Loud and clear: Suffern makes statement
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MONSEY, N.Y. — Friday's showdown between defending Section 1 champs Suffern (D-1) and Pelham (D-2) was expected to be a heavyweight bout.
Both teams entered undefeated against Section 1 competition and had gaudy state rankings attached to their names.
Like most boxing matches these days, it failed to live up to the hype.
The Mounties (8-1) delivered a first-round KO to the glass-jawed Pelicans (5-3), jumping out to a 5-0 first-period lead en route to a convincing 8-2 victory at Sport-O-Rama.
“We wanted to make a statement today — and I think we did that,” said Suffern senior forward Willie Sanchez, who paced the Mounties with a game-high four goals and one assist.
Fellow senior forward John Redgate agreed wholeheartedly.
“To put that statement in everyone's head in the rest of the section and the state is a great feeling,” said Redgate, who pumped in three goals and added an assist.
Suffern wasted little time firing its statewide warning shot, scoring four goals inside the first eight minutes and 58 seconds of the first period. Redgate struck a mere 52 seconds into the action. He pounced on a turnover, deked his way through Pelham's entire defense and then slipped in a backhand shot before crashing to the ice.
For Pelham, it was simply a sign of things to come.
Sanchez doubled the lead at 9:19 and Redgate tripled it at 6:37. Freshman forward Justin Tiso got in on the act at the 6:02 mark, taking a precise blue line-to-blue line pass from sophomore Tom Mahoney and finishing it on a breakaway. Sanchez capped off the explosive first period with 2:02 left, unleashing a top-shelf wrist shot that dislodged Pelham goalie Matt DeYoung's water bottle.
“That's the type of game we want to play,” Sanchez said. “We want to get out there as hard as we can and want to let the (opposing) defense know we are there. If we go hard to them, hopefully they will turn pucks over. And we try to capitalize on every turnover we get.”
According to Pelicans coach Ed Witz, that's exactly what happened.
“We made some mistakes and turnovers and (Suffern) is good enough that they will convert those,” Witz said. “That's the way it is. But it was a learning experience against them the first time out. We will be better next time. They are very, very good and earned it. They out-hustled that first period and got that lead. It's kind of hard to come back.”
Suffern relegated any potential comeback to fantasy land, getting back-to-back goals to open the second period from Sanchez and Redgate. Senior forward Danny Shea finally got Pelham on the board with 1:56 left in the second, scoring off a setup from sophomore defenseman Will Cullen and sophomore forward Andrew Schauer.
But any positive Pelican vibes were quickly dashed, as Sanchez responded with a shorthanded goal exactly 33 seconds later to stretch Suffern's lead to 8-1 heading into the third. Pelham senior forward Colin Reilly accounted for the lone goal of the final period on a shorthanded breakaway.
Of course, it mattered very little in a game that felt like it was over before it started.
“Things are working out well for us,” Sanchez said. “But we can't get ahead of ourselves. There's always room for improvement. Every game we want to take a step forward. A step backward will kill us and we don't want that to happen.”
Based on Friday's result, the only place Suffern's going is forward — and fast.
GAME NOTES: Suffern is now 5-0 against Section 1 competition and has outscored the them a combined 43-2 … Pelham was the first Section 1 team to score a goal against Suffern … Willie Sanchez leads Suffern with a team-high 27 points (14G, 13A), while teammate John Redgate is third on the team with 18 points … The four goals were a season-high for Sanchez … Dating back to the 2008-09 season, Suffern has now won seven straight against the Pelham, outscoring them a combined 35-3 … The two teams are slated to meet against on Feb. 7 at the Ice Hutch and will potentially square off at the Suffern tournament next weekend.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Redgate, Sanchez dominate: Suffern senior captains John Redgate and Willie Sanchez were supercharged on the ice, combining for seven goals and two assists. If it had been a video game, one player would have accused the other of putting in a cheat code to give the duo unlimited turbo speed. Seriously, that's exactly what it looked like. The two were the fastest, sharpest and hardest-hitting players on the ice — and it wasn't even close. Mounties coach Rob Schelling summed it up best: “They can fly. Those two are as good as it gets. They are two of the best players in the state — and they played it tonight. We needed them to step up and that's the way it has been all year.”
2. Suffern shoots the lights out: Suffern managed to score eight goals despite only taking 22 shots, which means roughly 36 percent of their shots found the back of the net. In hockey, that's just an unreal stat.
3. Pelham unsettled on a goalie: Coach Ed Witz said the starting goalie position is still up in the air. First-year netminder Matt DeYoung, a sophomore, started his third straight game. Josh Borofsky, who had a breakout season last year as a sophomore, didn't come in till midway through the third period. The Pelicans have given up 4.25 goals a game this year, so the goalie position obviously has to improve and solidify by the playoffs. After all, a standout goalie is always the biggest difference-maker in do-or-die games. Here's Witz on the situation: “We don't know yet. We are still wading through the mud a little bit. I thought DeYoung played well, but (Suffern) kind of jumped him. They got some really good opportunities on him. He's young and it was only his third varsity game of his career. It's kind of a heavy thing to ask a sophomore who is playing just his third varsity game. But he's played John Jay-CR, Saratoga and Suffern — good teams. Josh Borofsky was OK and played well in his half of the third period, so we are going to see.”
SF (14:08) John Redgate unassisted | 1-0 SF
SF (9:19) Willie Sanchez from John Costa and Kevin Hill | 2-0 SF
SF (6:37) Redgate from Sanchez | 3-0 SF
SF (6:02) Justin Tiso from Tom Mahoney | 4-0 SF
SF (2:02) Sanchez from Redgate and Adam Brenner | 5-0 SF
SF (12:08) Sanchez unassisted | 6-0 SF *
SF (9:06) Redgate from Ian Adler | 7-0 SF
PE (1:56) Danny Shea from Will Cullen and Andrew Schauer | 7-1 SF
SF (1:23) Sanchez from Adler | 8-1 SF **
PE (7:54) Colin Reilly unassisted | 8-2 SF **
* Indicates power play goal
** Indicates shorthanded goal
Pelham: Danny Shea (1G); Colin Reilly (1G); Will Cullen (1A); Andrew Schauer (1A)
Suffern: Willie Sanchez (4G, 1A); John Redgate (3G, 1A); Ian Adler (2A); Justin Tiso (1G); Kevin Hill (1A); Adam Brenner (1A); John Costa (1A); Tom Mahoney (1A)
Pelham: Matt DeYoung (9 saves, 8 goals against); Josh Borofsky (5 saves, 0 goals against)
Suffern: Tyler Stark (20 saves)
Pelham 7 7 8 22
Suffern 9 8 5 22
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass