Scarsdale Raiders West Point-bound
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RYE, N.Y. — Scarsdale's magical playoff run has doubled as a revenge quest.
It started with Wednesday's upset of top-seeded Brewster, which coasted past the Raiders back in early January.
And it continued on Friday night at the Playland Ice Casino.
The No. 8-seeded Raiders (15-8) overcame a 3-0 first-period deficit to shock the No. 4-seeded Garnets (14-6-2), 6-4, in the Section 1 Division 2 semifinals. Scarsdale — which fell in lopsided fashion to the Garnets in December — will square off against No. 2-seeded Pelham in the championship on Sunday at West Point's Tate Rink at 1:30 p.m.
Based on the way things have gone thus far, defending champ Pelham — which edged the Raiders, 4-2, exactly nine days ago — has to be at least a little leery.
“We are showing how much we have improved over the season because we are beating teams that we lost to earlier in the season,” Scarsdale senior captain Travis Misarti said. “We have a lot of momentum going into this game against Pelham and we want to upset them just like we have upset the past two teams.”
Against Rye, the Raiders rode a tidal wave of momentum that crested in the third period. Scarsdale outscored the Garnets 4-0 over the final 15 minutes of regulation and got the biggest goal from an unlikely name.
Junior forward Stuart Hindmarch scored it at the 7:47 mark of the third, corralling and finishing a precise pass from Misarti to give the Raiders a 5-4 lead. It was just his second career varsity goal.
“I tried to celebrate, but I didn't know what was going on,” said a breathless Hindmarch, who played sparingly in the first period. “I couldn't process it.”
The split-second of euphoria was the result of a strong second-period performance, when Hindmarch was given an opportunity to skate with the second line.
“It's me and a few kids that are on the third line, so I guess someone had to step into the second line,” Hindmarch said. “All of us step it up as hard as we can every chance we can. I tried as hard as I could on that one (second-period shift) and I continued to get playing time. It ended up leading toward that goal and I couldn't believe it happened.”
Misarti, who doled out two assists, couldn't have been happier for his teammate.
“We have had a couple of players scoring most of our big goals lately,” Misarti said. “It was great seeing one of the players who doesn't get as much time stepping up and getting a huge goal for us.”
Scarsdale got ample production from its household names, too. James Nicholas, a high-flying freshman phenom, totaled two goals and an assist. He evened the game at 4-4 with 12:19 left in the third and added an empty-netter inside the final minute of regulation. Fellow freshman Devon Schell added a pair of goals to help the Raiders keep pace. He trimmed the deficit to 3-1 with 3:39 left in the opening period and then to 3-2 with 5:40 left in the second. Explosive sophomore Hunter Jurman (1G, 1A) sparked the third-period surge, cutting Rye's lead to 4-3 at the 13:50 mark.
The avalanche of goals buried Rye's season alive.
“In the third period, we made a couple bad mistakes and had a couple meltdowns,” Garnets coach Jason Friesen said. “The next thing you know it was tied and they got that fifth one and we couldn't seem to get it turned around. We couldn't seem to fight that momentum swing.”
It was a shocking end for Rye, which looked so dominant early on. Jack O'Brien, Ryan Rogers and Michael Benincasa each tallied first-period goals as the Garnets looked destined for another showdown with archnemesis Pelham in the championship. The two powerhouses had met in the Division 2 finals three out of the last four years.
But the Raiders refused to let history repeat.
“We never give up,” Misarti said. “That's the thing about our team. We always have confidence no matter how many we are down by.”
GAME NOTES: Scarsdale — which has never won a Section 1 title — is making its first trip to the championship game since the 2004-05 season. Ironically, the Raiders lost to Pelham, 5-1, that year … Hunter Jurman leads Scarsdale in scoring with 44 points (23G, 21A), while teammate James Nicholas is second with 38 points (18G, 20A) … Michael Benincasa finished the year as Rye's leading scorer with 50 points (16G, 34A), while teammate Ryan Rogers was second with 37 points (14G, 23A) … Rye's streak of five straight D2 title game appearances came to an end.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Sweet six-spot: For the third consecutive game, Scarsdale's offense produced six goals, which were the most Rye had given up to a Section 1 team all year. The Raiders only got stronger as the game progressed, outshooting Rye 13-12 in the second period and 9-5 in the third. If one player has stood out the most during the impressive three-game run, it has to be freshman forward James Nicholas. He's totaled a team-high nine points (5G, 4A) thus far in the playoffs.
2. Scarsdale tightens the screws after rocky start: Rye skated circles around Scarsdale in the opening period and built an early lead. The Raiders responded in the second period with a suffocating defensive approach. “(Coach Jim Mancuso) told us that he wasn't happy with our defense,” captain Travis Misarti said. “He stressed in the locker room that we were giving (Rye) too much in the neutral zone. We were letting them go right around us, so we tried to shut them down more.”
3. Matt Blakley to the rescue: When top Scarsdale defenseman Rob Burns went down with an injury at the 11:44 mark of the third period, it could have easily derailed the Raiders' comeback efforts. At the time, the two teams were even at 4-4. Instead, Matt Blakley shifted back from forward to defense and Scarsdale didn't skip a beat. That kind of versatility throughout the lineup is invaluable.
Scarsdale 1 1 4 6
Rye 3 1 0 4
RYE (11:56) Jack O'Brien from Michael Benincasa | 1-0 RYE
RYE (11:08) Ryan Rogers from Kirk Holmes | 2-0 RYE
RYE (4:05) Benincasa from Cal Hynson | 3-0 Rye
SCD (3:49) Devon Schell from Travis Misarti | 3-1 RYE
SCD (5:40) Schell from Hunter Jurman and James Nicholas | 3-2 RYE
RYE (2:25) Griffin Tutun from Hynson | 4-2 RYE
SCD (13:50) Jurman from Ian Klein | 4-3 RYE
SCD (12:19) Nicholas from Sam Blakley | 4-4
SCD (7:47) Stuart Hindmarch form Misarti | 5-4 SCD
SCD (46.9) Nicholas unassisted | 6-4 SCD
Scarsdale: James Nicholas (2G, 1A); Devon Schell (2G); Travis Misarti (2A); Hunter Jurman (1G, 1A); Stuart Hindmarch (1G); Sam Blakley (1A); Ian Klein (1A)
Rye: Michael Benincasa (1G, 2A); Cal Hynson (2A); Ryan Rogers (1G); Griffin Tutun (1G); Jack O'Brien (1G); Kirk Holmes (1A)
Scarsdale: Connor Wolfe (24 saves)
Rye: Aidan Talgo (27 saves)
Scarsdale 9 13 9 33
Rye 11 12 5 28
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass