By Mike Dougherty
MONSEY — It’s no longer an upset when a couple of teams from this neck of the woods force upstate powers to endure a long ride home.
Hockey is part of the culture here, too.
Pelham and Suffern did what they do best during the Suffern tournament on Saturday at Sport-O-Rama, finishing a sweep of two Capitol District teams. The Pelicans came up with a 6-3 win against Saratoga. The Mounties followed up with a 3-1 win over Shenendehowa.
“Section 1 is as good as any section in the state,” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said. “It’s a credit to the coaches who’ve developed programs. It’s impressive to have what we have now.”
Pelham claimed the championship based on goal differential. The Pelicans beat Shenendehowa by an 8-4 margin late Friday.
Dan Demarco and Kevin Hill removed some of the suspense from the nightcap, scoring early in the first period within 21 seconds of each other. Tom Brennan made it a 3-0 cushion when he ripped in a shot from the blue line during a second-period power play.
Suffern (12-1) might end up visiting one of these teams if it wins another Section 1 title.
“When we play them in the regular season we’re trying to make a statement that it’s not an easy win,” Brennan said. “If we do get to play them again, this helps us get a feel for what we’re up against.”
Pelham (11-1-1) was shorthanded all evening with five regulars in street clothes. According to head coach Ed Witz, they violated a team rule. Another player was home with an illness.
Somebody had to play big, and senior captain Will Cullen put on a show.
“Not only was he good offensively tonight, he was spectacular defensively,” Witz said. “He basically told me, ‘I got it.’ ”
Cullen scored in the opening minute of the first and second periods to give the Pelicans a 2-1 lead. The Blue Streak answered, but Nick Davidow played a bounce off the boards perfectly and netted a shorthanded goal to make it 3-2. Cullen added to the lead in the final minutes of the period. The flurry was capped by a Hogan Peters slap shot from the circle.
“It really gives the kids who don’t play a lot some confidence because they’re not usually in those situations,” Cullen said.
The Pelicans did not have Andrew Schauer, Hunter Lambdin, Vinny Mazzaro, Matt DeYoung or Henry Brown due to the suspension.