BREWSTER – Somewhere along the way, Mamaroneck got all wound up.
In a good way.
Too often in the past, the Tigers have struggled to breathe easy in big moments, but they were at their freewheeling best during a dominant 5-1 win over Suffern in the Section 1 Division 1 championship game at Brewster Ice Arena.
From the start, Mamaroneck played bigger, faster and smarter.
“We definitely came into this game with a way better mentality than we’ve had in the past,” said Tigers forward Chris Conley. “Truth be told, we were more nervous for the Scarsdale game because we lost in the semifinals last year. After we got those late goals to win that game, everybody was like, ‘We’re doing this.’ ”
It was the first title for the program since 2009.
“We were saying the whole game, ‘This is the best. This is the best,’ “ Mamaroneck forward Will Kirk said.
Michael Carducci opened the scoring five minutes into the game, but the Mounties answered quickly. Dave Rozitis sent a blast in from the point on the game’s first power play and Michael Ruthberg pounced on the rebound.
It was a 1-1 game with 7:36 to go in the first.
Less than a minute later, Jason Bienstock controlled the puck on the back wall and set up Kirk, who played the game of his life and finished with a hat trick.
“It’s been building up for a while,” he said. “Since I was a pee wee or something I’ve been skating around, wishing I could do that in a Section 1 final. It was pretty amazing. It was the biggest game I’ve ever played in my entire life. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
The Tigers committed a string of penalties after moving back in front, but Matt DiCicco and Conley were all over the ice, killing time with wild abandon.
“We’ve grown so close after playing all these years together,” Conley said. “We regrouped right after the loss last year and said, ‘Boys, we have to do something special next year.’ So we’ve been in the gym and running, just getting ready for those moments.”
Matt Vaughan jumped on a turnover with 9:27 to play in the second and put Suffern in a 3-1 hole. In a matter of seconds, it was a 4-1 advantage. Kirk did the honors and closed out the scoring with 3:52 left in the game.
“On that first goal we were kind of running around,” Mounties coach Rob Schelling said. “Then, when we tied it up and they scored the very next shift. That was a tough thing. From there we were playing on our heels. We really didn’t play well in the D zone. It’s tough playing catch-up. We’ve struggled to score goals all year. Having to play catch-up really changed a lot.”
Next up for Mamaroneck is a regional final next Saturday against the Section 10 champion. Massena and Canton meet tomorrow for the right to move on.
Player of the game: Kirk made things happen for the Tigers. He also had a hand in the first goal of the afternoon.
Turning point: Mamaroneck coach Mike Chiapparelli emphasized the importance of playing 5-on-5 against Suffern, but the Tigers were sent to the box three times after taking a 2-1 lead. The penalty kill was great, though, and the Mounties never had a chance to set up and settle the puck.
Stat line: Mamaroneck only took four shots in the first period and had a 2-1 lead. … Bienstock and Carducci kept the puck moving and have five assists between them. … Tigers goalie Tommy Spero made 22 saves. … Suffern was down to just two lines with Evan Cama (injury) and Shaan Greenberg (illness) out of the lineup.
Quotable: “I think (we relaxed) after the Scarsdale game on Friday,” Chiapparelli said. “We were dominating them and took a four-minute major. They scored a goal and the game turned. We got stagnant for a little while. They came out and got another goal to make it 2-0 and our kids were mad. We outshot them 41-9 after that. After the game, they came in saying, ‘We didn’t win that game for nothing.’ They just carried it on. … I told them this is the best hockey team we’ve ever put on the ice at Mamaroneck. We’re hoping to keep going.”