Sam Coughlin was flipping around on the ice like a restless sleeper.
He spent the first six minutes of the game making save after save, frustrating North Rockland with each deflection. The pressure was relentless, but Pearl River’s trusty netminder found a way to buy some time.
It made all the difference in a 2-2 tie on Saturday at Sport-O-Rama.
“Going into that game, I knew they were going to come out hard and get shots on net because it was Senior Night and we beat them before,” Coughlin said. “It’s tough staying poised, but I was trying just to get right back in front of the puck as quick as I could.”
The high-intensity approach in the opening minutes was a response to a poor start three weeks ago in a 5-3 win by the Pirates.
Coughlin was getting a piece of everything that came into the crease. And not long after Pearl River settled in, the Pirates began threatening.
Kevin Murphy did some nifty skating to shake two defenders and finish with 3:41 to go in the first period to make it a 1-0 game. The Red Raiders muttered a few choice words on the way to the locker room at intermission after taking a penalty at the buzzer.
There were a few more when Connor McMorrow scored on the ensuing power play in the opening minute of the second, extending the lead to 2-0.
“We didn’t worry that it might be happening again,” Red Raiders forward Danny Moore said. “We kept our heads in the game this time and just played hockey. We knew it was only a matter of time before we got a couple of goals.”
And it was.
North Rockland took another penalty almost immediately and was two men down for 30 seconds. The situation forced the Red Raiders to play smarter and they got back to even strength without falling into a deeper hole.
Moore got the first goal when a blast from the circle somehow bounced off and over Coughlin early in the second. He also set up T.J. Brennan with 4:30 to go in the period.
Anthony DePinto came up with a couple of highlight saves for North Rockland to keep it that way.
“I’m definitely proud of them,” Red Raiders coach Gary Dorkowitz said. “They responded. We definitely would’ve liked a win, but we showed a lot of character in the tie. Games like this are ideal. You want to try to maintain good habits, and Pearl River is a team that if you make a mistake in the defensive zone, they’re going to capitalize. I think it helps us going forward.”