BREWSTER, N.Y.— It was a tall order from the start. One look at the number of players on each bench and the size of the ones on the ice told you that the Somers/North Salem Sabers faced a big challenge against North Rockland.
And it certainly didn’t help any when the Sabers fell behind just 27 seconds into the game and 2-0 with just seven minutes gone in the first period.
The Sabers, however, kept clawing back and trailed by one with four minutes left to play before North Rockland was able to close it out for a 6-3 league win at Brewster Ice Arena Jan. 8.
“It’s a 45-minute game and you have to play all 45 minutes, especially against a team like that,” Sabers coach John Veteri said. “They’re deep, they’re big, physical and disciplined—a well-coached team. You can’t make mistakes against them. They’re going to capitalize and that’s what they did.”
It was the first game of the new year and first in almost two weeks for Somers/North Salem, coming off the winter holiday break, and the Sabers got off to a slow start.
Five seconds into the game, North Rockland went on the power play and the Raiders wasted no time capitalizing with a goal. A few minutes later, North Rockland scored a short-handed goal for a 2-0 lead just seven minutes into the game.
The Sabers were able to get a big goal with one minute left in the first period as Brandon LaSpina scored off an assist from Nick Caleri to cut the lead down to 2-1.
The second period worked out like the first as North Rockland came right out and scored just 50 seconds into the period to regain a two-goal lead.
Once again, the Sabers struck late in the period with 1:15 left as Michael Garrity scored off an assist from LaSpina for a power-play goal to make it 3-2.
The home team carried over that momentum into the third period as they tried to rally back. LaSpina scored a power-play goal on a long shot from the point to cut it down to 4-3 with four minutes left.
Off the ensuing faceoff, North Rockland was able to squash the comeback as the Red Raiders scored just seven seconds later to make it 5-3. They scored again a minute later to seal the win.
“First two periods we played pretty well and our goalie Chris Graham stood on his head and kept us in the game,” Veteri said. “Third period I don’t know if we got tired, but we just didn’t have the intensity. We were right there when we scored, but they came back seven seconds later and that was the difference. A couple mistakes and bad bounces—that’s hockey.”
Despite the loss, Veteri felt there were several positives as the Sabers kept battling to the end. North Rockland outshot them 24-20 overall as Graham was credited with 18 saves. The Sabers played a strong second period as they outshot the Raiders 11-5.
Now that the break is over and they’ve had their first game back on the ice, Veteri feels there were a lot of positives and he hopes the Sabers can take the next step as they get ready for a tough league schedule. The Sabers will be back on the ice at the Brewster Ice Arena on Jan. 13 at 6:40 p.m. against Hendrick Hudson/Haldane.
“Our defense is playing really well and our first line is working hard with LaSpina and Garrity starting to jell,” Veteri said. “Anthony Morea on the second line is our work horse. He goes out there and skates all over the ice. We hadn’t seen the ice for a game in two weeks. We’re in a tough league, but that will only make us better for the playoffs. We can only get better playing the teams in our league.”