By Mike Dougherty
UTICA – There was more than a measure of reluctance as Devon Schell pulled off the sweater and packed it away.
Each of the seniors in the locker room silently struggled with the simple task.
For the second year in a row, Scarsdale failed to advance past the semifinal round of the NYSPHSAA Division I tournament. The Raiders struggled to match the speed and physicality of an imposing McQuaid Jesuit team, falling 4-2 on Saturday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The end of a memorable run is always abrupt.
“It was the most disappointing thing I’ve ever done,” Schell said of the postgame routine. “Four years with this team, and the 10 seniors, those guys are my best friends. To know that I’ll never play with some of them again, it’s an awful feeling.”
The Raiders enjoyed a run of unprecedented success.
“I held (my sweater) in my hands for a couple of seconds,” James Nicholas said. “Everybody is going to say, ‘Good career,’ or whatever, but nothing really happened outside the two sectional titles. … We’re better than that. … It’s kind of a letdown.”
There was great optimism early on.
Nicholas cranked a shot wide six minutes into the game and the puck ricocheted off the boards in back of the net. Brandon Bank moved it along and set up Duncan Hindmarch on the post.
Scarsdale (23-2) was on the board first, and the student section erupted.
“It was kind of a lucky bounce, but it got us going,” Hindmarch said.
Stephen Nicholas got fancy with the puck in the final minute of the period, deking a defenseman and fooling the goalie for the prettiest goal of his career to make it a 2-0 edge.
And then everything came apart.
“You can’t do much better than going up 2-0, but when you stop playing, it ends up 4-2,” Raiders coach Jim Mancuso said. “We stopped moving our feet. We stopped playing defensive hockey. … We let them shoot. We watched them shoot. … The shot differential, it was 33-21. You can’t ask a goalie to do more than Gabe (Harousseau) did for us. … They were very physical. They hit everything they could. And when you’re not moving it makes it easier for them to hit you.”
Ryan Talty got the Knights’ comeback started when he was left alone outside the crease for a power-play goal five minutes into the second. Max Paroda knotted the score late in the period. Mike Campbell gave McQuaid (21-2) the lead two minutes into the third, and Jack Dugan finished the scoring with five minutes to go in the period.
It’s not like Scarsdale didn’t have chances.
The Raiders were constantly drawing whistles, but went just 1 for 10 on the power play.
“We’re going to decline the penalty next time because our power play was terrible,” Mancuso said.
A late 5-on-3 chance didn’t even yield a threat.
“Going against a team that hits wasn’t new to us, but they were a new level,” Schell said. “They were bigger than the rest that we’ve played so it was tough.”