BREWSTER, N.Y. – With just eight seconds left on the clock in a 3-3 game, Somers/North Salem coach John Veteri was looking ahead to overtime, but Brandon and R.J. LaSpina had other plans. After winning a faceoff in their own zone, the brothers took off down the ice with Brandon scoring the game winner on a 2-on-1, beating the buzzer by less than a second.
“That was the craziest finish I’ve ever been a part of,” Veteri said. “I’m thinking overtime and R.J. and Brandon took it into their own hands and said, ‘Nope, we’re gonna end it right now.’ I saw the play develop and I look up and there’s 0.4 seconds left — it was crazy.”
The dramatic goal was Brandon LaSpina’s third of the game and gave the Sabers a 4-3 victory over Pearl River on Feb. 13 at the Brewster Ice Arena. With the win, the Sabers finished the regular season at 14-4-1, which is the team’s best record in program history.
“One of the kids on the other team was like, ‘There’s only eight seconds left, take it easy’ and we didn’t want to take it easy,” Brandon said. “We wanted to win the game.”
LaSpina’s last second goal capped of an eventful night for him. During the game he took a skate to the stomach, was slashed and later missed a shift after going hard into the boards.
“He played hard tonight,” Veteri said. “He got a little bit of a bump, a little bit of a bruise — missed a shift and came back hard. There’s no better redemption than that right there — that’s what everybody hopes for.”
Pearl River’s Dolan Ocasal and LaSpina alternated goals to send the teams to the third period tied at two. The Sabers fell behind early in the third, but tied the game up on Jon Henning’s power-play goal.
“It’s obviously hard to come back like that,” Brandon said. “But we’ve been like that so much, that we’re comfortable that we can comeback.”
Tim Henning made 21 saves in goal for the Sabers, including a big stop early in the second just before LaSpina’s second goal of the game. R.J. LaSpina finished with three assists, while Rich O’Leary assisted on the Sabers’ first goal.
The win wraps up the Sabers’ winningest regular season in program history. On top of that, the Sabers earned their second league title, finishing 9-1 to match Mahopac. They clinched a share of the league with a 6-4 win over Pawling on Feb. 9. The team had six different scorers in Brandon LaSpina, R.J. LaSpina, Joe Jerie, Michael Garrity, Jon Henning and Carley Bauckham. Tim Henning made 30 saves.
“It was a great moment,” Brandon said of winning the league. “This was our best record that we’ve had ever, so it was great to be a part of.”
With their regular season finished, the Sabers do not play again until the sectional playoffs begin on Feb. 21. The time, location and opponent have yet to be determined but Veteri expects the Sabers will get a home game.