BREWSTER, N.Y.— With the game tied heading into the third period, Mahopac’s varsity ice hockey team needed a spark and the Indians found one in the form of two goals as they defeated Somers/North Salem 5-3 on Friday, Dec. 9, at Brewster Ice Arena.
Sophomore T.J. McKee scored his second goal of the contest to break the tie with 6:11 left in the game. Fellow sophomore Brian O’Shea notched the assist.
“We weren’t happy with our play through two periods,” Mahopac co-coach Michael Woodrow said. “Although we controlled the time of possession, a bad penalty and too many odd man rushes led to a tie game. Somers/North Salem has some really skilled offensive players that thrive on the rush, and we made it too easy for them. The solution was simple: play the game in the offensive zone, but be smart at the blue line. We outshot them 13-3 in the third and we really dictated the play. The defense also simplified and played a smart period.”
Junior captain Gianfranco Pulice sealed the win on an empty-net goal with just seconds to play.
“Our main focus was to protect the 4-3 lead,” Pulice said. “I saw that one of their players lost possession of the puck for a second and capitalized on the chance to get the puck out of our zone. Luckily, I shot the puck with enough force for it to reach all the way down the ice and go in.”
Pulice, who had a goal and two assists, said keeping it simple was the key to pulling away in the third period.
“We wanted to focus on the defensive end first, and to have defense lead into offense,” he said. “I believe we executed this game plan very well in the third period, and it helped us pull away for the win.”
Mahopac took the early 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal from O’Shea midway through the first period. Brandon LaSpina countered with an unassisted goal with 56.7 seconds left in the first period to tie the game at 1-1.
The Indians built a 3-1 lead with two goals over a 30-second span early in the second period. McKee scored with the assist going to Pulice with 9:43 left. Pulice then set up senior J.P. McKenzie for a goal to stretch the lead to 3-1.
Nick Caleri answered to cut Mahopac’s lead to 3-2. Anthony Morea tied the game up with 3:43 left in the second period.
Senior Peter Siolas made 11 saves in net for a Mahopac team which outshot Somers/North Salem 34-14.
Mahopac (3-1-1) faces Brewster/Yorktown at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, at Brewster Ice Arena. The Indians then take on Horace Greeley two days later at 6:20 p.m. at the same venue.
“The overall key to our successful start has been that we are working hard and playing as a team,” Pulice said. “Everyone has been showing up to practice and working to improve the team. I believe that if we continue to have this mentality the success will carry on.”