By Brian Heyman
MONSEY — The last line of defense stood between Suffern and its next step in a drive for five straight Section 1 Division 1 championships, the standout protecting the White Plains goal in this Sport-O-Rama semifinal, Chris Stangarone.
The junior made 31 saves, but the top-seeded Mounties got three past him, including the decisive third-period goal by Justin Tiso. And they ended up edging No. 4 White Plains 3-2 Tuesday night.
So Suffern is up to 18-3-1. Come 1:30 Sunday at Brewster Ice Arena, the Mounties will face No. 2 Scarsdale for the title.
“All season, this is what we played for,” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said. “I would say we want to be the best at the end of the year, and we’re playing great hockey right now.”
The Raiders are 19-3 and responsible for one of the Mounties’ losses, a 3-2 overtime decision at Sport-O-Rama on Jan. 31.
“Playing them the first time and losing, we’ve got a chip on our shoulder to get back against them,” Tiso said.
“There’s always pressure on us. We’ve had so much success in the past. But we know what we have to do, and we’re going to get it done.”
White Plains finished 15-6-1, with two losses to Suffern.
“It hurts,” Tigers coach Howie Rubenstein said. “It’s frustrating. … But they’re the second-best team in the state, so there’s no shame in that loss.”
It was a 1-1 game when Patrick Callinan wound up at the left point and beat Stangarone for the lead 4:59 into the second, his first varsity goal.
Then Tiso scored from the right doorstep on a power play 2:04 into the third. It became important when Matt Conroy beat Nick Modica with 1:52 left to make it a one-goal game again.
“Once we got that power play, we said that we had to capitalize on this chance,” Tiso said.
Back in the first, Chris Medeot gave White Plains a 1-0 lead just 2:33 in. But Mike Redgate tied it short-handed with 2:09 left in the period. Stangarone made 12 saves in the first 15 minutes.
“He’s been outstanding,” Tiso said. “He kept them in the whole entire game.”