By Mike Dougherty
BREWSTER — Tommy Kirincic gladly accepted the gleaming trophy, but smartly decided against raising it overhead in celebration.
It’s good to maintain perspective.
Mahopac hockey is off to an excellent start, capturing the McLaughlin Division of the Brewster Ice Arena Thanksgiving Icebreaker Tournament with a 5-2 win Sunday night over Hen Hud. The next step is maintaining the forward progress.
“This definitely helps,” said Kirincic, a standout defenseman. “You always want to start the season off right. You want to get the momentum going, and keep it going.”
Matt Stefunek gave the Indians (2-0) a quick lead, scoring off the power play five minutes in. The answer came in short order from Ramsey Heitman, but Mahopac regained the lead when Matt Derosa scored with four minutes to play in the first period.
The Sailors (2-1) could not sustain pressure.
Jonathon Matrocola upped the lead to 3-1 early in the second period, but in the next minute, Ian Melono got loose for a breakaway goal to bring Hen Hud back into the game. Derosa showed up in the right spot one more time, scoring with 9:38 to go in the period.
“We had to stop their momentum and get some momentum for ourselves, and that’s exactly how you do it,” Derosa said of his timely responses.
A scrambling Indians defense took over from there.
“We had a few chances to tie them up, but we’d just miss by an inch or two,” Sailors forward Brett Malinowski said. “They’d get a break and get one in the net. It was definitely frustrating.”
The hardware every Section 1 team covets is the plaque given out at the end of the season, and the Indians would like to be in contention. Right now, this team is under the radar. Suffern, White Plains, Scarsdale and Mamaroneck remain the favorites in Division I.
“We have a long way to go,” Mahopac coach Chris Lombardo said. “We do have some juniors now who have a lot of varsity experience, and the biggest thing is we have really good chemistry.”
The game is fun again.
“Last year, we had a tough time getting along,” Derosa said. “Tommy gets a lot of credit for that. He’s doing a great job keeping everyone together and making sure nobody is doing anything stupid.”
Austin Johnson poured in four goals to help Pawling capture the Orlando Division with a 6-3 win over Brewster, which got into the championship game by knocking off Carmel the previous day. Sean Henderson, who had four goals in the two games, is waiting for a young supporting cast to gain weight and experience.
“We have a good group,” he said. “We’re hoping for the best, and this is a hard-working team so they can help us grind it out.”
Somers/North Salem claimed the Shaw Division late Saturday, hanging on for a 4-3 win over Yorktown.