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Heading into Monday's showdown against Scarsdale, Mamaroneck was seemingly primed for a letdown game. After all, the Tigers had just scored a landmark victory over defending New York State Division 1 champ Suffern in their previous game on Friday.
Fortunately for coach Mike Chiaparelli's squad, the dreaded hangover lasted just one period. Mamaroneck (8-6) came back from an early 2-0 first-period hole to defeat the Raiders, 3-2, at E.J. Murray Skating Center in Yonkers.
"I think we might have been confident after that Suffern win," senior Robert Morris said. "We started off kind of slow and that tends to happen after a big win like that. Once we got our feet moving, it was like any other game and we came right back."
Morris made sure the Tigers finished on a high note, burying the game-winning goal off an assist from Trey Herlitz-Ferguson with 2:55 left in regulation.
"Trey took it down the left wing and drew two guys to him because they know he's a great player," Morris said. "It was a heck of a pass right there. He knew he was drawing guys to him and got hit pretty hard. He put it right on my stick. I had to score at that point. I couldn't let him down there. They left me wide open."
The scoring chances were aplenty for Mamaroneck, which outshot Scarsdale 37-24 overall. If not for a strong performance by Raiders goalie Ian Marinelli, the outcome would have been decided much earlier. Marinelli made a career-high 34 saves to keep the Tigers' offense in check.
"We just kept throwing shots at (Marinelli)," Morris said. "We had 37 shots and he stood on his head the whole night but eventually one or two had to slip through. We had so much pressure on him the whole night. It was consistent and we were lucky to get one at the end."
Mamaroneck's Peter Conley was the first to crack the Marinelli code. The senior captain stuffed in a backhand shot from a seemingly impossible angle to cut Scarsdale's lead to 2-1 with 6:57 left in the second period.
The Tigers scored the game-tying goal on a 5-on-3 power play at the 3:48 mark of the second. A wide-open Ted Bellis, who was positioned on the back post, hammered home a precise diagonal pass from Conley.
"We were fortunate to draw a few penalties on (Scarsdale) and we have a pretty good power play," Conley said. "We work on it a lot in practice, so we were grateful they took that extra penalty to give us a 5-on-3. I'm always looking for Teddy back door and I found him and he put it in."
Scarsdale (6-2-1) committed four of its five penalties during the crucial second period, which wasn't lost on coach Jim Mancuso.
"We took a lot of bad penalties in the second period," Mancuso said. "It was 5-on-3 and (Mamaroneck) banged it in."
The Raiders' offense stalled out after the opening 15 minutes of action. The Nicholas brothers — James and Stephen — accounted for both first-period goals. James struck at the 8:14 mark and Stephen followed it up less than a minute later. Scarsdale struggled to find shooting lanes over the final two periods, rarely testing Tigers goalie Thomas Brill (22 saves).
"Mamaroneck did a good job of clogging up the middle and taking away good scoring opportunities," Mancuso said. "But we still have to be able to get a shot off."
Mamaroneck — which is 5-2 over its last seven games — has morphed into Section 1's hottest team. For a squad that struggled through a four-game losing streak in December, the turnaround almost seems surreal. But the Tigers never doubted their abilities. From the very start, their eyes have been fixed on the prize.
"At the beginning of the season, we felt we had the team to [to win a sectional title] and the senior leadership to do it," Conley said. "Early in the season we got off to a nice start. We were 3-0 against some quality teams and then we had a bit of a letdown. But the win against Suffern kind of cemented the belief that we could go on and win the sectional title. I think we can play with any team in the state, but we are going to take it one game at a time."
GAME NOTES: Brian Schiff, who tallied a pair of assists, leads Mamaroneck in scoring with 21 points (4G, 17A). Peter Conley (12G, 8A) is second and teammates Robert Morris (4G, 15A) and Trey Herlitz-Ferguson (13G, 6A) are tied for third … James Nicholas leads Scarsdale in scoring with 31 points (15G, 16A).
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Defense first for Tigers: Mamaroneck is now 3-1 when it holds the opponent to two or fewer goals. The Tigers have one of Section 1's most potent offenses, but a deep playoff run rests solely on their ability to defend. "We are trying to get our kids to think defense first," coach Mike Chiaparelli said. "If we can do that, we are going to be a tough team. We didn't give up many good chances tonight. We didn't give up many good chances on Friday night. If we play good defense, we are pretty good.
2. Penalties lift Mamaroneck, doom Scarsdale: The Raiders' second-period penalty issues really changed the course of the game. Not only did Mamaroneck bury the game-tying goal thanks a 5-on-3 power play, but Scarsdale's top players wore down as they attempted to kill off four penalties in the period. As a result, they ran out of gas down the stretch.
3. Scarsdale misses Schell: The Raiders clearly miss standout sophomore forward Devon Schell, who went down with a knee injury against John Jay-CR on January 7. Schell entered Monday's game tied with James Nicholas for the team lead in scoring with 30 points. The two first-line sophomores had a special chemistry and really made the offense special. Coach Jim Mancuso said it would be "a while" before Schell returns, so the squad will need to adapt. Against Mamaroneck, Stuart Hindmarch was bumped up to the first line. "We moved some guys around on the other two lines," the Mancuso said. "We are trying to get some more balance on our second and third lines and not rely so much on our first line, which has been doing all our scoring."
Mamaroneck 0 2 1 3
Scarsdale 2 0 0 2
SC (8:14) James Nicholas unassisted | 1-0 SC
SC (7:20) Stephen Nicholas unassisted | 2-0 SC
MK (6:57) Peter Conley from Alex Ewald | 2-1 SC
MK (3:48) Ted Bellis from Conley and Brian Schiff | 2-2 *
MK (2:55) Robert Morris from Trey Herlitz-Ferguson and Schiff 3-2
* Indicates power-play goal
Mamaroneck: Peter Conley (1G, 1A); Brian Schiff (2A); Ted Bellis (1G); Robert Morris (1G); Alex Ewald (1A); Trey Herlitz-Ferguson (1A)
Scarsdale: James Nicholas (1A); Stephen Nicholas (1G)
Mamaroneck: Thomas Brill (22 saves)
Scarsdale: Ian Marinelli (34 saves)
Mamaroneck 13 8 16 37
Scarsdale 8 7 9 24
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass