Mahopac snaps back against White Plains
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Mahopac started off the 2011-12 season in impressive fashion, winning its first three games over Newburgh, Lakeland/Panas and John Jay-Cross River.
The Indians, who averaged a robust 8.6 goals a game during the streak, garnered some buzz as a potential Section 1 Division 1 contender.
And then the wheels fell off.
Mahopac went 2-3 over its next five games, falling to teams they were supposedly better than. It started with a 7-4 loss to Yorktown on Dec. 4 and came to a head in a 3-2 loss to Lakeland/Panas on Dec. 18. It was the same L/P team the Indians had blanked, 8-0, back on November 26.
The losing was hard enough for first-year coach Chris Lombardo to handle, but the self-inflicted nature of it all made it that much worse. The Indians were undisciplined on the ice, going from a team that racked up goals to a team that racked up penalty minutes.
Following the L/P setback, Lombardo put his foot down. With three days till their next game against White Plains on Dec. 22, he turned the Indians' next few practices into endurance training sessions. The coach wore out his whistle in the process.
“This was a discipline week with the guys,” Lombardo said. “They didn't see a puck all week because of some of the penalties we took earlier in the season — and especially last weekend. The goal was to come out hard and fresh (against White Plains).”
And that's exactly what Mahopac (6-3) did, jumping out to a 3-0 first-period lead en route to a 5-1 win over the Tigers (3-4) at Ebersole Ice Rink on Thursday night.
“We just got back to the basics,” Indians junior forward John Hangach said. “The first three wins gave us a big head. Coach had to settle us down and bring us back down to earth. Mahopac has always played as the underdog. We came out today and we knew we had to make a statement.”
Hangach wasted little time doing so, scoring both of his team-high two goals during the opening period. He gave Mahopac a 1-0 lead at the 10:48 mark off an assist from senior forward Ryan Harker (1G, 1A).
“We knew we needed to come out hard and get a couple goals ahead because (White Plains) is a good team and we are tired of playing comeback hockey,” Hangach said. “We skated hard, rolled with three lines and everyone was going as hard as they could.”
Freshman forward Bradley Alexander doubled the lead with 4:04 left in the first off a setup from Mike DiPasquale and Tommy Kirincic (1G, 1A). Hangach then finished what he started, scoring a miraculous goal — which ricocheted off a White Plains player before crossing the line — as the first-period siren sounded.
“I dodged to the outside and I was looking for players on the inside and I just took a shot,” Hangach said, detailing the goal. “I knew there was only .2 seconds left and it bounced off a skate and went in.”
White Plains responded two minutes and 57 seconds into the second period behind a goal from senior forward Drew Ahlers, who stuffed in a rebound to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Unlike in the past, Mahopac kept its composure down the stretch. Harker and Kirincic scored a goal apiece in the third period to slam the door on the Tigers.
In a reversal of roles, it was actually White Plains that struggled with self-inflicted wounds. The Tigers committed eight penalties on the game, including five in the decisive third period. Of course, the Indians weren't exactly innocent bystanders, as they sent a total of five players to the box. It's worth noting, however, that three of Mahopac's penalties came inside the final minute of regulation with the outcome already in hand.
“The guys did a nice job today being disciplined,” Lombardo said.
With undefeated Brewster up next on Friday evening, Mahopac can't afford to let its bad habits creep back in.
“If you aren't tough in your own end against (Brewster), they are going to kill you,” Lombardo said. “We want to be smarter defensively as a unit.”
GAME NOTES: The five goals were the most Mahopac had scored since Nov. 27, when it pulled off a thrilling 7-6 win over John Jay-Cross River to improve to 3-0 … Mahopac's Hangach leads the team in scoring with 12 goals, while Harker leads the team in points with 22 (9G, 13A) … White Plains is 0-3 when standout senior forward Paul Variano doesn't score a goal.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. White Plains struggles to finish: White Plains has now scored a goal or less in three of its seven games this year. In 2010, the Tigers were held to a goal or less three times over the course of their entire 23-game season.
2. Indians hit the ice skating: Mahopac, which jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead, wasted little time taking control of the game. Hangach buried both of his goals during the opening surge, including a once-in-a-lifetime shot that deflected off a White Plains defender and into the net as time expired. That was the ultimate backbreaker for the Tigers.
3. Barletta stands strong in net: Mahopac goalie Anthony Barletta had an unheralded effort with 33 saves. The lone goal he relinquished came off a rebound. “(Barletta) made some great saves — especially in the first period when it was still 0-0,” Lombardo said. “And even when it was 1-0 and 2-0 he made some outstanding saves. It was definitely big for him to step up like that.”
PAC (10:48) John Hangach from Ryan Harker | 1-0 PAC
PAC (4:04) Bradley Alexander from Mike DiPasquale and Tommy Kirincic | 2-0 PAC
PAC (0:01) Hangach unassisted | 3-0 PAC
WP (13:03) Drew Ahlers from Antonio Cappello | 3-1 PAC
PAC (12:06) Harker from Matthew DeRosa | 4-1 PAC
PAC (3:19) Kirincic from Brandon Fitzpatrick | 5-1 PAC *
* Indicates power-play goal
Mahopac: John Hangach (2G); Ryan Harker (1G, 1A); Tommy Kirincic (1G, 1A); Bradley Alexander (1G); Brandon Fitzpatrick (1G); Matthew DeRosa (1A); Mike DiPasquale (1A);
White Plains: Drew Ahlers (1G); Antonio Cappello (1A)
Mahopac: Anthony Barletta (33 saves)
White Plains: Chris Stangarone (27 saves)
White Plains: 10 14 10 34
Mahopac: 11 7 14 32
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass