Section V Hockey Semifinals – Greece Athena/Greece Odyssey vs. Webster Thomas: Thomas’ No.21 Benjamin Monroe makes last seconds attempts to score as Greece’s Nick Lucarelli defends in the third period at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Ritter Arena.
Sean Ryan is no coach — he skates for the Greece Athena/Odyssey Thunder.
Yet the 17-year old Ryan seemed to sense that he was on a high school hockey team that would need to rebuild on the fly this season.
“No, no young guys,” Ryan said about the makeup of his team. “I’d say the team is really young.”
Ryan is a junior himself but may be among the leaders who can be proud of the building job pulled off by the Thunder.
Two goals by Ryan and 16 saves by Thunder goalie Jake Bellavia were enough to push No. 1 seed Athena/Odyssey past No. 5 Webster Thomas 3-1 in the first of two Section V Class BB Tournament semifinals Wednesday night at Rochester Institute of Technology.
No. 2 Victor defeated No. 3 Hilton met in the second semifinal and will face Athena/Odyssey (15-5-1) in the championship back at RIT on Sunday.
“Beyond excited,” Ryan said.
Ryan could also be described as effective. He assisted on Athena/Odyssey’s third goal, scored by Dylan Ohare in the third period during a power-play.
“My sophomore year, we lost to Fairport in the finals,” Ryan said. “Junior year, I wanted to lead the team, tried getting everyone going.
“This year I wanted to come out 10 times harder. Let’s get one (sectional title).”
Athena/Odyssey and the Thomas Titans (12-9-1) did not meet during the regular season.
The Thunder struck first in this playoff.
Marc McNeil tracked down the puck near the boards in the Webster Thomas defensive zone and moved it to Ryan.
“I was going to shoot,” Ryan said.
Instead, Ryan kept the puck, toe-dragged around a Titans skater, waited for Thomas goalie Dalton Jerzak to go down and back-handed a shot into the net. The Titans came back and evened the score 20 seconds later.
A good breakout out of the Webster Thomas defensive zone led to the puck on the stick of Matt Fiore, who dropped a pass to Benjamin Monroe in the slot. Monroe scored from there, over Bellavia’s blocker pad.
Ryan gave the lead back to the Thunder 56 seconds into the second after he skated in from the blue line at the end of the Titans’ defensive zone. He was knocked down with the puck in his possession and an open area to shoot.
No change in score occurred during the second, but when the Titans returned to the ice for the third, they produced their greatest amount of sustained offensive pressure. It lasted about three minutes, then Athena/Odyssey almost turned an attempt to clear into a goal at the end of a breakaway.
The Thunder took firmer control after Ohare’s power-play goal, also assisted by McNeil, with 6:59 remaining.
While play became somewhat chippy — four penalties against the Thunder and two for the Titans during the last three minutes — a trip to a final in back-to-back seasons belonged to Athena/Odyssey.
“Hard work,” Thunder coach Andy Rice said. “We lost 25 players in the last two years. We started off very slow this year. It took some time to get our lines together.
A lot of guys quietly got better. The next thing, we ended up as the No. 1 seed. Losing some games early made us want it more, compete a little harder.”