By Mike Dougherty
BREWSTER — It’s pretty clear John Jay isn’t ready to go home.
The list of concerns grew over the final weeks of the regular season and the Indians seemed a likely upset victim until they dialed up the intensity and the execution Wednesday in a 5-2 statement win over Rye Town/Harrison in a Section 1 Division 2 quarterfinal at Brewster Ice Arena.
“We feel like we’re back,” junior defenseman Mark Leprine said.
And just in the nick of time.
“The captains told me there was a lot of chatter off the ice over the last 24 hours about how we want this season to end,” John Jay coach Alex Smith said. “I think they took it upon themselves to get ready to go for this one.”
Next up for the third-seeded Indians is a showdown against Rye in the semifinals at 6 p.m. on Friday at Brewster Ice Arena.
The programs are becoming very familiar with each other. John Jay won 5-1 last year when they met in the Section 1 championship game. The Garnets prevailed by a 5-4 margin last week.
“We’re back to the starting point, where we were at the beginning of the season when we were strong,” Leprine added. “It’s a great momentum builder. There was definitely concern, but I think we played as hard as we could tonight.”
The end result was a 2-0 lead after one period.
All of the urgency translated into a 16-2 advantage in shots on goal for the Indians, and John Tobin got them on the board when he saw an opening and got the puck by Titans goalie Brian Ketchabaw with 7:49 to go.
The goal only fueled more shots.
“I picked up a loose puck and saw the opening,” Tobin said. “Ketchabaw’s a nice goalie, but it happened to go in. … We just wanted to get shots on net the entire time. The more open shots you get, the more likely you are to score. We got a lot of shots.”
Shawn Smith made it a 2-0 lead with 3:04 to go in the first.
The Indians were quick to the puck all night long and simply refused to let No. 6 Rye Town/Harrison get organized in the neutral zone.
“It’s not so much what they were doing,” Titans coach Peter Thomas said. “We broke down a lot of tape and they did everything we expected them to do. We didn’t execute. … I think we got caught up in the importance of the game. And when John Jay got those two, we knew it was going to be an uphill battle for us.”
Leprine and Tobin gave the Indians a 4-0 cushion after two. Ryan Morningstar got Rye Town/Harrison on the board when he pushed in a rebound with 7:49 left in the game. Ryan Cavanaugh answered for John Jay and Mitchell Milbauer got one more for the Titans before it was over.