Suffern players jump all over Mike Redgate (7) after he scored the game-winning goal in sudden death overtime to defeat Mamaroneck 3-2 as goalie Tom Brill lay on the ice in the boys hockey Section 1 Division 1 championship game at the Brewster Ice Arena Feb. 24, 2013. ( Frank Becerra Jr / The Journal News )
By Mike Dougherty
BREWSTER — All the past success is helpful, but Suffern also has to deal with a fair amount of anxiety each time a Section 1 hockey championship is on the line.
Nobody on the Mounties wants to be responsible for ending the streak.
Mike Redgate and Nick Jaeger certainly weren’t looking forward to hearing the criticism from across the dinner table, and they came through just in time, delivering a 3-2 overtime win over Mamaroneck on Sunday night at Brewster Ice Arena to run the string to four in a row.
Both have older brothers who played big roles in the first three Section 1 Division 1 titles.
Jaeger forced the overtime, knotting the score with a mere 58.7 seconds to go in regulation, and Redgate tapped in the game winner five minutes into overtime.
“There’s a lot of pressure, but the experience does help, winning three in a row,” said Redgate, who deflected a Tom Brennan slap shot after Justin Tiso had moved the puck out top. “I know we’ve been here before; still, if you don’t win, it’s a letdown.”
Redgate barely had a chance to get his arms up in the air before he was swarmed.
The Mounties, the defending state champions, will meet Section 2 winner Saratoga on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Sport-O-Rama with another trip to Utica on the line.
“I’ll tell you what: The Jaeger and Redgate families are what Suffern hockey is about, and to have their little brothers come in here and get the tying goal and the winning goal is special,” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said.
The rival programs gave a packed house one heck of a show.
It only took a minute for the nerves to settle and there was plenty of back and forth in the early going. Both goaltenders were immediately put on the spot. Suffern’s Nick Modica and Mamaroneck’s Thomas Brill deftly turned away shots from the doorstep, letting everyone know they were up for the challenge.
Suffern’s Kevin Hill was turned away twice in the opening minutes, but he eventually got a chance to celebrate. A little hustle from John Costa forced a turnover deep in the Tigers’ zone and he got the puck to Robert Clark, who spotted Hill lurking on the far post without anyone to get in the way. The extra pass did the job, and Hill gave the Mounties a 1-0 lead with 2:58 to go in the first period.
A little more fire on the ice helped the Tigers take control of the puck after the first intermission. Trey Herlitz-Ferguson got a defenseman on his left hip, and skated in front of Modica five minutes into the second period, then shot back to the far post to knot the score 1-1.
Peter Conley got Mamaroneck in front nearly five minutes later when he got loose and got in for a short-handed goal.
No matter what Suffern did, it could not solve Brill.
The Tigers did have some chances to put the game away, but Modica wasn’t letting anything in, either. He came up huge on another Conley breakaway and made a big-time save with the glove.
“I told Robert Clark, I fought hard for you guys, now go down and fight hard for me,” said Modica, who made 25 saves.
The Mounties were getting some pressure on, and Schelling called time with 1:06 to go in regulation to settle everyone down and remind them to throw everything on net.
“I thought we had it,” Mamaroneck coach Mike Chiapparelli said.
“All we had to do was get the puck out of the zone. They would’ve pulled the goalie. I thought we were in great shape. We actually won the faceoff, but the puck hit a skate and went back into the corner.”
And it ended up behind the net, where Hill played it back to Jaeger on the left post.
“I just knocked it right in,” Jaeger said. “It’s definitely hard not to be nervous in that situation, but we were still confident. I didn’t even know what was going on after I scored. All I heard was the crowd going crazy.
“It was unbelievable, just a great feeling.”