Declan Lavelle scored three goals in the Garnets 4-2 win against Pelham.
RHS Boys’ Hockey
Hat Trick Powers Big Win Over Pelham
At the start of each season as the Rye High Boys’ Hockey team looks at the schedule, one game always stands out as special, the Pelham game. And too often in recent history, Rye has fallen short in this rivalry game, winning only once in the past ten years.
This was most dramatically true in the sectional semifinal game last year, when Pelham scored two power play goals in the last 26 seconds to win. The outcome could only be described as devastating for a Rye team which seemed to be peaking at just the right time. Coach Peter Thomas described it at the time as “probably the toughest loss I’ve ever been a part of.”
For the players returning from last year, it was with a bitter after-taste and a thirst for revenge that they approached this season’s game. And for the players who are new to the team this year, many of whom were watching from the stands last year, there was an understanding that this was the most important regular season game of the year.
Pelham was the third sectional top-10 opponent the Garnets would face in a single week. On January 15, Rye edged sixth-ranked Horace Greeley 4-3.
Two days later, Rye travelled to No. 1 ranked Suffern and lost 8-0. On January 21, Rye went on the road again, to face No. 4 ranked Pelham.
The stands at Mount Vernon’s Ice Hutch were packed largely with Pelham fans who weren’t shy about making their presence known. It was loud when the puck dropped at the start of the first period. But Rye quieted the crowd within the first five minutes as Declan Lavelle scored his first of three goals, crashing the net to tap in a rebound off a Reece Dorfman shot.
Later in the first period, Rye scored again with a sweet display of puck movement. Brendan O’Byrne skated the puck into the zone then made a terrific drop pass to Cal McLoughlin who then fired it to Liam Hurley who was lurking at the far post and beat the Pelham goalie with a nice wrister. At the end of the first, Rye was up 2-0.
Rye would expand that lead early in the second period when Lavelle scored his second goal on assists from Hurley and Carter Barford. Rye was rolling, but after last season’s stunning defeat none of the Rye fans were counting any chickens.
And sure enough, things tightened a bit when the Pelicans scored a power play goal to make it 3-1 in the middle of the second. Shortly after that, Pelham hit the post on a shot that would have made it 3-2 had it gone in. Rye players knew they would need to dig deep at this point to hold the lead and seal the upset.
Rye stole the momentum back when McLoughlin made a laser-perfect pass to Lavelle, who sealed his hat trick with a blazing snapshot that beat the Pelham goalie high on the glove side. Rye now led 4-1 and would hold that lead, winning by a final 4-2.
Sophomore goalie Annabelle Thomas finished with an amazing 25 saves, many big ones at critical moments that preserved Rye’s momentum. It’s worth noting that the second Pelham goal was scored on a penalty shot awarded questionably in the third period after a pile up in the Rye crease. Otherwise, she was virtually unbeatable.
This was an enormously meaningful win for this young Garnets squad. The team has only four seniors: Lavelle, Sasha Vasyuta, Emmett Carroll, and Graham Ross. “We have a very young team this year with 12 first-year varsity players,” noted coach Thomas, “but they are learning on the job and starting to understand the style of hockey we want to play.”
Beating Pelham is its own reward, but it also bodes well for the rest of this season and beyond and the Garnets’ chances of earning a spot in the Sectional top 10 as they head into the playoffs in February.
- <Rye Record staff>