By Mike Dougherty
YONKERS — Everything is falling into place for Pelham.
Another run deep into the postseason hinged on getting everyone back on the ice and up to speed with time enough to build the momentum. The defending champs in Division 2 are finally getting healthy, and they posted a 4-2 win over Scarsdale in a rematch of last year’s Section 1 title game Friday at E.J. Murray Skating Center.
It’s a good jumping-off point.
“Everything is coming together at the right time,” said Pelicans forward Andrew Schauer, who returned after missing 10 games with a concussion. “Playoffs are still a few weeks away and this is how we want to go in.”
Pelham (8-4-2, 4-0-1) clinched at least a share of the Conference II championship, and will claim it outright with a win over Sleepy Hollow/Irvington/Dobbs Ferry on Feb. 13.
Winning league titles isn’t usually a big deal for a power program. Coming out ahead of Mamaroneck, White Plains, New Rochelle and the Raiders (8-3-1, 2-2-1) makes it a moment worth celebrating.
“It has a lot of meaning,” junior forward Will Donovan said. “We’ve won it the last two years, and it’s not something that comes easy so we are excited about it.”
Matt Blakely gave Scarsdale a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes after the Pelicans made a mistake with the puck deep in the zone. He set up goalie Matt DeYoung with a couple of stick fakes and scored before anyone could say whoops.
“We have been making those mistakes — but you know what? — better now than February,” Pelham coach Ed Witz said. “If we make a mistake, it’s OK because we’re learning.”
Schauer looked comfortable, but will need more time before he’s in top shape again.
The junior forward was on the puck in a matter of seconds after coming over the wall for the first time in a month. He was looking to make something happen, and did exactly that when he flipped in a rebound five minutes into the game to knot the score at 1-1.
Donovan had the Pelicans in front by the end of the first. He only had to set up and wait for Will Cullen to push the puck up the ice. A crossing pass slid by the last defender, and Donovan buried the shot.
Schauer upped the lead to 3-1 after Tristain Weeks came upon a loose puck in the neutral zone, drew the defender and left the puck for his oversized teammate. It was a clean getaway. Schauer came in and muscled the puck by Ian Marinelli.
“It took me a little bit to get started, but once I got that first goal, I felt like I was right back in the swing of things,” Schauer said.
Blakely deposited another turnover, bringing Scarsdale within 3-2 before the second period ended, but Donovan scored off a David Morgan assist early in the third.
“We were playing too timid,” Raiders coach Jim Mancuso said. “They outshot us 14-5 in the first period. We played much better in the second and outshot them. And when you need to score goals and you only get four shots in the third period, you don’t deserve to win.”