By Mike Dougherty
RYE – The season isn’t over yet.
After taking a deep breath and moving past the nonsense that overshadowed a first-round win, Rye Town/Harrison outplayed Pearl River, posting a 4-2 win on Wednesday in a Section 1 Division II quarterfinal at Playland Ice Casino.
“We knew everyone had to pull together,” senior defenseman Sam Chalfin said. “We played them earlier in the season and took a tough loss, so we really wanted revenge, and we definitely got what we wanted.”The Titans are moving on to the semifinals and will be welcoming Hen Hud on Friday.
With three regulars home serving undisclosed suspensions for their part in a game-ending skirmish with Rye on Monday, RTH was forced to scramble the lineups. The opening minutes were not pretty, but they were played with emotion.
And getting the first goal of the game only provided more inspiration.
Doug Harrison got deep with the puck after the Pirates got careless with a clear. He squeezed a shot past goalie Sam Coughlin with 12:29 to go in the first. Harrison celebrated like he just clinched a prom date with a super model.
It woke up the Pirates.
“That was like a desperation shot,” Harrison said. “I saw the goalie was a little off the post and I saw an opening under his glove, so I figured I might as well go for it.”
It raised the level of belief exponentially.
“That was huge,” Chalfin said “It got the boys riled up and jolted us into the game.”
Pearl River responded when Kevin Murphy made a beautiful cross to Max McGee, who knotted the score with 11:05 to go in the period, forcing No. 4 Rye Town/Harrison (14-6-1) to answer.
Clay Korpi got the lead back with a wrister a couple of shifts later, and Chalfin made it a 3-1 advantage when he stole the puck at the blue line and scored with 5:01 to play in the first.
“Settling them down after Monday was a big task,” Titans coach Jason Head said. “We had a team meeting on Tuesday and talked about everything and decided to move past it. I’m very proud of the way these kids handled themselves.”
The fifth-seeded Pirates (11-8) needed a spark.
Murphy provided it when he unveiled some sick moves on the doorstep and scored a short-handed goal to make it 3-2 with 6:10 to go in the second. The momentum was shifting. RTH kept working and began to create more scoring chances at the other end. Ike Murov picked up a rebound and scored the final goal of the game on a lunging shot with 2:01 to go in the period.
Rye Town/Harrison goalie Joey Livornese finished with 27 saves. The Titans will have Max Picker and Jackson Schultz back on Friday, but they would have to win three more to get Joe Juliano back in uniform.
Best of the rest: Michael Ciofalo made 45 saves for No. 8 Hen Hud in a 3-1 win over No. 1 Pawling. Vinny Perez broke a 1-1 tie with 5:39 to play, landing the Sailors in their first ever Section 1 semifinal. … Will Kirk had a goal and two assists for No. 2 Mamaroneck in a 4-2 win over No. 7 Mount Pleasant. … Lucas Gabow scored twice in the first period for No. 6 Pelham in a 7-1 win over No. 3 Yorktown.