By Mike Dougherty
RYE – The adrenaline continued to surge a good 15 minutes after Mitchell Milbauer left the ice.
It happens when a longtime rivalry overheats.
Rye Town/Harrison executed perfectly on Monday, opening the Section 1 playoffs with a resounding 5-2 win over Rye in a Division II showdown at Playland Ice Casino. The biggest win of the season was eclipsed by a skirmish in the final seconds.
A total of seven players were disqualified.
“It’s a huge rivalry to begin with,” Milbauer said. “Tensions were high from the beginning. Plus, our coach from last year, Peter Thomas, is now coaching them, and Rye wouldn’t put us on the schedule this season. This matchup, God gave us a gift.”
The fourth-seeded Titans (13-6-1) were revved up long before the puck dropped.
Sam Adler got RTH on top six minutes in. The Garnets (9-12) were simply getting outhustled and outworked, but they did eventually settle in. Joe Juliano made it 2-0 in the opening minutes of the second period off a nice pass from Milbauer.
The home crowd was making a lot of noise.
“It was a great start,” Titans coach Jason Head said. “They’ve really bought into our systems down the stretch. Even with a loss to New Rochelle and a loss to Pelham, I’d say we’ve been playing our best hockey in the last few weeks.”
Jackson Schultz increased the leat for Rye Town/Harrison, but Theo Bresolin stopped the run in the final minute of the second, and Rye left down 3-1. A power-play goal from Jake Carnavalla put the Garnets in dire straits with 10:42 remaining. Rocco Macri narrowed the deficit to 4-2 with 6:46 to go, but Milbauer scored a short-handed empty-netter to seal the win.
Rye instigated the scuffle with 2.4 seconds left.
Officials disqualified the Garnets’ Billy Haynes, Aidan Lavelle, Pat Curran and Derek Mullane after sorting everything out. The Titans only had three skaters on the ice and lost Max Picker, Schultz and Juliano, who cannot play on Wednesday in a 6 p.m. quarterfinal against Pearl River. The referees let time expire without putting the puck into play.
There was no postgame handshake.
“It’s tough when you only have three guys on the ice like that,” said Titans goalie Joey Livornese, who made 24 saves. “You want to protect your teammates, but you want to stay in the game, too. We’ll have to come out flying on Wednesday and hopefully give the guys who are sitting out a chance to play again.”
Best of the rest:Kevin McGee and Max Murphy each had three goals for No. 5 Pearl River in an 8-3 win over No. 12 Somers/North Salem. … Nat Heintz netted a hat trick for No. 6 Pelham in a 13-1 win over No. 11 Brewster. … Ryan Smedley lifted No. 7 Mount Pleasant to a 4-3 win over No. 10 Greeley when he scored in triple overtime. … Peter Miley scored twice for No. 3 Yorktown in a 5-4 win over No. 14 John Jay. … Tyler Schunk got the first three goals of the game for No. 8 Hen Hud in a 5-1 win over No. 9 Carmel.