White Plains will be going for its first sectional championship in 30 years on Sunday, thanks to nine unanswered goals against two of the top 5 teams in the state. The Tigers shut out Suffern for the second straight time, winning 3-0 at Sport-O, after scoring six straight to beat Clarkstown North 6-4 on Wednesday.
Mike Pavarini was the star of the game, making 35 saves (22 in the third period), but of course it was a team effort. The first line of Aaron Klimchuk, Dan Broderick and Steve McCarrick created both goals (defenseman Ryan McGee added an empty netter), the second line kept up the pressure and the defense of McGee, Harrison McCandless and Jack Peeples stood strong.
It was White Plains’ first-ever win against Suffern at Sport-O (and just its second win against Suffern in the program’s 40-year history, after a 4-0 win at Ebersole three weeks ago). The Tigers forechecked hard, got the puck deep, made smart passes, cycled the puck, and got in front of the net. Plus their goalie stood on his head.
My story has reaction from Pavarini, McCandless and coach Howie Rubenstein. It also has some facts about Klimchuk, who scored the winner with three minutes left in the second period — he missed the quarterfinal game with food poisoning, he came over from RCDS as a defenseman this year, he was one of three juniors who missed their junior prom last night (along with McGee and Jeremy Lindh), and perhaps most interesting of all, he wore No. 10 last night instead of the usual No. 27 because assistant coach Mark Sanchez, who wore No. 27 for the Tigers, is taking that uniform with him when he ships out to Iraq soon (he’s in the Army Reserves).
I asked Rubenstein about what’s different this year: “Our defense is a lot better this year, and we play a little different system. We get pucks deep, we’re not relying on our speed to get the puck in all the time. We just want to chip it in and make the other team work.”
Their opponent Sunday at 4 p.m. will be the Tigers from Mamaroneck (fast fact — what’s a group of Tigers called? Click here for the answer.) Mamaroneck scored six straight to beat Mahopac 6-1. Brett Jackson had three goals and two assists, including a goal 12 seconds after Mahopac scored to go up 1-0. Also, senior Sean Hagan (two assists) set the school record for assists by a defenseman (144). Dan Marra was at Hommocks for that one.
Mahopac was still within 3-1 and had a 5-on-3 to start the third period, but the Tigers killed that off. Mamaroneck also scored six unanswered to beat North Rockland 7-2 in the quarterfinals.
I’ll post a finals preview after the Division II semis tomorrow, but I did want to look back for a second and congratulate Mahopac and Suffern for making it this far. The Indians actually started 4-11 before coming up with some big wins against teams like Pelham and White Plains, and of course they got past a really tough Lakeland/Panas team in overtime to make it back to the sectional semifinals. With only three seniors graduating, the future looks bright for next year. Meanwhile, the Mounties lost five starters off last year’s incredible team — the word “rebuilding” was even thrown around a little bit — but a host of newcomers, led by goalie Paul Gabriel, really took advantage of their opportunities and Suffern was 30 seconds away against Mamaroneck from winning another League 1 title.
I’ll be back early tomorrow with a look at the Division II semifinal matchups. And the results from the latest poll are in — 81 out of 132 thought the Section 1 finals should be at Tate Rink.