BREWSTER, N.Y.— After falling in a one-goal heartbreaker to Brewster/Yorktown during the regular season, the sixth-seeded Mahopac Indians earned the ultimate payback with a 4-2 Section 1 Division 1 quarterfinal victory on Feb. 21 at the Brewster Ice Arena.
Down 2-1 entering the magical third period, a low-energy Mahopac team had the crowd worried for its season.
“We definitely came into the locker room a little down,” senior captain Chris Bednar said. “Coach (Mike Woodrow) gave us a speech and really hyped us up. We all realized that this could be the last period and it all clicked for us.”
Icing off the third period with two power-play advantages in a row certainly helped wake up their inner effort.
Of course it was Bednar who tapped in the game-tying goal on a pass behind the net from sophomore T.J. McKee with 11 action-packed minutes remaining in the match.
Finally playing with more vigor, the Indians continued to watch their star goalie, Peter Siolas, amaze everyone with his acrobatic saves. He unbelievably totaled 43 of them, and Mahopac needed every one of them to win.
“It was a crazy sequence of events,” Siolas said. “It was a lot of fun doing it. I knew there was a chance (to win) if we were only down by one. We didn’t come ready to play. But in the third period, something clicked and we never looked back.”
The senior kicked Colin Dineen’s shot off his legs after he broke away for an open fast-break chance with nine minutes left on the clock.
“That’s the thing about hockey,” Mahopac co-coach Mike Woodrow said. “You’ve got this position that can win a game for you. Peter absolutely did that. We said that this kid could be the best in the section when we first met him.”
McKee followed up to award Mahopac a 3-2 lead after a quick steal with six minutes to go.
The stud forward proceeded to tuck the puck away from the defender and swiftly backhand the goal into the net.
“We found it deep inside of us to just work hard and get the puck deep,” McKee said. “All of our seniors really stepped up and talked about how this was going to be their last period of hockey. We wanted to make sure to end it on a good effort.”
Third-seeded Brewster/Yorktown responded by turning the heat back on the workhorse Siolas. He was still up for the challenge, deflecting Connor Sullivan’s rocket of a shot away with his stick with only three minutes to spare.
Forward Robert Barone whacked the opponent’s final slapshot that Siolas bopped into mid-air as the clock read 60 seconds.
Desperate for another opportunity to score, Brewster/Yorktown called a timeout with 23.5 seconds left and emptied its net.
It only took junior Gianfranco Pulice nine seconds to control the puck and slide it on target for the insurance goal to put the stamp on the win. The star forward also dished for two assists as did McKee.
Mahopac went through a metamorphosis prior to the third period, losing most fights for loose pucks and barely maintaining any possession.
“[Brewster/Yorktown] changed their fore-check a little bit,” Woodrow said. “We were really struggling with their speed. They had less aggression and it opened up the ability for our defense to make some passes. Coach (Shaun) McGee was fiddling with the lines and really found a combination that worked in the third period.”
Trailing 1-0 with five minutes remaining in the first period, Bednar again put the Indians on the board with a long and high shot that soared through the tiniest gap of heads.
During the second period, Siolas was pressured into making saves left, right and upside down. Brewster/Yorktown cashed in midway through the period on Sullivan’s pass from the corner to the center that Jean Marc-Groux smacked home.
“I just told [my teammates] that we are winning this game,” Siolas said. “I didn’t know how we were going to do it, because we were getting outworked and nothing was going right. I just told them that we are winning this game, and that I don’t care how we do it. I still can’t believe it.”
Mahopac’s (15-6-2) improbable run ended on Friday evening at Sport-O-Rama after it fell for the third time this season to second-seeded Suffern, 5-3, in the semifinals.
The Indians battled the favored Mounties like never before, gritting to a 2-2 tie after a first period in which they surrendered the first two goals.
Suffern picked up the pace in a monster second period, chalking up three goals in the first six minutes of play.
McKee, Bednar and Mike Truschelli scored goals for Mahopac. Siolas had 15 stops in his final high-school game in goal.
When asked to describe the season in one word Woodrow didn’t hesitate.
“I think resilient is the perfect word to describe the team this season,” he said. “The boys faced more adversity than most other programs ever face. Whether it was from injuries, coaching changes or difficult losses, the team never lost focus or a will to keep going. The graduating seniors played a huge role in this trait for our team. We believe that their example will only make us better going forward. Hopefully future Mahopac students saw this team and want to be a part of this program.”