By Nancy Haggerty
If the game hadn’t been so well played, the obvious pun would have been that so-and-so played in a fog.
After all, the unseasonably warm temperatures and drizzle created such fog at Ebersol Ice Rink Thursday night that officials stopped play with 7:14 left, summoning the Zamboni for an ice cut.
That did improve the sightline — well, for two minutes. But it didn’t change the outcome.
White Plains, which led by a goal at the break behind Phil Variano’s two goals, topped North Rockland 3-1 to improve to 4-0.
Variano, who has seven goals, of course, played a huge role in the win.
But while his coach, Howie Rubensein, praised him, saying, “He’s a natural leader. He’s a workhorse. He plays with passion,” he and North Rockland coach Gary Dwarkowitz pointed to goalie Chris Stangarone as being the difference-maker.
“If he didn’t play, we don’t win,” Rubenstein said, simply.
It wasn’t that Stangarone, who had 29 saves, had no support.
Defenseman Chris Medeot had a great clear after a shot trickled behind Stangarone in the second period and Antonio Capello and Brendan McDonough kept North Rockland largely bottled up in its own end during a third-period Red Raider power play.
But Stangarone made some highlight-reel-quality saves.
Two came with White Plains down a man right before Jeff Cool knotted the score with 3:02 left in the second period — Cool’s goal coming two seconds after the power play expired.
After Stangarone’s second great save — on a left kick stop on a Mark McElroy chance — Cool scored from the high slot.
But Variano gave the Tigers the lead to stay, beating Anthony Depinto with 12:50 left in the third period.
Depinto also had a very good game, stopping 24 chances. In fact, he had just stuffed Variano on his right post before the puck caromed out from behind the net to Variano on the first goal.
Matt Conroy iced the game with an unassisted empty-net goal with 37.2 seconds left.
But the focus was on Stangarone.
“Good teams always find a way to win, even when they don’t play their best, especially with one of the best goalies in the section,” Variano said.