By Mike Dougherty
CLIFTON PARK – Gabe Harousseau wasn’t called upon to save the season in the final minute of play, but Scarsdale’s level-headed goalie had the most difficult job on the ice.
He was left staring down the clock at the opposite end of the rink.
The Raiders were scrambling to clear the puck down the stretch, but survived a furious rally and kept the best season in program history alive with a tense 4-3 win over Shenendehowa in a Division 1 regional final on Saturday at Clifton Park Arena.
“That last minute and a half, the front line did a good job,” said Harousseau, who made 30 saves. “I didn’t get a puck at all. It kind of took some pressure off me, but it was still kind of there because it was the last minutes of the game. … It took a while for that clock to go down. I kept looking at it and it finally went to zero.”
Next stop is The Aud in Utica for a NYSPHSAA semifinal. The opponent will be either Ithaca or Niagara-Wheatfield, who meet Sunday.
“It’s the first time in our school’s history,” Scarsdale forward Devon Schell said. “That was our goal at the start of the season, and we’re finally going.”
The Raiders (21-3) were on a blowout pace in the first period.
James Felix caught the Section 2 champions by surprise when he came upon a puck left dancing in front less than four minutes in and got Scarsdale on the board first. James Nicholas slammed the second goal in on a power play with 9:17 to go in the period, and Matt Blakley made it 3-0 a short time later when he scored from just inside the blue line.
There was no time to take a breather.
After the stunned Plainsmen (16-7-1) changed goalies and put Jordan Moffre in, they began to storm the net and were dominating the puck. Scarsdale was forced to keep the intensity up.
“Their backup goalie comes in … he’s in a big spot and doesn’t look like he’s too strong, and then he stops everything,” Raiders coach Jim Mancuso said. “He stopped Nicholas at the end on the breakaway. That was huge. Even when he wasn’t in the net, we couldn’t score.”
It was a cause for concern.
The Raiders skated a good chunk of the second with an extra man, but went 1 for 5 on the power play. Stephen Nicholas found a rebound five minutes into the period and chased in what turned out to be the deciding goal.
“Matt Blakley drove to net and put one off the goalie’s chest,” he said. “I didn’t even see the puck. At the last second, it went off my skate and I just hit it in. … At the time it was big because it gave us more momentum, and it turned out to be a huge goal.”
Peter Russo got Shenendehowa on the board with 4:44 to go in the second. Peter Sacks made it 4-2 before a deflection by Austin McDonough got the Plainsmen within one with 2:51 to play.
“We thought it was going to be a close game to the end,” James Nicholas said. “And it turned out to be.”