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After facing three quality upstate squads to begin the 2011-12 season, Pelham returned to the world of Section 1 hockey on Tuesday.
Based on the outcome, New Rochelle probably wished the Pelicans had stayed away.
The defending Section 1 Division 2 champs put together an all-around dominating performance en route a 7-1 win over the host Huguenots at the Ice Hutch.
According to sophomore forward Andrew Schauer, the result was all due to an early dose of heavy lifting. The battle-tested Pelicans (3-1) emerged from the upstate gauntlet a stronger team, rebounding from a heartbreaking season-opening loss to Glens Falls with back-to-back wins over Section 2's Queensbury and Shaker-Colonie.
“It's a great way to start off the season,” said Schauer, who led the way against New Rochelle with a goal and two assists. “You have such a high standard and then you come back and use that same high standard and blow through the Section 1 teams down here. We go up there and get the pace rolling.”
It was a pace the Huguenots (3-2) simply couldn't keep up with.
Pelham stormed out of the gate to grab a 2-0 first-period lead, outshooting the Huguenots 15-5 in the process.
“Our offense played well and our defense limited their shots,” senior captain Matt Landis said. “I thought we came out shot-out-of-a-cannon.”
Senior captain Graham Lambdin drew first blood with 7:27 left in the opening period, burying his team-high fifth goal of the season to give the Pelicans an early 1-0 lead. Lambdin cashed in after creating a turnover near the blue line. He retrieved the puck, knifed into the heart of New Rochelle's defense and unleashed a wrist shot that ricocheted off goalie Greg Feliu and into the net. Freshman Hogan Peters (1G, 1A) doubled the lead at the 4:31 mark, pouncing on a rebound off a shot from Schauer at the point.
Both goals were the product of Pelham's relentless two-man forecheck, which made it nearly impossible for New Rochelle to smoothly transition the puck from defense to offense.
“We out-worked them,” said senior captain Danny Shea, who returned to the ice after serving a one-game suspension for a game misconduct penalty. “We got our two-man forecheck in and we were able to make turnovers and then capitalize on them.”
Schauer offered further insight on the two-man forecheck, which doubles as Pelham's bread and butter.
“Once we get the puck in deep, we had a two-man forecheck that really helped us,” he said. “We are the type of the team that gets the puck deep and works low. We can't work from the point.
“The two-man forecheck really helps. That's all about hustle. That's not skill at all — that's all about hustle.”
Schauer's hard work paid off with 6:30 left in the second period, as he scored off a pretty feed from Shea (1G, 1A) to increase the lead to 3-0. Eric Alpert then made it 4-0 two minutes and 55 seconds later, deflecting in a heat-seeking slap shot that Landis unleashed from the blue line.
Pelham turned it into overdrive in the final period, outscoring New Rochelle 3-1 to close it out. Shea, Joe Curto and Will Mac Innis notched a goal apiece during the game-sealing run.
Brett Barry scored the Huguenots' lone goal on a power play with 5:26 left in the game. He was setup by teammates John Valente and Chris Ramondelli.
“We outworked everyone and were able to do everything right X's and O's-wise,” Shea said. “It just clicked.”
GAME NOTES: Pelham suffered a rash of early-season injuries, but they are slowly getting back to health. Star senior captain Colin Reilly, who had been limited by an injured thumb, played his second straight game. He made his season debut against Shaker-Colonie on December 3. According to Landis, the Pelicans hope to have David Morgan (ankle) and Hunter Lambdin (back spasms) back on the ice in a couple of games … Pelham freshman forward Hogan Peters notched his first career goal and assist. It also marked the first career goal for sophomore forward Eric Alpert.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Pelham's depth too much: Pelham dipped deep into its expansive roster and rolled out six lines. As a result, the Pelicans were able to keep up their maddening pace.
2. New Ro's power-play short circuits: New Rochelle failed to take advantage of its power-play opportunities, converting just one of its eight chances.
3. Pelham pressure suffocates Huguenots: The Pelicans' two-man forecheck was suffocating and resulted in a slew of turnovers that directly led to goals.
Pelham (7:27) Graham Lambdin unassisted | 1-0 Pelham
Pelham (4:31) Hogan Peters from Andrew Schauer | 2-0 Pelham
Pelham (6:30) Schauer from Danny Shea | 3-0 Pelham *
Pelham (3:55) Eric Alpert from Matt Landis | 4-0 Pelham
Pelham (7:45) Shea from Colin Reilly and Will Cullen | 5-0 Pelham
Pelham (6:32) Joe Curto from Andrew Dzenis | 6-0 Pelham
New Rochelle (5:26) Brett Barry from John Valente and Chris Ramondelli | Pelham 6-1 *
Pelham (3:15) Will Mac Innis from Peters and Schauer | 7-1 Pelham
* Indicates power-play goal
Pelham: Andrew Schauer (1G, 2A); Danny Shea (1G, 1A); (Hogan Peters (1G, 1A); Graham Lambdin (1G); Joe Curto (1G); Eric Alpert (1G); Will Mac Innis (1G); Matt Landis (1A); Andrew Dzenis (1A); Colin Reilly (1A); Will Cullen (1A)
New Rochelle: Brett Barry (1G); John Valente (1A); Chris Ramondelli (1A)
Pelham: Josh Borofsky (19 saves)
New Rochelle: Greg Feliu (34 saves)
Pelham 15 14 12 41
New Rochelle 5 10 5 20
* Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass *