By Mike Dougherty
MONSEY – Nobody could recall the last time Pearl River won a game without getting a single goal from senior co-stars Kevin Murphy or Max McGee.
It’s likely been a couple of years.
“Honestly, I don’t remember the last time that might’ve happened,” McGee said after the Pirates defeated North Rockland 3-2 on Sunday at Sport-O-Rama. “But it shows the younger players on this team are starting to step up for us.”
Michael Galgano, a sophomore, got Pearl River in front when he redirected a shot from the wing into the net with 6:56 to go in the first period.
The Red Raiders upped the intensity and knotted the score 1-1 in the opening minutes of the second when James Morina pounced on a turnover near the blue line and beat goalie Sam Coughlin 1-on-1 with a nifty backhand move.
North Rockland (5-7) maintained intense pressure from that point on. Pearl River defensemen Brian Caffrey, Owen McGee, Thomas Stapleton and Liam Wynne spent the final 10 minutes of the period scrambling. Coughlin had to come up with some timely stops, and the forwards were all pitching in.
“That was huge,” Pirates coach Brian Del Savio said. “We have two experienced defensemen and two young players who have come up and filled in. We’re finding a way to play team defense, and it seems to be working because we’re in every game.”
Thomas Murphy, a junior, did manage to break out and get the puck deep. He flipped the puck at the net on the way by, hoping a teammate was crashing the net. It bounced off a Red Raiders player and traveled into the net for a 2-1 lead.
It was a complete surprise.
“The puck took a lucky bounce,” the forward said. “I didn’t even see it go in. I was just throwing it on net, hoping somebody would be there.”
Tyler Connelly threw a shot in through heavy traffic four minutes into the third, making it 2-2. Both teams pushed, looking to avoid overtime, and Pearl River (6-3) got Thomas Murphy set up on the post with 1:59 remaining. He redirected a shot from Stapleton, freezing North Rockland goalie Kenny Hoppe.
Another two minutes of defense let the Pirates lock down the win.
“I saw the puck coming in and stuck my skate out,” Thomas Murphy said. “We probably would’ve been dead in overtime. Kevin and Max both had a junior game this morning and they were tired, so we might’ve given one up early and lost.”