Rye Hockey’s biggest rival is Pelham, to whom they lost 5-3 in last year’s Section 1 championship, so there was a lot of buildup to the game at Playland on February 11.
By Melanie Cane
Rye Hockey’s biggest rival is Pelham, to whom they lost 5-3 in last year’s Section 1 championship, so there was a lot of buildup to the game at Playland on February 11. There was added interest because it was also Hockey Fights Cancer Night, with all the proceeds from admission, T-shirt sales, Chuck-A-Puck, and an eBay auction of a 2015 NHL All-Star jersey.
Unfortunately, the Garnets lost 4-1. Fortunately, the game raised over $4,000 for Sloan Kettering.
Before the game, Karen Bresolin, team manager and mother of junior forward Theo Bresolin, spoke about the prevalence of cancer and her survival. Her speech put the game into perspective and the Garnets, who have had several fundraising events for various causes this season, are winners in the “giving back department”, regardless of the final score.
The Garnets came onto the ice playing hard and controlling possession, but four minutes into the first period the Pelicans opened the scoring on a rebound off a blocked shot.
Rye kept up the heat, but a minute or so later, Pelham took a 2-0 lead, stealing the Garnets’ thunder. Rye shut them down for the rest of the period, but were “a bit deflated and had a tough time coming back, especially after the second one,” said Coach Peter Thomas. Rye finished out the period unable to score, despite playing well and getting chances.
Rye had many opportunities early in the second period, when due to a string of Pelham penalties, Rye attacked the goal on 5-4 and 5-3 power plays. The Garnets swarmed, but Pelham’s goalie was spectacular blocking shots for a solid minute. The play was so frenetic that the goal was knocked off its posts.
“We had a lot of really good looks on the power play, but their goalie stood on his head to protect his goal,” said Coach Thomas. “Coming away without scoring was more than a little frustrating.” Even more frustrating was the Pelicans’ next goal, which came shortly after the power plays, increasing Pelham’s lead to 3-0.
Bresolin got Rye on the board with 5:27 to go in the second. He followed up on a blast by Will Hynson, tipping the puck through the goalie’s legs. The Garnets continued to apply pressure for the rest of the period, but they could not find the back of the net.
Rye tried to come back in the third, but the Pelicans’ defense proved to be impenetrable. For emphasis, Pelham tacked on a fourth goal in the final minutes of the game.
Pelham’s goalie finished with 22 saves and Rye’s goalie, Nat Deen, had 26.
Bresolin thought it was a high intensity game with a playoff feel to it. “We played well against a strong team, but we just wish we had a little more puck luck to finish our shots.” Coach Thomas agreed. “I felt that we dominated play at a bunch of times during the game, including the 5 on 3 power play. It was a much closer game than the 4-1 score would indicate. We know that we can play with them and the team is hoping to get another opportunity to play them in the playoffs.”
The Garnets had puck luck in abundance the following night in their 8-2 victory over Monroe-Woodbury. Bresolin had two goals and three assists, Tommy O’Brien added two goals and two assists, and Rocco Macri had two goals. Coach Thomas attributed that win to “adjusting their systems a bit, playing really strong hockey, and being pumped up for Senior Night.” There are five seniors on the team.
The Garnets finished the regular season with a 9-11 record. Playoffs begin February 23.