A new calendar year is here and both the White Plains and Stepinac Hockey programs are making great strides. Here is a look on how the local teams did on the ice in the first week of 2013.
It was a terrific start to the New Year for the Stepinac Crusaders. Last Friday night they defeated Mount St. Michael Academy 12-3. Wyatt Zuk led his team having a career game netting four goals. Frank Haklits recorded three goals to get the hat trick and Rob Sanders added two goals. Also scoring for the Crusaders on this night were Rob Dannenfelsor, Brendan Mohan and Joe Pichiarallo
Anthony Careccia had four assists on Friday and Sanders, Joe Pichiarallo and Brendan Mohan had two assists each versus Mount. John Albergo recorded 16 saves in goal for the Crusaders.
“We have had two wins in a row and hope to carry that momentum into an important league game on Monday against St Francis,” said Crusaders head coach Michael Henderson. “With eight league contests remaining, every win is important as we fight for a spot in the playoffs.”
Henderson believes his team’s solid play in goal and on defense has been important to their recent success along with several other factors.
“Goaltending has been solid and defensively we need to continue to limit the opponent’s quality scoring opportunities. Taking advantage of power play chances and staying out of the penalty box will be important with a short bench. We have out-shot our opponent in the last two games and hope to continue to generate some good offensive chances and finish on rebounds,” said Henderson.
They knocked off Bryam Hills 4-3 a few days before they beat Mount.
“The main factor was the focus and determination of the team after being down by three goals. We never let up and kept our heads in the game. The forecheck started to work well for us in the second period and we began capitalizing on some good scoring opportunities,” said Henderson about the Byram Hills victory.
In this game Zuk led the Crusaders with two goals. Rob Sanders and Kyle Mahoney added the other two goals. Sanders contributed two assists versus Byram Hills. Mahoney and Haklits each had one assist apiece.
Henderson believes the starting goalie had a stellar performance in his team’s third victory of the season.
“Junior goaltender Ray Guerriero always plays a solid game in net,” said Henderson. “After giving up two goals in the last minute of the first period, he settled down and made some big saves for us as the game went on. He finished the game with 29 saves, including 11 in the third period. The defense did an excellent job.”
According to Henderson several players have improved their games this season.
“Wyatt Zuk is starting to find the back of the net, which is very important,” said Henderson. “Sophomore Rob Sanders played his best game of the season against Byram Hills. He is a big physical presence on the ice and did an unbelievable job fore-checking and causing turnovers, which led to his two assists. Sophomore transfer Frank Haklits will also be a big key for us going forward. His speed and awareness on the ice will help open up some more scoring changes. Junior Charlie Flemen has been playing a lot of defense for us lately because of injuries. He is a usually a gritty forward who has the ability to make plays in the offensive zone.”
There are several areas of the game that Henderson would like to see his squad try to work harder in and try to get better.
“Going forward, we would like to see more forwards crashing the net to capitalize on rebounds,” said Henderson. “We do a great job getting the first shot on net, but would like to see some more second and third chances. Getting guys in front and more people on the score sheet ultimately leads to more confidence for the players. I think we will be a much-improved team in the second half of the year. We have been hit with some injuries early on, but with guys coming back, we will beat some of the league competition that we lost to early on.”
White Plains Plains Hockey
Last week the Tigers only played one but it was a thriller. They lost 6-5 to Rye in overtime at the Ebersole Rink. With the loss the Tigers record dropped to 7-3 this season.
After the game, the Tigers’ head coach was satisfied with the way his team skated versus Rye. “I was really happy with the effort, especially after the first period. I liked the offense, but we gave up too many goals,” said Rubenstein.
Scoring goals versus Rye were Kevin McGee, Chris Medeot, Mike Carrier, Brendan McDonough and Matt Conroy. McGee and Conroy each added two assists.
Rubenstein was content with the play from his starting goalie Chris Stangarone but felt there was room for improvement on defense.
“Stangarone and the defense played well, but our defense needs to be more aggressive,” said Rubenstein.
So far this winter Rubestein has seen a great amount of improvement from his entire team but he says two players hard work this season has really stood out recently.
“They’re all getting better, but John Longo and Brendan McDonough have both really played well lately,” said Rubenstein.
This week the Tigers will play Harrison and Pelham.