Pelham edges Scarsdale in D2 final
Follow Section 1 hockey on Twitter @MSGV_Icass
WEST POINT, N.Y. — With 4.5 seconds left in the second period of Sunday's Section 1 Division 2 final between Scarsdale and Pelham, Raiders freshman forward James Nicholas buried a dramatic goal to even the score at 2-2.
With the defending champ on the ropes, upset-minded Scarsdale entered the third period with all the momentum in the world.
Or so they thought.
The battle-tested No. 2-seeded Pelicans (16-5-2) responded with steely resolve, grinding out a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the No. 8-seeded Raiders (15-9) at West Point's Tate Rink. Pelham — which received a bye in the regional round — will play the winner of Section 6/Section 5 in the state semifinals in Utica on March 12.
“I came into the locker room after the second period and said, 'We got them right where we want them,'” Pelham coach Ed Witz said. “We prepare for this stuff.”
The Pelicans did so by playing a brutal schedule, which included games against upstate powers Massena and Salmon River. Pelham defeated Massena in overtime and rallied to tie Salmon River. The stellar performances helped build confidence and, more importantly, provided valuable playoff-like experience.
“We try to teach our kids to play with the stress and anxiety that comes with a close game,” Witz said. “At the highest level, you will inevitably be in close games. These games aren't going to be 5-0.
“When we came out in the third period, I think most teams would have been hit real hard giving up a goal with four seconds left and losing the lead. But our guys were fine. All we are looking to do going into the third period is be up one, down one or tied. The kids stepped up to get the go-ahead goal and then we clamped down.”
Sophomore forward Andrew Schauer scored the game-winning goal off an assist from senior captain Colin Reilly with 4:25 left in regulation.
“I got the puck out of the zone, gave it to Reilly and he gave it back to me and I went five-hole,” Schauer said.
Reilly pointed toward a telepathic connection that led to the goal.
“Whenever I'm in that position, I know Schauer is going to be there,” said Reilly, who also added a goal to give the Pelicans a 1-0 lead with 3:45 left in the first period “I didn't even have to look. I just threw it up in front of the net.”
Overall, Pelham owned the third period, refusing to let Scarsdale clear its defensive zone. The Pelicans cranked up the physicality and wore down the Raiders, who were short on depth after top defenseman Rob Burns went down with a broken ankle in the semifinal win over Rye.
“Pelham came out hard and wanted it,” Nicholas said. “They just started getting shots on net and the puck found the net. If we had done that, it would've been the same for us. But we just didn't get the shots on net.”
Scarsdale played its best hockey in the second period, outshooting Pelham 10-8 and outscoring them 2-1. Senior forward Jake Bank buried the equalizer at the 10:46 mark off an assist from senior captain Travis Misarti, reviving a Raiders squad that was outplayed considerably in the opening period.
Senior defenseman Garrett Martin helped Pelham regain a 2-1 lead with 9:19 left in the second, ripping a devastating slap shot from the blue line past Scarsdale goalie Connor Wolfe (23 saves). Remarkably, it was Martin's first goal of the season.
Nicholas' last-second goal then set the stage for a do-or-die third period, which the experienced Pelicans fed off of.
“That was the closest we've come to elimination — tied going into the third period and they had all the momentum from that goal at the end,” Reilly said. “The seniors in the locker room said it could be our last 15 minutes if we didn't do it right. No one wanted to lose.”
GAME NOTES: Pelham won its second straight Section 1 Division 2 title and sixth overall … Colin Reilly leads Pelham in scoring with 43 points (20G, 23A), while teammate Andrew Schauer is second with 37 points (18G, 19A) … This was Scarsdale's first appearance in the sectional finals since the 2004-05 season. The Raiders lost to Pelham that year, too … Hunter Jurman finished the year as Scarsdale's leading scoring with 45 points (23G, 22A), while teammate James Nicholas came in second with 39 points (19G, 20A).
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Big game Borofsky: Pelham goalie Josh Borofsky always seems to play his best when everything is on the line. Borofsky, who made 19 saves to preserve the victory, cooled off a Scarsdale offense that put up six goals in each of its previous playoff wins over Pawling, Brewster and Rye.
2. Strength in numbers: The Pelicans dominated the third period due to their superior depth. Coach Ed Witz rolled with three lines and it made a difference down the stretch.
3. Thunder pounds lightning: Scarsdale made a living off its transition game all playoffs, burning slower teams like Brewster and Pawling. Against Rye, the Raiders used it to overcome an early 3-0 deficit. But Pelham denied Scarsdale's No. 1 strength, utilizing its size and strength to punish the Raiders in the neutral zone. As a result, Scarsdale didn't have more than a couple odd-man rushes all game.
Scarsdale 0 2 0 2
Pelham 1 1 1 3
PEL (3:45) Colin Reilly from Matt Landis and Will Cullen | 1-0 PEL
SCD (10:46) Jake Bank from Travis Misarti | 1-1
PEL (9:19) Garrett Martin from Andrew Schauer and Danny Shea | 2-1 PEL
SCD (0:04.5) James Nicholas from Hunter Jurman and Bank | 2-2
PEL (4:25) Schauer from Reilly | 3-2 PEL
Scarsdale: Jake Bank (1G, 1A); James Nicholas (1G); Hunter Jurman (1A); Travis Misarti (1A)
Pelham: Colin Reilly (1G, 1A); Andrew Schauer (1G, 1A); Garrett Martin (1G); Matt Landis (1A); Will Cullen (1A); Danny Shea (1A)
Scarsdale: Connor Wolfe (23 saves)
Pelham: Josh Borofsky (19 saves)
Scarsdale 5 10 6 21
Pelham 12 8 6 26
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass