By Mike Dougherty
WEST NYACK – A couple of games ago, Tim Patwell and Michael Ruthberg were on the other side of the glass wishing and hoping they’d be healthy for the playoffs.
They are back on the ice now, scoring.
Patwell and Ruthberg played the starring roles on Tuesday, leading Suffern to a 2-1 win over Clarkstown in a Division I semifinal. They were in the right place at the right time. Patwell got a stick on the game’s first goal and Ruthberg netted the winner, putting the Mounties in play for another Section 1 title.
This group doesn’t usually have to win a road game to get into the championship.
“It’s different,” Suffern co-captain Michael Redgate said. “We’ve been through so much this season already. This was just one more thing we had to deal with. I told everyone in the locker room, it was the best team win of the season.”
The Mounties (16-4-2) are getting a rematch with reigning champ Scarsdale.
It was a playoff atmosphere.
There was plenty of room at the Palisades Ice Center with a late afternoon start helping to keep the numbers in check.
Patwell, who suffered a wrist injury three weeks ago, was parked on the doorstep when Troy Daniels wound up from the point and let fly. He got a stick on the puck, giving third-seeded Suffern a 1-0 lead with six minutes into the first period.
The celebration was more lively than usual.
“Reed Stark made a nice play, getting the puck out to Troy,” Patwell said. “I was in front and the defender lost his stick so I was able to get loose and get a stick on it. To get the jump on them in their rink was huge for us.”
Second-seeded Clarkstown (16-5-1) got even a minute into the second period. Adam Marvin rushed in and swatted the puck past Sean Gordon, drawing a roar from the home crowd. It stayed that way until the Mounties drew a penalty five minutes into the third period.
Justin Tiso got a step on Clarkstown and left the puck in front. C.J. Greco missed, but Ruthberg was there for the cleanup.
The final minutes were controversial.
A tripping penalty against Marvin turned into a double minor when he disputed the call, resulting in Suffern running out the last three minutes on the power play.
“We played well,” Clarkstown coach Rich Willows said. “We played really well. We kept everything to the outside. We attacked them. We outshot them. It’s hard to beat a team when you get six penalties to their one. And they didn’t have just one penalty. I’m tired of (Suffern getting help from the referees). It’s frustrating when you kids play their hearts out.”
Scarsdale 3, White Plains 0: In a Division I semifinal at the Ice Hutch, James Nicholas scored a power-play goal in the opening minute of the second period to get the top-seeded Raiders in front. The assist came from Stephen Nicholas. The Tigers were a stubborn out. Chris Stangerone made 37 saves to give fourth-seeded White Plains a chance. Stephen Nicholas locked the Raiders into a championship-game rematch with Suffern when he scored an empty-net goal with 22 seconds to play. “They play great defense and Chris is the best goalie in the state,” James Nicholas said. “Getting back to the final means the world to this group. We won the section last year and we’re looking to improve on that. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”