CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The John Jay hockey team isn’t going to surprise anybody this postseason.
An underdog Section 1 Division II champion a year ago, the Indians have been a dominant force this season, at one point winning 14 games in a row on their way to a 17-2-1 record.
“Last year we kind of came in under the radar,” said Coach Alex Smith. “This season’s different. We’ve been out on the front page most of the season.”
John Jay, having earned the No. 1 seed, begins their section title defense at 8:15 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 27) at the Brewster Ice Arena. Their semifinal opponent will be No. 4 Horace Greeley, which defeated No 5. Pearl River on Monday. The finals are scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, March 1, also at Brewster.
The Indians finished their regular season on Thursday, Feb. 18, with a 5-2 defeat to Suffern, the top seed in the Section 1 Division I tournament.
“We played a very fast team and I thought there were a couple of times where mentally we broke down,” Smith said. Twice, the coach added, “We gave up a power-play goal and they scored on the next shift. We need to be a little mentally tougher when things are not going our way.”
The key to winning in the playoffs, Smith said, is to avoid mistakes without playing tight.
“We want to make sure we’re paying attention to the little things,” Smith said. “Playoffs are a different animal. Lose one game and you’re done. So, you have to avoid any long stretches of [poor play].”
To avoid any rust between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, John Jay scrimmaged against Mamaroneck on Friday, Feb. 21.