By Mike Dougherty
MOUNT VERNON – Kenny McLean latched on to a loose puck, jumped to warp speed, popped right back up without losing control after getting tripped and scored.
There was a little extra incentive.
“I’ve been on this team for the last five years, so this finally being my Senior Night, it gave me a little extra push,” McLean said.
He scored four highlight-worthy goals in all on Tuesday at the Ice Hutch, the last coming with two minutes remaining to give New Rochelle a 5-4 win over Rivertown.
“You can’t play him with one guy,” Legends coach Howie Weiner said. “You have to hope the first guy slows him down and the second and third stop him. … And when you take the middle away, he just goes outside and roofs it.”
The win keeps New Rochelle in contention for the League III-C title, which is a little surprising.
McLean is the only senior on the roster. Massimo Miceli is the only junior. They are setting the pace for the 15 underclassmen, who might be just tall enough to get on the Dragon Coaster if they showed up at Playland with skates on.
The Huguenots (8-9) are looking into scheduling a makeup game with Mount Pleasant, and would need to win in order be co-champs with Rye/Town Harrison.
“Kenny is the kid everyone should want to be,” New Rochelle coach C.J. Tozzo said. “The way he competes, the effort he gives, the leadership he provides, it shows the other kids on this team what it takes. We’ve seen if for the last five years, Kenny has some really special qualities.”
He skates hard, so the younger players skate hard.
McLean scored a pair of unassisted goals in the first period to get New Rochelle headed in the right direction 24 hours after the Huguenots were humbled by a struggling ETBE team. Kevin Kern got Rivertown on the board when he skated in clean with a turnover.
A goal by Miceli sent the Huguenots into the intermission with a 3-1 lead.
Liam Sullivan rattled a shot off the post and in early in the second to get the Legends (6-12-2) closer, but McLean scored a short-handed goal to make it 4-2. Eric Mendelson scored to increase the intensity, and Tommy Farrell made it 4-4 with a power play goal to start the third period.
It was deadlocked until McLean, who plays a good portion of each game as a defenseman, was forced outside in the final minutes and quickly created enough space to get a shot off.
The puck sailed into the far corner.
“Rivertown was taking away the middle,” McLean said. “They gave me room along the wall, and they gave me room to shoot. I just took advantage of it.”