BUFFALO – Mamaroneck celebrated its first ever Division 1 state hockey championship Sunday at HarborCenter. Twice.
Tommy Spero made 27 saves in a 1-0 shutout win over Section 3 West Genesee in the NYSPHSAA boys ice hockey finals, fulfilling a promise he made long ago to head coach Mike Chiapparelli.
“I promised Chiappy when I was 8 years old that I was going to win him a state title,” the junior goaltender said. “I wasn’t going to break that promise.”
Spero was named tournament MVP after his brilliant performance in net. He also made the all-team tournament as well as first team all-state.
“He actually told the guys ‘Get out of my way, I’ll stop everything. Just don’t screen me,”” Chiapparelli said. “It was the only thing he was worried about.”
Spero’s best save came 6 minutes into the second period on a cross-crease pass from West Genesee’s Jay Considine to Jeff Kopek. Spero dove to the right with his stick along the ice, stopping Kopek’s shot from crossing the goal line.
“I saw the puck going towards the net and I just threw my stick on it,” Spero said. “I guess I got a piece of it.”
The sequence was one of a handful of scrambles in front where the junior held strong against a relentless West Genesee attack. The Wildcats outshot Mamaroneck 18-3 in the second period and saw few chances to extend its tenuous lead, which it established just 3:24 into the first period. Michael Carducci dove to drive a Will Kirk cross-ice feed home past Sammy Colabufo (8 saves) for the game’s only goal.
“I drove the net and Kirk saw me inside,” Carducci said. “It was a really nice pass.”
Physical play gave Mamaroneck (24-2) the advantage in the first despite the shot discrepancy, but the game’s pace turned away from them after the opening 15 minutes.
“We weren’t getting our feet moving, and their trap was really great,” senior forward Alex Ewald said. “Even still, in our D zone for the most part we stuck to our systems, we kept them to the outside.”
Mamaroneck called timeout to settle things down before a power play with 3:51 left in the siege-like second period, but the best chances over the 90 seconds that followed went to West Genesee. Considine and Ryan McDonald each had looks at the net, including a partial breakaway for Considine that Spero got a piece of with his glove hand.
“They were getting some good chances in the second period and we were hanging Tommy out to dry,” Chapparelli said. “I said ‘Guys, we can’t do this to him, he stood up for us all year.’”
Mamaroneck settled down in the third period and limited the Wildcats to just four shots on goal. Their best chance to tie the game came in its dying seconds on a massive scramble in Mamaroneck crease. The red goal light flashed on, the clock read 0 and West Genesee began to celebrate but the referee furiously waved off the goal.
“I saw him cover it and they pushed him in,” Chapparelli said. “But the whistle went.”
Thinking the game was over Mamaroneck poured onto the ice, scattering its sticks, gloves and helmets on the ice in a wild celebration. The officials then put 0.6 seconds back on the clock and Mamaroneck collected its laundry, took the game’s final faceoff, and got to celebrate all over again.
“It was kind of weird. At first we thought it was over,” Spero said. “I’d do it one more time if I had to.”
After the game, Will Kirk was named Division 1 player of the year. Kirk also made first team all-state, while Ewald made the state’s second team. Chiapparelli, who was named coach of the year after the game, said Westchester County’s first state hockey title was a three-decade effort by the entire Mamaroneck community.
“Our community has put a lot of resources in and we’ve worked really hard. I started coaching these guys years ago,” he said. “All my coaches over the last 33 years helped build this program — getting our butt kicked at first, but we got on the bus we won four tournaments this year. Just a great job by our kids.”
Don’t miss anything
Download our apps to get alerts for local news, weather, traffic and more. Search “lohud” in your app store or use these links from your device: iPhone app | Android app for phone and tablet | iPad app
Don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook!