Suffern’s Kevin Hill (15) lays on the ice after their 3-2 loss to Saratoga in the NY State Quarterfinal hockey game between at Sport-O-Rama in Monsey on March 2, 2013. ( John Meore/The Journal News ) / John Meore/The Journal News
By Mike Dougherty
MONSEY — Several minutes after the postgame celebration moved into the Saratoga locker room, a majority of the players on the Suffern roster lingered on the ice.
Nobody was ready to go home.
The Mounties worked to manufacture a little more drama in the closing minutes, but came up short, falling 3-2 to Saratoga in a Division 1 state quarterfinal Saturday night at Sport-O-Rama. For the first time since 2009, there will be no trip up to Utica.
“Words can’t even describe this. It’s a sick feeling,” Suffern defenseman Anthony Carudo said. “You have to give them credit; they played their guts out and it went their way this year.”
The Blue Streak will play Niagara-Wheatfield on Saturday in a NYSPHSAA semifinal.
All things considered, it was a pretty good run for the defending state champion. Suffern had to replace more than a few marquee players and kept stringing together wins despite mixing and matching the lineup due to injuries.
The exclamation point came a week ago when the Mounties survived Mamaroneck to win a fourth consecutive Section 1 championship.
“After winning a state championship and having so many seniors, it was one of those things, what are we going to be this year?” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said. “These kids believed and they fought hard. … I’m so grateful to have coached them. What they did in the sectional championship and tonight again, they could have folded and they didn’t, and that says a lot about them.”
Saratoga came out flying and scored twice in the first three minutes.
Matt Flynn beat Mounties goalie Nick Modica to the post with 1:14 gone, then Ryan Flynn added to the lead when he capped off a textbook breakout with a goal.
Heads were momentarily hanging.
“I kind of lost confidence there for a minute,” Suffern forward Nick Jaeger said.
Dan DeMarco picked everyone up when he took a feed from Kevin Hill and buried the puck four minutes into the game. It snapped a string of scoreless minutes by Blue Streak goalie Dakota Smith just shy of 162 minutes.
Jaeger happened upon a rebound after Justin Tiso sent a puck in and knotted the score two minutes later.
“I saw the puck laying there and just wanted to get it on net,” he said. “I got it off my stick as quick as I could. I didn’t know where it went. I saw the goal light come on and everyone was coming toward me, so we had a chance there.”
Finding room to maneuver was difficult the rest of the way.
“They did a great job,” Carudo said. “Obviously, they studied us and knew where to be. Give them credit for being able to trap us like that.”
And when Tyler Bullard finally broke a 2-2 with 3:25 gone in the third period, there was a loud groan from the home crowd. There was still plenty of time, and Saratoga did make a couple of mistakes down the stretch.
Nobody was able to get on the puck to capitalize.
“There are always a lot of expectations for us,” Jaeger said. “Every night. We just wanted to come out and win no matter who we were playing. We didn’t get the job done tonight, but we should have no regrets.”