White Plains Defeats Stepinac, 5-2, in Fifth Annual Guy Mathews Invitational

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White Plains junior forward John Myers (center) has a big hug for former teammates Maya Lynch-Samant (left) and Justin Schulz after they presented him the MVP of the Game Award after the Tigers beat the Crusaders, 5-2, in the Guy Mathews Invitational. It was Myers third straight year winning the MVP of the Game Award. Albert Coqueran Photo

If local fans think that the Thanksgiving Holiday Turkey Bowl in the City of White Plains is an event of the past; they should have been at Ebersole Ice Rink on Saturday for the Fifth Annual Guy Mathews Thanksgiving Hockey Invitational.

The five-day event from Wednesday, Nov. 27- Monday, Dec. 2 (no games on Thanksgiving Day,) features 10 teams vying for Championships in three different Divisions. Nonetheless, the highlight for local hockey fans is the White Plains High School versus Stepinac High School hockey game dubbed the “Frozen Turkey Bowl.”

About 1000 fans including students, parents, alumni, teachers and administrators filled the bleachers and encircled every inch of Ebersole Ice Rink for the rivalry contest on Saturday, which faced off at 7:30 p.m. The event is organized with the valuable assistance of the White Plains High School Ice Hockey Parents Association headed by Jerilyn Myers.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano attended the game with his wife CBS News Anchor Mary Calvi, who despite their demanding schedules hardly ever missed their son Chris Spano’s games. Crusaders junior goalie Chris Spano is the second-generation Spano brother in the net for the Crusaders succeeding his brother Michael who graduated in 2017.

“Our sons love goal tending. They were always goaltenders or defensemen in any sport they played. It is a lot of fun and today’s game, playing White Plains, is always a lot of fun. It is our seventh game in a row here and we are looking forward to the game,” stated Yonkers Mayor Spano, upon arriving for the event.

The WPHS Hockey Thanksgiving Invitational was renamed the Coach Guy Mathews Thanksgiving Invitational Ice Hockey Tournament by Tigers Head Hockey Coach Howard Rubenstein after the passing of WPHS longtime hockey coach, guidance counselor and friend Guy Mathews in 2014.

“It is fantastic, many of the students who are in the school now never got the chance to meet Mr. Mathews but we never let his memory go,” acknowledged Rubenstein. “Guy Mathews was White Plains High School Hockey and we play as hard as we can in his memory every single game,” stated Rubenstein, who also named the Tigers locker room trailer after his late friend Mathews.

The Crusaders surrounded Tigers sophomore goalie Justin Esposito (center) often in the game but could only score twice in the first period, as Esposito secured 25 saves in the WPHS, 5-2 win over Stepinac in the Fifth Annual Guy Mathews Thanksgiving Invitational, on Saturday, at Ebersole. Photo by Albert Coqueran

For the third straight year the White Plains Tigers defeated the Stepinac Crusaders in the “Frozen Turkey Bowl” in the Guy Mathews Thanksgiving Hockey Invitational. The Tigers outlasted the Crusaders, 5-2, for the City of White Plains high school hockey bragging rights.

The first period saw back-and-forth goals by Stepinac and White Plains. Crusaders A.J. Falciglia scored first with a goal at 13:40. Then White Plains stickman Jason Monte came back four minutes later bouncing the puck of the shoulder of Crusaders goalie Spano for a score.

As fans screamed and pounded the protective shield encompassing the Ebersole Rink, the game ended in a tie at the end of the first period. White Plains resident Aidan McDonough scored at 6:22 for the Crusaders and Tigers Devin Garnett responded at 4:38 to tie the score.

However, the White Plains skaters led by MVP of the Game junior forward John Myers scored three unanswered goals in the last two periods to win the traditional ice hockey rivalry game, 5-2.

Myers scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, the only score of that period. Then, after Tigers sophomore forward Daniel Cardozo scored early in the third period, Myers scored his second goal of the game stifling the Crusaders, 5-2. “I think after they (Stepinac) scored that first goal, we knew it was a game and we had to turn things around quick and we did,” commented Myers, the Tigers Team Captain.

Besides Myers’ two goals, he also had two assists and Garnett had one goal and three assists. Crusaders Stephen Stackhouse assisted McDonough on his goal.

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