Hats off: Arroyo, Rifice lift T-Birds
Connetquot/Sayville's top line of Bryan Arroyo, PJ DiMartino and Tyler Rifice might have put the SCHSHL on notice.
Arroyo and DiMartino have been making noise all year for Connetquot/Sayville on the scoring front and are always at top of coaches scouting reports.
And then there's Rifice.
Rifice, who missed half the season while recovering from a ruptured spleen, was added to the T-Birds top line in the second half of the season to help complete the dynamic duo.
The line paid maximum dividends Monday night as Arroyo and Rifice tallied hat tricks while DiMartino notched a goal and two assists as No. 1- seed Connetquot/Sayville defeated No. 8 Kings Park/Commack, 11-4 in the SCHSHL quarterfinals at The Rinx in Hauppauge.
"All three are just so talented," said head coach Bruce Kollmar. "With Arroyo – twice he scored on a 1-on-3 situation. That’s the kind of kid he is; he’s got great moves and got great hands."
Arroyo started things off strong when his team needed it most.
The T-Birds looked seemingly deflated after giving up the first goal of the game 19 seconds in and two powerplay opportunities that did not register a shot on goal. Arroyo took over however, taking the puck himself into the Kings Park/Commack zone, toe-dragged through two defenders and backhanded a shot past Kings Park/Commack goaltender Michael Galiczewski to even things up at 1-1.
Three minutes later with the T-Birds now up 2-1, Arroyo again used his speed into the Kings Park/Commack zone, beat three defenders and slid the puck short side past Galiczewski for the 3-1 lead.
Rifice got into the act in the second period. After Kings Park/Commack looked to gain some momentum by cutting the T-Birds lead to 4-2, Rifice fired a top-corner wrister that popped Galiczewski's water bottle to give his squad a 5-2 lead.
"Rifice has come back and he’s a real strong player now that he’s got his legs under him," Kollmar said. "That line really worked hard."
Rifice then opened the third period as a benefactor from a Kings Park/Commack deep defensive-zone turnover, as Arroyo fed Rifice for a wide-open 6-2 lead.
"(Rifice) has played amazing this year," his linemate Arroyo said afterwards. "We missed him in the first half, but he came back strong at the end and helped us out."
Arroyo and Rifice both polished off their hat tricks just four minutes later with the score getting out of hand as the T-Birds put up six goals in the final frame.
The 11 goals ties the most the T-Birds have tallied in a game this season (October 21 vs. John Jay), however despite the surge in offense Kollmar would like to see a little bit more on the other side of the game.
"We’ve got to tighten up defensively," Kollmar said. "We have a team that always wants to jump on offense even when they should be playing some more defense. We’ve got to work on the team concept. Other than that, we’re pretty well set."
Brandon Gennarelli added two goals, while Ryan Kopp and Kevin Connors potted one each.
The top-ranked T-Birds advance to the semifinals on Sunday, 8:00 p.m. at The Rinx with their opponent yet to be determined.
Bulls double up Northport/Huntington
No. 2-seeded Smithtown/Hauppauge topped No. 7 Northport/Huntington in the evening's other quarterfinal matchup. The Bulls benefitted from a hat trick by a returning Joseph Cosme, who had missed the previous four games. Michael Gioia had two goals, while Jonathon Gianchetta tallied a goal and an assist as Smithtown exploded for five goals in the second period.