(Note: I added some quotes that didn’t fit in the version that ran in The Journal News.)
By Mike Dougherty
MOUNT VERNON — Minutes after Scarsdale earned an opportunity to play for a Section 1 title, Matt Blakley was still lamenting a humbling loss way back in the season-opener.
It apparently left an impression on the Raiders.
The senior forward was ecstatic about the collective effort Scarsdale delivered on Tuesday during a 3-0 win over Mamaroneck in a Section 1 Division 1 semifinal at the Ice Hutch.
“We got this one playing together, like a team,” Blakley said.
That chemistry is exactly what the Raiders were missing in December when Pearl River came over the bridge and pulled off the upset. Next up for Scarsdale is Suffern, a team it beat 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 31. They will meet again in the championship game at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Brewster Ice Arena.
“We don’t care what team we are playing,” senior forward James Felix said. “We just wanted to get back to the final.”
The second-seeded Raiders (19-3) lost the Division 2 title in 2012 against Pelham, and that playoff run helped with the approach.
“We knew this team had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Blakley said of Mamaroneck. “A couple of years ago, we were the No. 8 seed and went to the sectional finals. We knew this team was playing great hockey and we came out ready to play.”
The Tigers (9-12-1) were not playing like a typical No. 6 seed and did a nice job of keeping James Nicholas, Devon Schell and Blakely in check. That line has accounted for nearly 100 goals this season, but they were struggling to find the net early on.
All three scores came off turnovers.
Brandon Bank jumped on a loose puck in the corner and lobbed it in front where James Felix applied the finishing touch to put Scarsdale in front 1-0 with 5:25 to go in the first period. The second period was a flurry of back-and-forth activity with Raiders netminder Gabe Harousseau and Mamaroneck goalie Brian Carducci making highlight-worthy saves.
“Our game plan was to get to the third period with a chance to win and we did, but they outplayed us badly there,” Tigers coach Mike Chiapparelli said.
Schell went wide with a shot three minutes into the third, and Blakely took some of the pressure off when he played the rebound off the boards perfectly and scored on a wrap-around. He also forced a turnover a short time later and fed Nicholas for the final goal.
“That (second) one took a lot of pressure off us,” Blakely said. “We knew the next goal was big. We try to get big momentum shifts and that was one.”
Mamaroneck simply over-skated the play.
“We were skating hard,” Chiapparelli said. “We told the guys that happens in this rink, and we were trying to do it ourselves, shoot wide off the board and put the rebound in. Their goalie came up with some really big saves, and we missed a couple of open nets. We had our chances. It was a battle.”
Harousseau, who for most of the season was in a platoon with Anton Zock, finished with 27 saves.
“Gabe’s played really well,” Raiders coach Jim Mancuso said. “A shutout is fantastic, but the competition between Gabe and Anton during practice is great. One guy feeds off the other guy. It keeps them both sharp. That competition is great, them pushing each other in practice is a big help.”
So is the contribution from the second line, which also includes Stephen Nicholas. That group did more than kill time for Scarsdale.
“The second-line guys were really working and that’s what we need,” Mancuso said. “We needed those guys to step up.”