Local Hockey Teams Start the New Year With Mixed Results

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By Cutler Klein – 

As winter vacation came to a close, all four local high school hockey teams hit the ice yet again. It was quite the wild weekend, with everything from double-digit wins to tight, intense contests. Here’s a look at how the Northern Westchester squads fared as 2015 got underway at the Brewster Ice Arena:

Horace Greeley's Sam Mishkind takes the puck along the left wing in Friday's game vs. Somers/North Salem.
Horace Greeley’s Sam Mishkind takes the puck along the left wing
in Friday’s game vs. Somers/North Salem.

Horace Greeley

It was a tale of two Quaker squads this weekend. Greeley (6-4) started off its weekend with a rough 5-3 defeat Friday afternoon at the hands of the Somers/North Salem Sabers. Trailing 4-1 going into the third period, the Quakers climbed back into it with goals from Garrett Katchis and Sam Whitehouse. However, they couldn’t solve Sabers goaltender Tim Henning again, and Somers eventually tacked on an empty-net goal.

The Quakers applied the early pressure and held possession for most of the first period. But with 35 seconds remaining in the period, Somers captain Luigi Olinto was awarded a penalty shot and made the Quakers pay, giving the Sabers a 1-0 lead going into the second period.

The second frame was not too kind to Greeley, as Somers scored twice on odd-man rushes to take a 3-0 lead. The Quakers did have a three-minute power play opportunity, but couldn’t cash in. Greeley captain Sam Mishkind eventually put the Quakers on the board late in the second, but Somers struck back just 31 seconds later to regain its three-goal advantage.

The first two periods looked very sloppy for the Quakers. Greeley assistant coach Bruce Perlowitz said that Greeley’s inconsistency is nothing new.

“We’ve been an up-and-down team all year long,” Perlowitz said. “We don’t really know what we’re going to get when the game starts. We seem to know what we’re going to get later in the game, but not when the game starts.”

Greeley was able to outshoot the Sabers in the third period by 10 shots, but it wasn’t enough. The Quakers finished with 34 shots on goal, but Perlowitz said that squandered opportunities ended up coming back to bite them.

“We had quality scoring chances, but we actually missed the net,” he said. “That really hurt.”

Following the loss, Greeley rebounded in a big way on Sunday night, torching the Lakeland/Panas Rebels by a score of 17-3. The Quakers found the back of the net early with goals from freshmen Dillon Rusiecki and Ming Zheng. But the Rebels struck back quickly with back-to-back goals on senior goaltender Matt Solnick, making his first-ever start in goal.

“That first goal early got in my head a little bit,” said Solnick, admitting he became a little rattled. “That’s why the second goal happened right after. After that first period, I gathered myself, and I think I was much stronger for the rest of the game.”

Greeley finished out the first period with goals from Mishkind, Nick Sloan and Scott Jakubowicz. The barrage was on from there, as the Quakers sent 87 shots on net throughout the entire game.

The Quakers found offense from some unusual sources. Sophomore Nick Sloan had a hat trick, and youngsters Zheng and Rusiecki found the back of the net. Senior Sammy Attia had three assists, all in the third period. The veterans also got on the score sheet, as Mishkind finshed the game with a hat trick, and Cooper Swenson finished with two goals, including one on a penalty shot. Mishkind said that the scoring assault gave the entire team, a huge confidence boost.

“The young players don’t get to play too much, so it’s great to see them play and be able to score,” he said.

Greeley scored eight times in the third period, drawing some concern from the Lakeland/Panas coaching staff. But Perlowitz was defiant after the game, saying that the Quakers had no intention of embarrassing their opponent.

“We never want to show anybody up,” he said. “We don’t want to run up the score. However, I’m not going to tell my players to stop playing. What should we do, play keep-away?”

Greg Kramer of the Mt. Pleasant IceCats leads a rush up the ice in Friday's 5-1 win vs. John Jay at Brewster Ice Arena.
Greg Kramer of the Mt. Pleasant IceCats leads a rush up the ice in
Friday’s 5-1 win vs. John Jay at Brewster Ice Arena.

