By Rick Carpiniello
MOUNT VERNON – The good teams always expect better. So after an 8-2 win over Somers/North Salem in the Section 1 Division 2 semifinals Friday night, Pelham wasn’t patting itself on the collective back.
“Personally I didn’t think we played to our capability,” Pelham’s Andrew Schauer said after scoring three goals and an assist in the victory. “We played well enough to win, but we have to play a lot better to win another sectional championship, which would be the third one for (this) team.”
It would also be the seventh since 2000 for the 18-3-1 Pelicans, who face long, long-time rival Rye in the championship game Sunday, 4:30 p.m. at Brewster Ice Arena.
“We played well enough to win,” Pelham coach Ed Witz said. “I thought we were a little vulnerable (early on). If a couple of those go in, it’s a different game. Our offense has never been an issue, but we have to tighten it up defensively.
“I think Sunday will be a little different because the skill level will be closer. Then it becomes who makes the mistakes. If we make mistakes and they connect it could be trouble. It’s always a barn-burner game with Rye, always a back-yard battle. … It’s always a pick-‘em game. I’m sure Sunday will be the same.”
In what became a very feisty, and not very disciplined game, the Pelicans were off to a fast start, but had nothing to show for it because of SNS goalie Aiden Quaglino, who faced 42 shots and was fabulous during an early Pelham power play and after.
It appeared, though, that the Sabers had broken through on a shot by Noah Hale that was waved off because the net had come off its moorings.
Pelham finally got the lead on a late first-period power play, Hogan Peters taking a pass from Will Cullen and beating Quaglino with a shot that may have changed direction with 1:34 left.
The second period was a parade of penalties, and the Pelicans piled it on during all situations.
Just 1:24 into the period, Cullen stole the puck at center ice and moved in for beaut of a short-handed goal, toe-dragging around a defenseman and beating Quaglino with a shot off the right post and in.
With 4:46 left in the second, a neat passing play resulted in a goal by freshman Ben Hurd, who buried Peters’ pass.
Then, with 1:53 remaining in the period, during a 4-on-4, Schauer moved up right wing and fired a wrister to the far side past Quaglino to make it 4-0.
Schauder added a pair in the third, Cullen scored another, and freshman Nat Heintz scored his first career goal. In between, Somers broke Matt DeYoung’s shutout bid with power-play goals by R.J. LaSpina and Kyle Handszer.
“We just kept grinding and I thought we wore them down,” said Cullen, who had two goals and two assists. “This is really big for us. This was our goal the entire year.
“This is definitely how we want to go into the game on Sunday.”