BREWSTER, N.Y.— After speeding into the postseason on a three-game winning streak, the pieces continued to click for the Mahopac Indians in their 8-0 shutout of No. 11-seeded Lakeland/Panas in the first round of the Division 1 sectionals on Sunday, Feb. 19, at Brewster Ice Arena.
Sixth-seeded Mahopac sat in the driver’s seat from start to finish, as junior forward Gianfranco Pulice drew first blood with an uncontested mid-range goal halfway through the first period.
Just two minutes later, sophomore forward T.J. McKee began his scoring spree by sending in a goal from 20-feet away as the Indians led 2-0.
While Mahopac continued to pressure the Rebels’ defense, the intensity of a rivalry match came to light when a Mahopac player was ejected after a fight.
“Our emotions got a little out of control early,” Mahopac co-coach Mike Woodrow said. “Once we settled down in the second (period), we were really able to show what we can do with our skill and we got a flow to put the puck in the net.”
Awarded an opportunity to bounce back, Lakeland/Panas played the first three-and-a-half minutes of the second period up a man.
It was McKee’s night to shine, as he dashed past a defender and netted a shorthanded goal off a lob pass from Brendan Groth two minutes into the period.
“It’s cool being a leader,” McKee said. “It’s cool to lead by example and to just get ice time (being a sophomore). We picked our heads up today and broke the puck out of the zone well.”
Not finished yet, the super sophomore McKee weaved into the lane and knocked home another score. The hat-trick-completing goal boosted Mahopac’s edge to 4-0 with 11 minutes to go in the second period.
“[McKee’s] a natural playmaker who knows how to finish,” Woodrow said. “That’s a tough combination to stop. Especially in a rink like this, where there is lots of ice for him to move around. He will get his looks and put the puck away.”
Senior goalie Peter Siolas gloved one of the Rebels’ few threats when Kyle Carroll drove straight at the net four minutes later. Siolas racked up 15 total saves.
With four minutes left in the period, Nick Bricker backhanded another power-play goal on a pass from Ryan Moody as the Indians increased their advantage to 5-0.
The avalanche rolled on when junior John Dignam scored on a dish from Pulice after charging to the goal with two minutes left in the period.
“We just kept it simple,” Dignam said. “The key for next game will be to stay out of the penalty box.”
Several of Mahopac’s 36 shots on goal caromed off the post, while so did Pulice’s as the crowd watched the puck slide past the crease one minute after the last goal.
“We talked about how we sometimes don’t take advantage when we have opportunities,” Woodrow said. “We really ended the season on a huge roll. The kids picked up on that, and did not let it fall apart. They worked really hard.”
After a massive five-goal second period, the Indians cruised into the third with a commanding 7-0 lead.
Moody added one more goal during the third period. McKee booked a stellar night, tallying three goals and two assists. Both senior captain Joe Geary and J.P. McKenzie assisted goals as well.
Scorching into the second round, Mahopac (14-5-2) iced off with another local rival in Brewster/Yorktown on Feb. 21. The Indians fell to them, 5-4, in a frustrating regular season defeat in December.
“We are going to need a lot of effort,” McKee said. “The juices were flowing tonight. Everyone was looking to score and that’s what we need against them too.”