…and that ‘real season’ begins Wednesday night (2/24) at Hommocks Park Ice Rink.
The 2009-10 hockey season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the MHS Tigers. Last year, in a banner season, the Tigers fell just one goal short of winning the school’s first state hockey title, with a team chock-full of superstars and graduating seniors. Surprisingly, this year began much as last year ended - with an unexpected 10-0 start, outscoring opponents 68-27.
In their eleventh game, the Tigers played the most anticipated game of the regular season in Section One -against foe Suffern Mounties. The Mounties charged into the Hommocks as the #4 ranked team while theTigers clung to their #3 state ranking. As the game progressed, Suffern was surprisingly able to quiet the home crowd by taking a 4-1 advantage with fewer than ten minutes to play in the game. However, a little Mamaroneck magic allowed theTigers to tie up the score at four with late goals by Sam Christiansen, Captain Joey Naclerio and Scott Hagan. Unfortunately for the Tigers, with their fans drenched in a sea of white shirts for the “white-out”, Suffern poked a goal through Mamaroneck goaltender Alex Harwood in overtime, handing Mamaroneck its first loss, 5-4.
The Tigers suffered another home defeat in overtime at the hands of rival White Plains, 4-3, three days later. All of a sudden, the Tigers had slipped from
being the most feared team in the section to a seemingly vulnerable crew. “We took a couple of games lightly during the season,” remarks sniper Ben Kupferberg, looking back on those two losses, “After all of our hard practices, though, we are now over that and ready for sectionals.” Nevertheless, many onlookers, at the time, speculated whether the Tigers would be able to bounce back from their overtime heart breakers.
Clearly up to the challenge, Mamaroneck went on to finish its last eight games with a solid record of 7-1. During this streak, the Tigers won two games in a tournament in Massena, New York, while also defeating Catholic school powerhouse, Fordham Prep. Despite that, the Tigers' one loss during this late surge was a big one: A ten nothing shellacking by the Suffern Mounties at the Monsey-Sport-O-Rama. The conclusion of the regular season left Mamaroneck (17-3) in second place in Section One, behind the Mounties(18-1).
Still, the Tigers go into the playoffs with poise and exceptionally high expectations. “We’ve had our up and downs as a team, and we haven’t always respected our opponents. We’ve been a little bit overconfident,” explains David “Dangles” Dansky. “However, we’ve adapted to these mistakes and changed our game a little bit. With a new attitude, we have a shot at going far.”
Mamaroneck will begin playoff hockey on February 24 at 7:15pm, against Carmel at Hommocks. Carmel comes into the quarterfinal match-up with a record of 6-8, but a league record of 11-9 (Mamaroneck’s league record is 6-0). Naclerio(26 goals, 19 assists), Matt Conner (21 goals, 19 assists), Hagan(20 goals, 18 assists) and Christiansen (8 goals, 20 assists) will look to spark the Tigers’ offense during this season’s playoffs. Mamaroneck will also rely on Harwood, a sophomore, who has surprised all critics with his 90.6 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average. If the Tigers defeat Carmel, they will face the winner of the quarterfinal affair between Lakeland/Panas and New Rochelle. In the event of a semi-final victory, Mamaroneck would then travel up to West Point with its eyes set on a third consecutive section title, in all likelihood, against Suffern.
“We’ve had a great season, but that doesn’t matter anymore,” notes Hagan, “The real season starts now!” In Mamaroneck, any hockey season short of a section title is a bust.