By Mike Dougherty
There was a fair amount of grumbling on glass as Clarkstown rolled three lines and fell behind Pearl River with its best players resting comfortably on the bench.
And then it happened.
The Mall Rats had fresher legs down the stretch and simply overwhelmed the Pirates in the last four minutes, pulling out a dramatic 5-3 win late Friday at Sport-O-Rama.
Nick Sassano almost unwittingly netted the game-winner. He was set up on the edge of the crease with a minute to go when Nick Kim sent the puck in.
“We were really applying the pressure late and Nick put the puck right in front of the net,” Sassano said. “I just got lucky. We were all over them. I just saw the puck go by me, felt it hit off me, saw it in the back of the net and started celebrating.”
Joey Tokarczyk knotted the score 3-3 with 2:33 remaining. Sassano and Greg Sanfratello had the assists.
Pearl River was defiant the entire game.
Sanfratello gave Clarkstown an early lead, but Thomas Murphy answered before the first period ended. Chin gave the Mall Rats a 2-1 edge with a power-play goal in the second, but Max McGee got loose and wristed a shot just under the crossbar and James Gannon pushed in a rebound to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the final minutes of the period.
And they gave Clarkstown the run-around for the first 10-plus minutes of the third. Not long after Sassano put the Mall Rats in front, Pearl River showed up on the doorstep with one last surge, and it took a diving save by goalie Tim Cavanagh to lock down the win. Adam Marvin tacked on an empty-net goal with 1.9 seconds to play.