While the celebration was moving into the Pelham locker room, Ben Hurd was alone on the bench, gathering up the water bottles and making sure the area was tidy.
All in a day’s work.
The unflinching freshman scored two goals in the biggest game of his blossoming varsity career on Thursday, helping the Pelicans to a 5-2 win over Rye at Hommocks Park Ice Rink, but there was no reprieve from the upperclassmen.
“You don’t get any special treatment just because you’re playing well,” said Pelham senior Andrew Schauer, who had a goal and three assists.” That’s always been the way. Even when I was a freshman playing on the first line I still had to do that stuff. It’s fantastic to have a freshman on this team who’s good enough to put in two goals against a team like Rye. I didn’t do that.”
Hogan Peters, also netted a pair of goals for the Pelicans (11-2-1), who have won seven in a row.
“Quite honestly … I don’t think we played our greatest game,” head coach Ed Witz said. “We played well offensively. I wasn’t crazy about us defensively. … I was concerned about the fact that we had a couple of turnovers in the neutral zone and at our blue line late, and they scored a couple of goals.”
The emotions always run very high in this rivalry, but Pelham came out focused, putting 19 shots on Garnets freshman goalie, Nat Deen, before one finally got by.
“It was really hard to solve that kid at first,” added Schauer, who pushed in a rebound on the power play with 1:08 to go in the first period. “I was getting frustrated, which is not good for my game. I made some fantastic moves and kept putting the puck in his stomach. I finally got a break. Sometimes it’s not the pretty one that goes in.
“When you’re putting all that pressure on and can’t get a goal, it’s kind of demoralizing. But once you get that one, you feel like the pressure is off and you get more and more.”
Rye (5-4-1) had a difficult time sustaining any kind of pressure.
Peters added to the lead with 8:46 to go in the second when he deflected a blast from Will Cullen, and Hurd made it 3-0 on a short-handed goal after Nick Davidow hustled the puck in deep and forced a faceoff.
“Our team was really pumped up in the locker room, so the nerves were a little overwhelming at the start,” Hurd said. “Once I got on the ice, I forgot about it.”
Rye, which somehow managed to get 27 shots on goal, needed to make something happen in the early minutes of the third period, and got a goal from Andrew Urbanczyk with 10:42 left to play. Hurd got loose in front again, making it a 4-1 game less than a minute later.
That one was a dagger.
“I think it helps that I’m small because I can kind of get in between people,” Hurd said.
Peters netted his second of the game with eight minutes to play, and Cal Hynson scored on shot that came straight down the slot a short time later.
“They’re a good hockey team,” Garnets coach Jason Friesen said. “I don’t care who you are, you’re going to give up a lot of shots to them and a lot of opportunities. I liked the effort. The desire, the will, all those intangibles were good. And then you saw us get exposed a little. There are some things we need to work on, but we are moving in the right direction, just a little bit slower than we’d like.
Deen finished with 41 saves.
Rye has some issues to solve defensively, but was encouraged by the number of chances it created.
“That’s one of the things we’re working on, upping our shot total,” Friesen said. “Our positioning around the net has been poor. We tend to be too wide, the exact opposite of what they do. Pelham always has two guys, three guys in front of the net. We’re working on that.
“I like my team, unfortunately, it’s taken longer than it usually does. That’s OK. In the end, I think we’ll get to where we want to be.”