It’s awfully hard to stay in the moment when so many noteworthy matchups are on the horizon.
Avoiding early upsets is critical.
Suffern will run into Clarkstown in a Division I semifinal next week if both teams survive their playoff openers. The first meeting between the rival schools was a classic back-and-forth contest that ended in a 3-3 tie. Suffern is the No. 3 seed and plays New Rochelle on Sunday. Clarkstown is the No. 2 seed and plays North Rockland on Sunday.
It gets even better if everything falls into place.
Scarsdale is the defending champion in Division I and the No. 1 seed. The Raiders have just one loss this season, and it came against the Mounties. An elbow-to-elbow crowd watched Scarsdale come back and beat Suffern on two late goals in the championship game.
Both squads are looking for a second chance on March 1 at Sport-O-Rama.
“Playing the championship game here is a little controversial,” Scarsdale forward James Nicholas said after his team fell 4-2 at Sport-O-Rama on Feb. 6. “Whatever. I’m looking forward to playing them again.”
There are showdowns looming in Division II, as well.
Pearl River and Rye might tangle in the semifinals. When they played nearly a month ago, the Pirates won 4-3 in overtime. Mamaroneck and Pelham could play in a semifinal on the other side of the bracket. The Pelicans won by a 5-2 margin when the traditional powers clashed in early January.
A championship rematch between Pelham and Rye is also a possibility.
The playoffs begin on Sunday with four Division I quarterfinals, and continues Monday with opening-round games in Division II.
No. 1 Scarsdale
Coach: Jim Mancuso
Impact players: James Nicholas F, Devon Schell F, Will Bock D, Gabe Harousseau G.
Scouting report: Nicholas and Schell create matchup issues wherever they go. The Raiders have plenty of postseason experience now, and the focus issues cleared up following a loss at Suffern earlier this month. Scarsdale has won five in a row by a 36-6 margin since the season’s lone setback.
No. 2 Clarkstown
Coach: Rich Willows
Impact players: Adam Marvin F, Nick Kim, D, Nick Sassano F, Luke Myers F, Tim Cavanagh G.
Scouting report: The chemistry is strong and very few teams match the depth of this roster. Scoring is sometimes an issue. Clarkstown is 3-4-1 when scoring three goals or less. Cavanagh might be under the radar, but he’s only letting in 1.67 goals per game.
No. 3 Suffern
Coach: Rob Schelling
Impact players: Justin Tiso F, Michael Redgate F, Troy Daniels D, C.J. Greco F, Sean Gordon G.
Scouting report: Health was an issue all season long for the Mounties. The first line is finally up to speed, creating multiple scoring chances on most shifts. If there’s a concern, it’s the lack of postseason experience behind the standouts.
No. 4 White Plains
Coach: Howie Rubenstein
Impact players: Chris Stangarone G, Mike Carrier F, Matt Conroy D, Brendan McDonough F.
Scouting report: The offense is a little unpredictable as evidenced by a 4-3 loss to New Rochelle followed by a 4-0 win over Pelham. Stangarone has a history of stealing headlines in big games, and will have to be sharp to keep the season going another week.
No. 5 Mahopac
Coach: Chris Lomabardo
Impact players: Rob Buckley F, Matt DeRosa F, Matthew Stefunek D, Tommy Gilmore G.
Scouting report: Don’t look at the record. The Indians were competitive in every game, staying within three goals of every opponent. Health issues contributed to up-and-down play. The first two lines are capable of scoring more goals than they are right now.
No. 6 New Rochelle
Coach: CJ Tozzo
Impact players: Kenny McLean F/D, Massimo Miceli F, Arthur Leibowitz G.
Scouting report: McLean is probably the best pound-for-pound scorer in the section this season. He is a set-up artist. The rest of the roster is very young and inexperienced on this stage, but the underclassmen play the right way.
No. 7 North Rockland
Coach: Gary Dworkowitz
Impact players: James Morina F, Mark McElroy F, Brian Bohlander D.
Scouting report: The Red Raiders only beat one team with a winning record, and Pearl River did not have its two best players for that game. Manufacturing scoring chances has been the biggest problem. North Rockland can be stingy at the other end when the focus is right.
No. 8 Rivertown
Coach: Howard Weiner
Impact players: Tommy Farrell F, Adam Pesce G.
Scouting report: This is a team just happy to be here following a very down season. Discipline at the blue line will be a key in the postseason for this group, which has not been the same following a 9-1 loss to Clarkstown that disrupted an energetic start.
No. 8. Rivertown (6-11-2) vs. No. 1. Scarsdale (19-1), 6:50 p.m. at Ice Hutch
Prediction: Scarsdale 9, Rivertown 0
No. 5. Mahopac (10-8-2) vs. No. 4 White Plains (13-6), 7 p.m. at BIA
Prediction: White Plains 3, Mahopac 2
No. 6. New Rochelle (8-9) vs. No. 3. Suffern (14-4-2), 7:15 p.m. at Sport-O-Rama
Prediction: Suffern 7, New Rochelle 1
No. 7. North Rockland (7-13) vs. No. 2. Clarkstown (15-4-1), 6:30 p.m. at Palisades
Prediction: Clarkstown 5, North Rockland 1
Tuesday at the higher seed
March 1 at Sport-O-Rama
No. 1 Pawling
Coach: Matthew Whitehurst
Impact players: Austin Johnson D, Donny Millard F, Joe Currie D, James Comerford F.
Scouting report: The Tigers play a rough-and-tumble style that rattles some opponents. How will this group respond to challenges by teams looking to drop the No. 1 seed. That’s a big question that will be answered quickly.
No. 2 Mamaroneck
Coach: Mike Chiapparelli
Impact players: Will Arbo F, Ryan LeBlanc D, Alex Ewald F, Jason Bienstock F, Tommy Spero G.
