By Mike Dougherty
BREWSTER — After getting a good look at John Jay some 24 hours earlier, Mike Grean offered a simple game plan. The general idea was to play clean and keep Shawn Smith from getting loose. Hen Hud did come up with a good effort, but the execution of the game plan was a little off.
It was a learning experience.
Smith netted four goals and the Indians repeatedly took advantage of the extra man, getting a 5-2 win on Sunday at Brewster Ice Arena.
“Our power play’s been struggling,” Smith said. “We’ve been working on it in practice, and we definitely found our spots tonight and the puck went in. We were being antsy with the puck (on the power play before tonight). Everyone was trying to get it on net and score rather than being patient, finding the open spot and making sure they buried the shot.”
John Jay (10-1) has won seven in a row, and is playing with increased confidence a week after picking up two more wins upstate – against Plattsburgh and Beekmantown.
“Going up there and playing that style, it just makes us better down here,” Indians coach Alex Smith said. “It’s rough and tumble. They let you play, and it’s three lines of guys who can skate. It really makes you play at a higher level. … I think we knew going in that we didn’t have the depth of veterans we had last year. I think our last trip certainly says to the kids we can go around the state and compete.”
And the Sailors know they can skate with the defending Section 1 champion in Division II, although it took 41 saves from Michael Ciafolo to keep the game from getting away.
“We needed a game like this,” said Grean, a first-year head coach.
Smith took advantage of the game’s first power play and gave John Jay a lead, but Vinny Perez knotted the score in the final minutes of the first period.
The Sailors (7-2) were in front 2-1 after Tommy Cascone threw a puck in from the blue line and Tyler Schunk redirected it. Smith killed that rally with two more goals. It remained a 3-2 edge until Hen Hud chased a puck into the corner and was called for interference and roughing.
Smith and Leprine each took advantage of the extra room to roam.
“We kept it close, but that really hurt us,” defenseman Robbie Albano said.
John Jay kept the pressure on in the third period, but Ciofalo was in a stubborn mood.
“Thank God we had that 5-on-3 or else it could have been a much different game,” Leprine said. “With a team like that, they kind of play a trap in the neutral zone, so it was good we got past that and did well on the power play.”