MOUNT VERNON– It happened one time. It was not going to happen again.
Pelham had taken a four-goal lead over Rye earlier this season only to see the Garnets tie the score before Pelham pulled away for a three-goal win.
Friday night at the Ice Hutch, the Pelicans again took a four-goal lead. But this time they never looked back.
The No. 1 Pelicans, maybe the hottest team in the Section 1 hockey tournament, defeated No. 4 Rye 5-0 in the Division 2 semifinals before a crowd of nearly 400.
Pelham will play Rye Town/Harrison Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Brewster Ice Arena for the title.
That game will be a repeat of last year’s matchup, which Pelham won 9-1.
Rye Town/Harrison will definitely be aware of at least two players — Nat Heintz, who opened the scoring 3:17 into the first period and finished with two goals, and Ben Hurd, who had an even better night with a hat trick and an assist.
Pelham outshot Rye 33-14 and most of the Garnets’ shots on goalie A.J. Gugliara were from the outside with Gugliara giving up no juicy rebounds.
“I think the first time around we got a little bit kind of full of ourselves,” Pelham coach Ed Witz said of the previous game against Rye. “This time we were on start to finish.”
Player of the game: That was in no small part due to Hurd, who scored Pelham’s second, third and fifth goals.
Hurd’s first goal was a beautiful wrister just under the crossbar and over Rye goalie Jack Petrucelli.
Hurd’s next two goals came on man-down breakaways. The second was off a 2-on-0 with Stefan Miklakos finding Hurd on the backdoor.
“He gave me probably the nicest pass I’ve ever gotten in my life,” said Hurd.
Turning point: But the game’s turning point occurred when Pelham killed off a two-man-down penalty that lasted 90 seconds. That occurred in the first period and preceded Hurd’s goal that made it 3-0 with 7:11 left in the first.
Stat line: Russell Mazzaro had assists on Hurd’s second and third goals and Gibson Smith had the second assist on Hurd’s last goal.
Quotables: Last time we took our foot off the pedal,” Heintz said, noting Pelham planned this time to “pile the pucks” on net.
“We’re always confident. We know we can win any game we play,’’ he added.
“I think this is the best team (I’ve played on),” said Hurd, who is playing his third year on varsity. “It’s one of the most skilled teams but, more important, it’s probably the one with the best chemistry.”