John Jay goalie Matt Lanza (1) blocks a shot from Peham’s Nick Ronan (14) during a boys hockey Section 1 Division 2 playoff game at the Brewster Ice Arena Feb. 22, 2013. ( Frank Becerra Jr / The Journal News ) To view a gallery of photos from the game, click here.
By Mike Dougherty
BREWSTER — Matt Lanza was completely surrounded in the final minutes. Pucks were coming in from every angle. John Jay was killing penalty after penalty, relying on its unsinkable goaltender to deflect each desperate attempt.
There was no chance to breathe once the buzzer sounded, either.
Lanza was immediately mobbed by grateful teammates after saving a 5-3 win over Pelham on Friday in a Section 1 Division 2 semifinal at Brewster Ice Arena. The Indians will play Rye here on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the championship.
They have not played in a title game since 2007.
“It felt like an eternity,” Lanza said of a closing stretch that included two John Jay penalties in the last five minutes. “I was thinking, ‘This is not what we need right now.’ They are one hell of a team with a great power play, we didn’t need to be giving them scoring chances.”
The junior stood tall in net, though, and walked away with 42 saves.
“Killing those last penalties was huge,” Indians defenseman Anthony Scapperotti said. “Matt stood on his head. We got the puck out just enough to get some line changes, but that was all Matt and some big saves.”
John Jay came in with the No. 1 seed and came out looking to make an impression against the defending champs, using a size and strength advantage whenever an opportunity to play the body presented itself.
The previous two seasons ended with playoff losses to the Pelicans, which served as motivation.
Lucas Prestamo capitalized on a turnover right in front two minutes into the game and beat Matt DeYoung top corner to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. A little hustle in the neutral zone helped Mark Leprine come in clean and give John Jay a 2-0 edge a short time later.
The answer finally came from Andrew Schauer, who powered in off the faceoff to get Pelham on the board. Frazier Bostwick made it 3-1 when he collected another bad pass along the boards and slipped in front.
“I wasn’t expecting that puck to come to me,” Bostwick said. “I think he was looking to sauce the puck into the neutral zone and it hit off my arm.”
The crowd was jumping up and down again with 2:09 to go in the first period when Anthony Manno threw in one more to make it a 4-1 cushion.
“We made a couple of bad turnovers looking to force the play,” Pelicans coach Ed Witz said. “All the credit to John Jay. Once they got the lead, they held the lead. We were all over them in the second and third periods, but they didn’t break.”
The Pelicans survived a 5-on-3 scenario in the opening minutes of the second, and seemed to be on the verge of building some momentum. A scramble in front left the puck floating in the crease near the goal line. The red light went on and off. A nervous defenseman cleared the puck before it crossed over.
Play continued on and Jack Grimm scored at the other end some 30 seconds after the near goal to give the Indians a 5-1 advantage.
Pelham was keeping the pressure on for long stretches and getting shot after shot on net. Lanza was busy. He didn’t let anything in until Will Cullen picked up a loose puck at the blue line and came in with time and space, making it 5-2. Schauer narrowed the deficit with five minutes to go.