By Mike Dougherty
MONSEY — Pearl River opened the season with five straight wins and was anxious to see how it measured up against the best team in Section 1 over the last four seasons.
Suffern continues to be head-and-shoulders above the competition on this side of the river.
Kevin Hill again led the charge with three goals, propelling the Mounties to a 6-1 win over the Pirates on Friday at Sport-O-Rama. And while the competition in Rockland is slowly improving, the Mounties now have won 29 in a row against county opponents.
That run began seven years ago following a loss to Clarkstown North.
No team in Section 1 plays with the proverbial target on its back as much as Suffern, which is why there is constant emphasis on playing the opening and closing minutes of the first period with unmatched intensity.
“Our work ethic is so good out there,” Mounties forward Dan DeMarco said. “We’ve all been together so long, and it’s tough beating a team that works the way that we do with one another.”
The goal is to make sure opponents don’t skate off with any confidence.
“We know going into each game we’re going to get the other team’s best effort,” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said. “The guys are used to it and know they have to bring their ‘A’ game or we’re going to be in trouble.”
Pearl River (5-1) was being careful with the puck at the outset, but a bad turnover in the middle of the ice three minutes in turned Justin Tiso loose. He charged in and gave the Mounties (5-1) a quick lead.
The next mistake was just as costly.
Max McGee pushed in deep for the Pirates, blasting a shot that ricocheted off Nick Modica’s pad and travelled into open ice. Kevin Hill was going the other way in an instant. He came in on a breakaway, showed the puck to Sam Coughlin, reeled it back in when the goalie went low, and calmly finished wide with the backhand to make it a 2-0 cushion.
“It started with a great pass from Justin Tiso,” Hill said. “He always seems to find me. We have been together since we were 3 years old, and it helped on that one.”
Hill struck again four minutes into the second with help from DeMarco and Troy Daniels, and seconds later, Michael Redgate stretched the lead to 4-0. Hill netted one more on a wrist shot by Hill from the bottom of the circle in the last minute of the period.
“It was a good learning experience,” Pearl River coach Brian DelSavio said. “You might get away with those mistakes against other teams, but Suffern exploits them.”