BREWSTER, N.Y. – After wins last week against Clarkstown and Pelham, John Jay took their 11-1-1 record into Friday Night’s matchup versus 8-5 Rye.
The resulting back and forth game at the Brewster Ice Arena did not surprise Coach Alex Smith.
“I expected the game to be like that,” he said. “Rye is better than their record suggests. They play a tough schedule, and Coach [Rich] Myers has his kids playing in a system that works.”
But by the time the final buzzer sounded, John Jay had plenty of separation, and the Garnets went home with a 4-1 defeat.
The first period mostly had John Jay’s Mattie Wierl and Rye’s Jonah Schultz showing their moves off on their respective ends of the ice. The strong stick and skate play did give both goalies the chance to shine, though.
But Rye’s Ben Stephenson would falter first. Wierl found Kyle Petschek from the corner, and out front. The Rye goalie didn’t stand a chance at 6:30 of first.
Stephenson (and his 32 saves on the night) did stand up pretty well as John Jay kept the pressure on. He gloved a solid wrist shot from Charlie Oestreicher and got his stick on a breakaway by Kyle Petchek. The momentum left Rye in position to ride their goalie’s play, and had Schultz weaving through the John Jay defense to even the score with 3:35 left in the first.
The 1-1 tie continued into the second and so did the strong goalie play. John Jay’s Nick Petrella, who had 28 saves, sticked away a great power-play opportunity from Schultz, and Stephenson stayed on top of the fray as an onslaught of Indians whacked away at a loose puck above the crease.
But John Jay broke through at 6:45 when Mike McKeon and Jack Browne set up Wierl to the left of Stephenson. On the other end, a Rye power play toward the end of the period had Petrella holding off the visitors again, and John Jay took a one-goal lead into intermission.
The third period continued the back and forth script, but some handy work behind the Rye net proved too much. To the back right of Stephenson, Doug Styles got the puck over to Mike McKeon, finding Browne out front.
“Bing bang, tic-tac-toe, Jack Browne took the pass in the slot,” said Smith, and John Jay had a 3-1 lead with 10:15 remaining.
From there, John Jay was able to stay a step ahead but did have to kill off a power play with 5:04 remaining.
“Nick came up huge for us in goal,” Smith said.
Still, Coach Smith felt his team was a bit out of step and was a little lacking in cohesion. At the same time, he acknowledged how a long season has all teams succumbing to these moments and credited his team for still finding a way.
“We showed character in winning a game where we didn’t play our best,” Smith concluded.