MAHOPAC, N.Y.-Hockey is one of those sports where the team that controls possession or outshoots the opponent doesn’t always win.
That was the story of Mahopac’s first round Division 1 playoff defeat to Clarkstown, 3-1, on Friday evening at the Brewster Ice Arena. The Indians outshot Clarkstown 36-16 but struggled finding the back of the net.
“I couldn’t ask for more from the guys,” Mahopac coach Tim Donaghy said. “They were working their butts off. We had four or five great opportunities to score in the first period, and we didn’t bury it. You’ve got to put away a team like them early.”
The fourth-seeded Indians beat Clarkstown twice during the regular season and looked sharp to start this contest.
They outshot their opponent 16-1 in the first period, but neither team converted as they skated into the second period in a stalemate.
With just under 10 minutes until the intermission, Clarkstown struck with a back-handed goal near the net after a string of quick passes.
Similar to the majority of the match, Mahopac worked for quality shots at the net but none of them slid through. Whether it was a deflection or one of 35 saved shots by the opposing goalie, the Indians were hungry for offense.
Clarkstown scored a long distance slapshot with less than two minutes left in the second period to double its lead.
“We were getting frustrated and trying to do too much (in the second period),” Donaghy said. “We went back to what we preached about all year (in the third period). We made the simple play and passed to the open guy.”
The away team continued to plow Mahopac’s defense with pressure early in the third period, but that didn’t last too long.
Not laying down, the Indians sped up their skates and began to seize possession for nearly the remainder of the game.
But their same problem lingered on despite several power-play opportunities. Junior T.J. McKee passed from behind the net to Mike Sottile with nine minutes left, but his shot rocketed off the goalie’s chest and back to the other side of the ice.
At last, junior forward Brian O’Shea tallied a Mahopac goal when he flicked one into the net with under five minutes to go.
The riveting goal came after a few accurate passes from McKee and senior Gianfranco Pulice as Mahopac now had life while down 2-1.
It blitzed Clarkstown’s net to the end and was granted another power-play with over three minutes to play, but couldn’t cash in.
Clarkstown made the Indians pay after a steal and transition goal on the open net with a minute left.
Keeping their fighting spirit, the Indians charged the net until they were forced to swallow a wrenching upset on their home ice.
Goalie Logan MacDougall made 13 saves which included some critical ones while the Indians were trailing by two goals already.
Despite not escaping the first round of sectionals, Mahopac (14-7) pieced together yet another winning hockey season under a brand new head coach.
“It was a tough beginning because I stepped in not knowing the kids,” Donaghy said. “We were working on a puzzle without a picture as far as the lines go, figuring out where everyone plays. But I appreciate the kids. They took me in and listened to me. I never felt like I had to prove anything to them because they accepted me and as a whole, it’s a good team and good group of kids.”