Mount Pleasant vs. Byram Hills

The Mount Pleasant IceCats (6-2) made the trek north to Brewster Ice Arena Saturday and took down the Byram Hills Bobcats (1-6) by a score of 3-2. The IceCats were coming off of a 5-1 victory against John Jay-Cross River 24 hours earlier, while the Bobcats were playing their first game following the winter break.

Matthew Behar got the scoring started early in the first period for Byram Hills, but Mount Pleasant struck back quickly with a goal from Oscar Marchi, his third in two games. IceCats head coach Josh Isenberg said Marchi has been a key player lately.

“He’s been great,” Isenberg said. “Not only has he been a great leader on the ice, but he’s been a great guy off the ice. He’s a big kid, and hard to knock off the puck.”

Byram Hills re-took the lead with less than a minute to go in the first period on a goal from Joe Rocco, only to have the IceCats knot it up again with six seconds left in the frame with a tally by Greg Kramer. The second period was scoreless, but Kramer beat Byram Hills goaltender Grace Lunder early in the third period, and that was all they needed. Despite the victory, though, Isenberg was not happy with his team’s performance.

“I was a little disappointed,” he said. “Our kids were looking past this game. We had a little more talent than them, but we had to fight for everything we got.”

Byram Hills head coach Andrew Cloherty noted that his team had been undefeated when scoring the first goal until last night and saw some good things from his players.

“Our team was resilient,” he said. “We continually scored, and had two leads in the game.”

But according to Cloherty, there was also plenty for the Bobcats to learn from in this contest.

“Two of the three goals we gave up were in the last minute and first minute of periods,” he said. “Any hockey player knows that those are the worst times to give up goals.”

The IceCats hope to keep their hot streak going into the new year, and begin to focus more on themselves, rather than the opponent.

“Byram Hills played a good game, but I think with our talent it should have been an easier game,” Isenberg said. “We need to be more consistent playing our game and not worry about who the other team is. “

Despite the tough loss, the Bobcats are looking forward to a strong January.

“We’ve got a young team,” said Cloherty, “and we’re hoping that the second half of the season, we can fix some things. We’ve had four one-goal losses, and we can turn them around into one-goal wins.”

Fox Lane

The Foxes (0-5) were missing a few familiar faces this weekend, for a number of reasons. Junior forward Thomas Tenney, who has been a scoring machine for Fox Lane thus far, was away at a recruiting event in Colorado. Matthew Leader, Ryder Beitzel, A.J. Crawford and Tanner More were all suspended for their roles in fights during the December 21 loss to Greeley. Fox Lane head coach Scott Miele was also suspended for leaving the bench in a brief brawl with the Quakers.

Without most of their top talent, the Foxes fell to Somers/North Salem 9-0 on Sunday night. Somers found the score sheet early and often, with multi-goal games from RJ LaSpina and Max Tytla. The Foxes saw an opportunity to give depth players a chance at some ice time and rotated in lots of different players throughout the game. After facing 25 shots in two periods, Fox Lane standout goaltender Abbie Ives, exhausted from playing for travel teams and needing a rest, was replaced in net.

Despite the lopsided score, assistant coach Kenneth Freitag was happy with his team’s play.

“I think we played a heck of a game,” he said. “We played guys that hardly ever touch the ice. They (the Sabers) didn’t dominate us the whole game, but they dominated the scoreboard.”

The Foxes may now be losing another key because, early in the third period, s Kirk Atkinson delivered a hard check into the boards to Somers forward Olivia Hale. He was thrown out of the game and a suspension may be forthcoming.

“It was an unfortunate event,” Freitag said. “We don’t promote dirtiness on this team. It was an unlucky hit. He should have slowed up and he didn’t. It’s part of the game.”

The Foxes did find out a lot about their depth players, and will look to improve ahead of their big rivalry showdown against Byram Hills this Friday.

“I learned that I can trust some players that I wasn’t sure I could trust,” Freitag said.

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