair of Suffern penalties. The Mounties were penalized on Healy's goal and the Ironmen responded with the go-ahead score 44 seconds later.
3. Stark a standout in net: Suffern goalie Tyler Stark played arguably his best game of the season. He was screened on all three of Bosco's goals, so he basically stopped every puck he was able to see. Stark (27 saves) was especially hot in the first period, stuffing all 13 Ironmen attempts to keep a slow-starting Suffern team in the game. “Stark played incredible,” Schelling said.
Don Bosco 0 3 0 0 3
Suffern 0 1 2 0 3
SF (12:00) John Redgate unassisted | 1-0 SF **
DB (5:05) Dylan Healy from Trevor McGee and Justin McKenzie | 1-1
DB (4:21) Rory Garlasco from Matt McMorrow | 2-1 DB *
DB (3:55) Justin McKenzie from Healy and Cole Maier | 3-1 DB
SF (13:46) Redgate from Willie Sanchez | 3-2 DB
SF (9:45) Ian Adler from Greg Dgheim | 3-3
* Indicates power play goal
** Indicates shorthanded goal
Don Bosco: Dylan Healy (1G, 1A); Justin McKenzie (1G, 1A); Rory Garlasco (1G); Trevor McGee (1A); Matt McMorrow (1A); Cole Maier (1A)
Suffern: John Redgate (2G); Ian Adler (1G); Greg Dgheim (1A); Willie Sanchez (1A)
Don Bosco: Jared Liscio (17 saves)
Suffern: Tyler Stark (27 saves)
Don Bosco 13 8 6 3 30
Suffern 3 8 7 2 20
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass