By Mike Dougherty
NORWALK, CONN. — The frustration was evident when Connor McGovern wound up at the blue line and threw a nasty slap shot on net seconds after Rye failed to make anything of a 5-on-3 advantage.
And it somehow deflected into the net.
Overtime seemed a certainty until McGovern broke a disjointed deadlock with four minutes to play, and the Garnets added two open-netters to secure a 4-1 victory and remove John Jay from the ranks of the undefeated on Saturday at SoNo Icehouse.
The defense at both ends was unrelenting, so it was a hard-earned win.
“I was just barely inside the blue line,” McGovern said. “I just had the puck and took a slap shot to get it on net. I just let one rip. It was definitely farther away than most of the other shots I took. I think it hit off somebody and I just got lucky.”
The whistles made it difficult for either side to gain momentum, but the Division 2 contenders were a combined 1 for 14 on the power play.
It was difficult to get things organized either way.
“It’s hard work,” Garnets coach Jason Friesen said. “You draw stuff up for the kids. You ask them to try and do this or that, but at the end it comes down to working hard. The best penalty killers are the guys who commit to work hard and do anything.”
A defensive lapse seven minutes into the game set Frazier Bostwick loose in the open ice, which is a serious problem. He cruised in and gave the Indians a 1-0 lead.
The equalizer came from Danny Sullivan, who was parked outside the crease later in the period when a Cal Hynson shot managed to slip through John Jay goalie Matt Lanza and into open space. And that was it for the scoring until McGovern’s desperation shot.
John Jay (13-1-1) applied pressure, but was not able to spend a lot of quality minutes playing 5-on-5.
“We just weren’t disciplined,” said forward Jack Grimm, who experienced at least two close calls in the final minutes. “I think we become a little more urgent (when the puck isn’t going in). We need to relax a little more.”
Aiden Talgo came up with 28 saves to back a swarming defense. He is playing well at exactly the right time. The Garnets (10-3-1) will play rival Pelham on Thursday, and the playoffs are three weeks away.
“Last year I started out playing well, but as the season went on, I began to fade,” the senior net minder said. “This year I wanted to avoid that, so I’ve maintained focus. I want to win a bunch more games.”
Sullivan and Chris Lipari added goals in the last minute after Lanza was off the ice for the extra man.