BREWSTER – There has to be a better word.
John Jay is not rebuilding. The program is only two years removed from a historic season that included a Section 1 title. Call it a transition. All but a handful of players on the roster were in middle school when the Indians made headlines in the 2012-13 season, and they are growing up fast.
“We’ve had to take our lumps but we’re looking forward,” John Jay coach Alex Smith said.
There was reason to celebrate again Sunday at Brewster Ice Arena when Ryan Cavanagh scored with 1:11 to play, lifting the Indians to a 6-5 win over Brewster. It was another baby step in the right direction for a group that includes 17 underclassmen.
“It’s huge for us,” junior forward Lucas Prestamo said. “Right from the start, everyone was going hard. Everyone battled. Nobody gave up.”
There was plenty of back and forth.
Nick Filannino and Charlie Hastings had John Jay (3-6-1) in front 2-0 just three minutes into the game. A breakaway goal from Antonio Barone got the Bears (7-3-1) on the board.
J.T. Goodliffe knotted the score with a short-handed goal, and Kevin Moroney got Brewster in front 3-2 with 1:48 to go in the second. Sean Blaney ended the run a minute later.
Sean DeGaray had the Bears on top again in the opening minute of the third but Ellis Maloof poked in a rebound to make it 4-4. Prestamo gave the Indians a lead with 11:56 to go.
Both teams had issues on defense.
“Sean Blaney was working hard in the corner,” Prestamo said. “He won the battle on the boards, got the puck to Ryan Cavanagh, and he made an awesome pass over to me. I didn’t even think about it. I just wanted to get the puck on net.”
A nifty flip by Kyle Dineen made it 5-5 with 1:58 to go but Prestamo got loose with the puck and set up Cavanagh with 1:11 to play.
It was an emotional dagger.
“Lucas made a great play with the puck,” said Cavanagh, a sophomore forward. “He went through everyone in the neutral zone, basically, and got it down low. He sent a no-look pass over to me. I had like half the net open, so I just put it in.”
There was one more furious rally at the other end, but John Jay goalie Jason Styles did not yield.