Ice Hockey Notebook: Goalie Play Should be Determining Factor in League Title Chase

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It’s unlikely that any of the ice hockey teams competing in this neck of the woods (Put./NW) will be competing for the D-I or D-II Section 1 titles in late winter, barring wholesale improvement. There are questions, particularly in goal, about many of the teams hailing from League I-A and/or League I-B, so competing against the cross-river dominators and three-time defending D-I champions from Suffern — the reigning NYS champion — and down-county powers that be (two-time D-II champion Pelham, Mamaroneck, White Plains and D-II No.1-ranked Rye etc.), will be even tougher than it has in recent seasons. Sorry, but street cred is everything on ice.

Husker D Adam Greene carries puck in Friday’s 6-5 win over Carmel.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t drive over to the Brewster Ice Arena and catch a good game from time to time, and those that did last Friday took in some end-to-action when Yorktown one its first game of the year in a 6-5 win over Carmel. Those that hung around a little longer saw Mahopac right the ship in a 7-1 rout over struggling Brewster, who miss Notre Dame-bound Joe Wegwerth (USA Jr. Hockey program) more than any Bears club has ever missed anyone.

Don’t count teams like Lakeland/Panas, Mahopac and Somers/North Salem out of a sectional semifinal run, but there is plenty of work to be done before hockey fans from League I-A and I-B can get excited about an epic playoff run.

Having lost several top-notch goaltenders from within those two leagues, some teams are struggling with goalie issues. The team that gets the best net play in the second half of the season should be the teams to secure league titles.

To date, Lakeland/Panas has received superb netminding from senior Brandon Vasquez and he is the primary reason why the Rebels (3-1 league) sit atop the League I-A standings in a near three-way tie with Mahopac (4-1 league) and Somers/NS (4-1-1 league). If Mahopac can improve its last line of defense like it has of late, the Indians have superior depth and should make a run at the league crown. With Matt Rubenstein between the pipes, don’t discount Somers/North Salem, and the proof was in the pudding last Saturday against the Rebels.

The two went head-to-head, with Rubenstein emerging clear the victor in a 4-3 Somers/NS win at the BIA. The win by Sabers also turned a simple 1-2-3 ranking into a regular cluster-fluff. Previously, L/P was No.1, Mahopac 2 and Somers/NS was supposed to check in at No.3. Now, we’ve got three teams who have all beaten one another in some form (Mahopac beat Somers, 4-1. L/P beat Mahopac 4-2). So based on everything we know and everything that has happened to this point, we’ve got no clear-cut No.1. In this case, we’re going to go on a gut feeling and go with the best player from the three teams involved: Mahopac gets the nod, and junior D Tommy Kirincic is that player.

NWE/Putnam Examiner Top 5 Hockey Poll

No.1 MAHOPAC – Friday 12/28 has been a date the Indians have circled on the calendar since their 4-2 loss to Lakeland/Panas #Revenge! Vasquez had 36 saves last time and shut the Indians down in crucial 3rd period. Gotta figure Mahopac (6-4, 4-1) rebounds and splits season series. With recent wins over JFK/PV/H and Brewster, the Indians have righted their course. If they can get the kind of consistent goalie play they got from G Evan Rivera in a 7-1 rout of Brewster, Mahopac could get on a little roll here and take top billing in League I-A. Tommy Kirincic (2G), John Hangach (1G), Matt DeRosa (1G), Timmy Stock (1G), Nick Barletta (1G) and Robert Buckley (1G) all scored on a night when the Indians started slow but found their groove, according to Captain Brandon Fitzpatrick.

No.2 SOMERS/NORTH SALEM – The Sabers (6-3-1, 4-1-1) hammered Brewster, 9-2, behind a pair of goals from Jason Teplensky, David Rubenstein and Mitch Lanyi, and followed that up by icing Lakeland/Panas, 4-3. Rubenstein (6G, 6A) and Lanyi (8G, 6A) have gotten it done all year, as has G Matt Rubenstein (2.64 GAA), who should keep the Sabers in the league-title chase. The 2-2 tie with Carmel (1-6-2) is still quite vexing and one of the determining factors in this poll.

No.3 LAKELAND/PANAS – F Conor Bubolo (12G, 8A) and G Brandon Vasquez (2.33 GAA) are getting it done at opposite ends of the ice for the Rebels (5-2, 3-1), who some have suggested were playing over their heads (blogs and what not). Goaltending has not been an issue for the Rebels, who are getting it done despite having one of the shortest benches in the section (11 skaters).

“All 11 out of 11 players skate as hard as they can,” said Bubolo. “All 11 players give everything they have and leave nothing back. What really adds to this is our 12th player. Our goaltender has been standing on his head the past few games. Along with the defense, our offense is getting the job done. Our coach has given us a goal to beat the other team in every period of the game. I really hope we are able to keep this up even with the short numbers we have because what our team doesn’t have in numbers we are able to make up in heart.”

No.4 KENNEDY/PUT VALLEY/HALD. – Team was looking really good before coming back to earth after loss to Mahopac, Pawling and John Jay. We can live with the Mahopac and Jay setbacks, but if you are gonna be a legit D-I playoff challenger in any way shape or form, you can’t allow Pawling to hang one on ya like it did in a 5-3 win. JFK/PV has just seven goals in the 3-game skid, but decent goaltending should get them off the schneid. Lots of time to improve, though.

No.5 BREWSTER – Bears (3-5, 1-4) have allowed 54 goals in 8 games… this will not do. Sean Henderson (19G, 1A) and Sean Hamilton (4G, 9A) are the only two scoring, so the combination of porous defense and little depth have doomed the Bears.

HM YORKTOWN – Tough to consider a one-win team for a top 5 spot, but the Huskers have Carmel head-to-head in a game where the Rams squandered a 2-1 lead in a 6-5 loss to the Yorktown, who saw Frank Gavigan (8G, 8A) post a hat trick for the Huskers, who hit on a five-goal, second-period flurry. Gavigan leads all Huskers in points. James Sallaberry scored twice for the Rams, who have had trouble tickling the twine this season (2.75 GPG), but put up a season-high five on Yorktown, which needs to shore up defensively to make a second-half push. Huskers have big chance to jump up to No.4 on Jan.4 when they take on JFK/PV.

P.S. We don’t distribute in John Jay, but if we did the Indians would likely sit atop the catbird seat; even though they had to squeak one out on Hen Hud.



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