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When Suffern was upset by White Plains back on December 6, the air of invincibility surrounding the defending state champs seemed to vanish.
Of course, a lot can change over the course of two weeks.
The Mounties (6-1) looked as untouchable as ever against Pelham (2-1-2) on Friday night, cruising to a 6-1 win over the defending Section 1 D2 champs at Sport-O-Rama.
"We came out fired up and the crowd was loud and we just thrived off it," Suffern's Kevin Hill said. "When you are playing at Sport-O-Rama — and you have that crowd going — it is easy to score goals and easy to get fired up."
Hill made it look downright simple. The junior forward did all his damage in the second period, scoring three straight goals to help Suffern blow the game wide open. Overall, the Mounties outscored the Pelicans 5-0 during the decisive second stanza.
"Once you score one, the floodgates seem to open and that's what happened tonight in the second period," said Hill, who struck for his first goal at the 13:09 mark to make it 3-1.
Suffern coach Rob Schelling has come to expect such production from his top sniper.
"(Hill) is just a pure goal scorer," Schelling said. "The kid can score at any moment and he's starting to do all the little things, too. He's one heck of a hockey player."
So, too, is teammate Tom Brennan. The junior defenseman, who tallied a career-high two goals, unknotted a 1-1 tie just one minute and 28 seconds into the second period. He unleashed a long-range laser from the point that deflected off Pelham goalie Matt DeYoung and into the roof of the net.
"I didn't even know it went in," said Brennan, who scored on a power play to cap the offensive explosion with 1:52 left in the second. "I was just trying to throw the puck on net and hope for the best."
For Pelham, the second period was a house of horrors.
"We had a really bad second period and (Suffern) ate us up," Pelicans coach Ed Witz said. "If you are playing a team that's ranked No. 1 in the state and you don't give three full periods, they are going to take advantage. That's why they are who they are."
The 15-minute lapse spoiled an otherwise stellar performance by Pelham, which outshot Suffern 7-4 in the opening period and 6-3 in the third. Justin Tiso gave the Mounties a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into regulation, but the Pelicans weathered the storm and battled back. Will Cullen scored on a power play even the game up at 1-1 with 1:57 left in the first.
But Pelham's momentum fizzled when the teams skated off the ice and the Zamboni drove on. Suffern held a 10-4 shots on goal advantage in the crucial second period, finding plenty of space to comfortably operate in front of the Pelicans' net.
"We were a little reckless in the second period," Witz said. "We didn't play very well defensively in front of our net in the second period. We kind of vacated and we paid the price. In the first period, we were with them and it was an even period and I thought the third period was even."
The Mounties played it safe during the final period, counting on netminder Nick Modica (17 saves) to protect the five-goal lead.
Suffern has now won three straight games since the White Plains loss, outscoring the opposition a combined 19-3 during the stretch.
"We are all pretty happy with the outcome," Brennan said.
Rest-assured, the rest of Section 1 is not. As it turns out, the power structure was the same as it ever was.
GAME NOTES: Dating back to the 2008-09 season, Suffern is 8-0-1 against Pelham. The Mounties have outscored the Pelicans by a combined total of 42-5 during the nine-game stretch … Kevin Hill leads the Mounties in scoring with 17 points (10G, 7A) … Defenseman Will Cullen has scored in three straight games and leads Pelham in scoring with 10 points (6G, 4A).
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Second period domination: In the second period, it looked like last year's decorated Suffern squad was back on the ice. That's how impressive the Mounties were during the decisive 15-minute stretch, which saw them outscore Pelham 5-0. Tom Brennan sparked and capped the surge, while Kevin Hill buried all three of his goals in between. When coach Rob Schelling's squad gets into a groove like that at Sport-O-Rama, they are nearly unbeatable.
2. Modica-led defense impresses again: Pelham's potent offense, which entered the night averaging 4.5 goals a game, was limited to a season-low one goal. Suffern's defense — which is led by first-year starting goalie Nick Modica — quietly strung together another stellar performance. The Mounties have let up just three goals over the past three games and have a measly 1.4 goals against average overall. "We win because of our defense," coach Schelling said. "I firmly believe (Modica) is the best goalie in the state. We have him and we play a defensive style. Our defense is really starting to come together and this is what we want."
3. Pelicans missing Schauer's power: Pelham was without leading scorer Andrew Schauer, who has been sidelined with a head injury that he suffered during a scrimmage earlier in the year. It goes without saying he would've made a huge difference for the Pelicans on Friday night. "No timetable on (Schauer's) return," coach Ed Witz said. "We hope to get him back soon, but because it is a head injury we are going to take every precaution and wait and wait and wait."
Pelham 1 0 0 1
Suffern 1 5 0 6
SU (13:38) Justin Tiso from Nick Jaeger | 1-0 SU
PE (1:57) Will Cullen from Hugh McNulty | 1-1 *
SU (13:32) Tom Brennan from CJ Greco | 2-1 SU
SU (13:09) Kevin Hill from Robert Clark and John Costa | 3-1 SU
SU (6:25) Hill unassisted | 4-1 SU
SU (3:37) Hill from Tiso | 5-1 SU *
SU (1:52) Brennan from Tiso | 6-1 SU *
* Indicates power-play goal
Pelham: Will Cullen (1G); Hugh McNulty (1A)
Suffern: Kevin Hill (3G, 1A); Justin Tiso (1G, 2A); Tom Brennan (2G); Nick Jaeger (1A); CJ Greco (1A); Robert Clark (1A); John Costa (1A)
Pelham: Matt DeYoung (11 saves)
Suffern: Nick Modica (17 saves)
Pelham 7 5 6 18
Suffern 4 10 3 17
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass