MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Senior captain Jack Browne scored two of his team-high 21 goals in the first period of a 3-2 win over Pelham on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon.
It was the seventh straight victory for John Jay, who looks again like a team beat in Section 1.
Scoring on a power-play goal with 5:17 to go in the opening period, Browne and the Indians drew first blood against the Pelicans (5-5-2), the team they beat in last year’s section finals. Less than three minutes later, Browne took advantage of another power play, putting John Jay up 2-0.
Pelham cut into the lead early in the second, but John Jay answered right back. With 11 minutes to go in the period, freshman Kyle Petschek scored his 10th goal of the season, putting the Indians up 3-1.
“He’s Johnny on the spot,” Coach Alex Smith said of the freshman goal scorer, who scored again on Jan. 17 in a 7-0 win over Clarkstown. “He’s got a good shot and he’s always in the right spot. The puck always seems to find guys who are in the right spot.”
The Pelicans added another goal with a minute to go, but John Jay held on for the 3-2 win.
“It was good to win down at the Ice Hutch,” Smith said. “I think that’s the first time we’ve won down at the Ice Hutch in all the years we’ve gone to play them. It was a one-goal game. The puck bounces the wrong way, they could have won.”
It was another strong game for John Jay goalie Nick Petrella, a senior, who stopped 21 of 23 shots. After shutting out Clarkstown three days later, he improved to 10-1-1 with a 1.26 GAA (goals-against average) and a .935 save percentage.
“He’s been really steady,” Smith said. “His positioning has been very strong. Sometimes that leads you to believe he’s not making the acrobatic saves. But he’s in good position 97 percent of the time.”
As of Friday, Jan. 17, John Jay had outscored their opponents this year 69-17 (45-11 during the eight-game winning streak).
Browne has led the way offensively for John Jay, scoring 21 goals and 11 assists. His linemate, sophomore Tyler Wishart, has also been a force to be reckoned with, scoring 15 goals and 8 assists. Though he doesn’t show up in the box score as often has his linemates, sophomore Doug Styles sets the table for Browne and Wishart, Smith said.
“That top line is really producing for us,” the coach said.
Anchoring things on the defensive end have been players like captain Charlie Oestreicher, assistant captain Tyler Petschek, Justin DeLucia and Ethan Jackson.
“One of our strengths is our defensive core,” Smith said. “Guys who score goals get a lot of attention and they deserve it. But the defense is really the backbone of your team.”
Despite the strong start, the back-to-back section champions aren’t allowing themselves to think about the postseason.
“There’s so much that can happen between now and the end of the season,” Smith said. “I don’t think that we’re sneaking up on anybody like we did last year. We just want to be ready for the next game. You can’t really look too far down the road.”
John Jay will come up against some stiff competition in their effort to win a third-straight section title. Smith said the goal is to take it one game at a time and secure home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
“We need to continue to play our structure and we need to play our system,” he said “Even though we’re [11-1-1], we don’t have a lot of margin for error. If we don’t play the way we’re supposed to play, anyone can knock us off.”