BREWSTER – With six important games to go in the regular season, John Jay is hurtling along with unmistakable purpose.
There’s a measure of humility mixed in, too.
And while the undefeated Indians dispatched Horace Greeley by a surprising 7-2 margin late Saturday at Brewster Ice Arena, not a single player was posing or preening.
Nobody gets a trophy for a noteworthy win in January.
“I don’t know if this sends a message,” said John Jay coach Alex Smith, whose team improved to 13-0-1. “Greeley played Friday night and we didn’t, so it’s just a hard-fought victory during the regular season. I don’t know if there’s any message sent one way or the other.”
Maybe not, but the Quakers were undefeated, too, when the game started.
“We needed this,” Greeley defenseman Blake Davis said. “There were times in practice where we weren’t going our hardest, so I think this was a good wake-up call and Monday in practice we’re going to go harder than we have all year.”
The Quakers, who have a 12-1-2 record, came out looking to steal another headline and were all over the puck early. None of the early chances wound up getting by Matt Lanza.
Shawn Smith came into the zone and straight down the slot three minutes into the game, and was able to give the Indians a 1-0 lead when he fired to a stick-side opening and beat Neil Hershman. John Jay was in the right frame of mind.
“It was definitely something we emphasized coming into the game, we wanted to get a good start and put the pressure on and I think we did that,” Indians forward Frazier Bostick said. “We got the first goal and that was big for us.”
Smith deflected a shot that defenseman Anthony Scapperotti threw in front a short time later to up the lead. John Tobin worked to control the puck deep in the zone with seven minutes to go in the first period and scored off a backhand move to make it 3-0.
“I was looking around, looking at the kids, and I think we were all a little shell shocked,” Greeley coach Zach Dargaty said. “When you start these games, you’re excited, but you have to be ready. I don’t think we were ready.
“We haven’t played a lot of teams like John Jay. They’re bigger and older. We’ve been telling the kids, the teams we’re going to struggle against are the teams that are older and more physical. We played a team last night (Masuk, Conn.) that I purposely put on the schedule because I knew they were a banging team, but they don’t finish like John Jay can. John Jay has three or four kids who can really finish and that was the difference. They were stronger on the puck and it took us a little while to adjust to that. Our mistakes turned into goals. Their mistakes didn’t hurt them.”
Thomas Blaney set Bostwick up with two minutes to play in the first period with a pretty centering pass. It was 4-0 just like that.
“I’m thinking it must’ve killed them,” Scapperotti said. “I’m not taking anything away from them because they are a great team and they did come out hard. It’s really not fun when you’re down like that.”
The Quakers finally ended the run when Calder Fontaine scored a power-play goal in the final seconds of the first.
It was a 4-2 game after Dean Klein got loose and showed off stick skills early in the second, but Scapperotti and Bostwick each scored a goal in the last five minutes of the period.
Smith got the last goal when he intercepted a bad clear by Hershman.
“We were definitely happy with the result,” Bostwick said. “I thought we played a good, team game, so it doesn’t really matter what the score was.”
Lanza came up with 20 saves in a game played without two defensive regulars. Mark Leprine was playing juniors and Jack Wertz is serving a disqualification suspension. Scapperotti was busy, although he got plenty of defensive help from the likes of Jeremy Morowitz, Jesse Gasperino and Tobin.
Instead of locking Greeley down, they scrambled effectively.
“Depth is nice to have because we know we’ll be able to get off the ice and catch our breath while somebody else is out there, working hard and doing what we were just doing,” Scapperotti said.
The Quakers’ biggest task going forward is convincing the underclassmen they still have a chance to win a Section 1 title.
“It’s going to be important for the seniors and the upperclassmen to show them it’s one game and we have to keep going hard. Definitely. I think that’s big for us. Now we know what to expect. We have to play better next time we face a top program because we know what it’s going to take to win.”