Scouting report: It’s hard to believe the Tigers have been struggling to score given the skill level of these forwards. Mamaroneck has the perfect mix of size and speed, but has struggled to finish all season long. Spero might have to play hero to get this team into the finals.
No. 3 Yorktown
Coach: Bob Fritsche
Impact players: Liam Donnelly F, Frank Gavigan F.
Scouting report: The Huskers know how to scramble a game and capitalize on loose pucks and untimely mistakes. Improvements on the defensive end of the ice are the reason Yorktown is seeded highly. The Huskers ended the season with six wins in seven games.
No. 4 Rye Town/Harrison
Coach: Jason Head
Impact players: Max Picker F, Mitchell Millbauer F, Evan Leshman D, Clay Korpi D.
Scouting report: The first line is capable of competing with the best teams in Section 1, and the youthful second line is underrated. Titans finished strong with wins over Hen Hud, North Rockland and Mount Pleasant, but this team has to prove it can take down a traditional power.
No. 5 Pearl River
Coach: Brian Del Savio
Impact players: Kevin Murphy F, Max McGee F, Sam Coughlin G.
Scouting report: What have the Pirates been up to for the last few weeks? They only played four games in February, which could be a blessing in disguise. Murphy and McGee log a lot of miles, and really never seem to wear down. It’s a combination few teams solve.
No. 6 Pelham
Coach: Ed Witz
Impact players: Gibby Smith F, Nat Heintz F, Hogan Peters F, Lucas Gabow D, Ben Hurd F.
Scouting report: No team in the region has been tested more than the well-traveled Pelicans, who are 6-2 against Section 1 teams. A late-season loss to White Plains has to be viewed as troubling. Pelham needs a scorer to heat up in the pllayoffs.
No. 7 Mount Pleasant
Coach: Josh Isenberg
Impact players: Richard Cantwell D, Oscar Marchi F, Michael Sala F.
Scouting report: This is not a deep team, but there is enough talent to contend with the high seeds. Most of the momentum built up early on is gone as the Ice Cats closed with four losses in five games before the mid-winter break.
No. 8 Hen Hud
Coach: Mike Grean
Impact players: Mike Ciofalo G, Tyler Schunk F, Tommy Cascone D.
Scouting report: Ciofalo is no longer under the radar, and he’s been fairly consistent. Scoring is the key. When the Sailors get more than three goals, they are 10-2-1. Hen Hud only beat one team outside Conference I.
No. 9 Carmel
Coach: Michael Chiacchia
Impact players: Michael Gamby F, Tyler Alfonzetti F, Willow Barnes G.
Scouting report: The marquee players are capable of carrying the load against most teams, but the second line will have to make contributions if the Rams are going to make playoff noise. Carmel has great fans. Will they hit the road?
No. 10 Greeley
Coach: Zachary Dargaty
Impact players: Sam Mishkind F, Scott Jakubowicz F, Calder Fontaine F.
Scouting report: The Quakers have two of the best finishers in Section 1, but they give up too many goals to contend with strong opponents. A couple of big games from goalie Nicholas Bright would help the cause.
No. 11 Brewster
Coach: Tom Andreacchio
Impact players: Seamus Carey D, Aaron Treiling F, Sean DeGaray F, JT Goodliffe F.
Scouting report: A great start evaporated when the level of competition increased. The Bears have won just four games since the New Year. There is enough scoring punch. Brewster has to be more careful and more patient with the puck in order to win a playoff game.
No. 12 Somers/North Salem
Coach: John Veteri
Impact players: RJ LaSpina F, Luigi Olinto F.
Scouting report: There aren’t many players in the section who have scored more goals than LaSpina this season. The Sabers had a nice three game winning streak at the end of January that included wins over Greeley and Hen Hud, but closed the season with three consecutive losses.
No. 13 Rye
Coach: Peter Thomas
Impact players: Theo Bresolin F, Tommy O’Brien F, Rocco Macri F, Nat Deen G.
Scouting report: Getting started was the biggest issue this season, but players did eventually settle into roles and reel of six consecutive wins. The Garnets struggled to score down the stretch and lost four of six to close the season.
No. 14 John Jay
Coach: Alex Smith
Impact players: Lucas Prestamo F, Ellis Maloof D, Ryan Cavanagh F.
Scouting report: The Indians are still a year away from contending, but this group improved exponentially over the course of the season and might throw a scare into a higher seed. Prestamo is a tough matchup no matter the opponent.
No. 9. Carmel (10-8-2) vs. No. 8 Hen Hud (10-8-1), 8:45 p.m. at Ice Time
Prediction: Carmel 5, Hen Hud 4
No. 12. Somers/North Salem (7-12-1) vs. No. 5 Pearl River (10-7), 5:30 p.m. at Sport-O-Rama
Prediction: Pearl River 5, Somers/North Salem 3
No. 13. Rye (9-11) vs. No. 4. Rye Town/Harrison (12-6-1), 6 p.m. at Playland
Prediction: Rye 4, Rye Town/Harrison 3
No. 14. John Jay (5-14-1) vs. No. 3. Yorktown (13-7),8 p.m. at BIA
Prediction: Yorktown 4, John Jay 3
No. 11. Brewster (10-9-1) vs. No. 6. Pelham (10-9-1), 6 p.m. at Ice Hutch
Prediction: Pelham 9, Brewster 2
No. 10. Greeley (9-11) vs. No. 7. Mount Pleasant (11-6-1), 4 p.m. at WSA
Prediction: Greeley 5, Mount Pleasant 4
Wednesday at the higher seed
Friday at the higher seed
March 1 at Sport-O-Rama