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Prior to this year, Rye's Connor McGovern had only experienced the classic Rye-Pelham rivalry from the stands.
On Tuesday, the Iona Prep transfer played a starring role in it on the ice. McGovern notched a goal and an assist as the Garnets (15-4-1) shocked Pelham, 3-2, at Hommocks Park Ice Rink.
"I was looking forward to the Pelham game," said McGovern, who watched last year's showdown at a jam-packed Playland Ice Casino. "It was real fun watching last year and I really looked forward to playing it this year. The crowd really pumps you up and you are moving your feet out there. It was a fun game."
It was also wholly satisfying for the Garnets, who snapped a three-game losing streak to the Pelicans (10-5-2) that dated back to the 2009 season.
"In the four years that I've been on this team, this is the first time we've ever beat Pelham, so it is unreal," Rye senior captain Jason Chin said. "This is the best game I've ever played in — hands down."
Rye wasted little time wresting control of the game, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead after two periods. Cal Hynson scored the game's first goal on a breakaway off a Pelham turnover near the blue line.
"Pelham had a really bad turnover by the blue line and I just picked it up, saw the five-hole open and shot it," Hynson said of the goal.
The junior forward then skated over toward the overflowing Rye fanbase and riled them up in celebration.
"Last year, (Pelham) beat us 5-0, so I didn't really get to do anything," Hynson said. "This year, I knew I'd go right to the fans because they'd celebrate real good."
And it was just the beginning for a loud and proud Garnets cheering section.
Chin whipped them into a frenzy four minutes and 33 seconds into the second period, blasting a slap shot into the upper left corner of the net off a faceoff win by McGovern.
"It was a face-off in the zone and McGovern won the draw clean and it came right out to me," Chin said, detailing the goal. "I hit a one-timer top left. I got pretty lucky."
Things kept going Rye's way, too. McGovern extended the lead to 3-0 with 7:26 left in the second, flipping in a puck off a rebound. It capped another big day for the junior center, who had a similarly clutch performance in the Garnets' win over previously undefeated John Jay-CR earlier in the season.
"(McGovern) has been huge," Chin said. "He has been scoring goals and been one of our top centers this year. He's done it all."
The two-time defending Section 1 D2 champs finally came to life in the second period, outscoring Rye 2-0 to make things interesting down the stretch.
Andrew Dzenis got the Pelicans on the board with 8:06 left and Will Donovan made it a one-goal game at the 3:59 mark. Pelham had a handful of chances inside a hectic final minute but couldn't stuff a puck past Rye goalie Aidan Talgo (20 saves).
"Our guys started to play with a little more urgency," Pelicans coach Ed Witz said of the third-period revival.
Overall, Witz wasn't too concerned with the loss, which he said will likely result in a No. 4 seed in the upcoming sectional playoffs. Rye, meanwhile, should be in line to receive the No. 2 seed, likely placing the rivals on separate sides of the bracket.
"If we didn't have such a good third period, I'd say it does hurt us," Witz said of the defeat. "But it's a good wakeup call if guys think we can play two periods like that and come out with a win. The fact is they came back in the third period and realized that if we do what we are supposed to do, we can win."
On this night, however, it was Rye's turn to bask in a victory. As Garnets coach Jason Friesen made his way off the ice and opened the locker room door, he let out a gigantic roar. His players responded in chorus, filling the tiny room with decibel-busting noise.
"He doesn't usually do that, but that was one of the best moments," Hynson said.
Withe the playoffs looming, the Garnets hope this season holds a bunch more just like it.
"It definitely feels like we have some momentum going toward the playoffs," Chin said. "This was a great win to get us going and we are all excited about the playoffs."
GAME NOTES: In the last seven games between the two rivals, five have been decided by a single goal.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1) Pelham doomed by second-period penalties: Pelham saw the game slip away in the second period. The Pelicans, who were outscored 2-0, were called for four penalties to Rye's zero. While the Garnets didn't cash in on a power-play goal, they dominated possession and outshot Pelham 10-5.
2) Rye limits Schauer and Cullen: Rye keyed in on Pelham's top two guns Andrew Schauer and Will Cullen, limiting the duo to just an assist apiece. Both players tend to handle the puck a lot and use their speed and skills to create opportunities attacking the net. The Garnets were ready for it. "We knew they would try and skate the puck up so we tried to push them to a side, pinch, close them off and make sure they couldn't get to the net," Hynson said.
Pelham 0 0 2 2
Rye 1 2 0 3
RY (4:17) Cal Hynson unassisted | 1-0 RY
RY (10:23) Jason Chin from Connor McGovern | 2-0 RY
RY (7:26) McGovern from Brendan Tripodi and Max Bresolin | 3-0 RY
PE (8:06) Andrew Dzenis from Will Cullen | 3-1 RY
PE (3:59) Will Donovan from Andrew Schauer and Hunter Lambdin | 3-2 RY
Pelham: Andrew Dzenis (1G); Will Donovan (1G); Will Cullen (1A); Andrew Schauer (1A); Hunter Lambdin (1A)
Rye: Connor McGovern (1G, 1A); Cal Hynson (1G); Jason Chin (1G); Brendan Tripodi (1A); Max Bresolin (1A)
Pelham: Matt DeYoung (15 saves)
Rye: Aidan Talgo (20 saves)
Pelham 6 5 11 22
Rye 6 10 2 18
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass