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MONSEY, N.Y. – There’s a general consensus that Suffern is the best team in Rockland. The Mounties won last year's Section 1 Division 1 title and are again the favorite to repeat this season.
But beyond Suffern, there were many questions as to who was next in line. Was it Pearl River, with their impressive 11-1 record, or Clarkstown, who had played one of the toughest schedules in Section 1?
Clarkstown answered the question on Saturday night, defeating the Pirates, 4-2, in an all-around impressive performance. Clarkstown (6-6) outshot Pearl River (11-1) 27-19 and controlled the puck for most of the game. They also owned the second period, outscoring the Pirates 3-0.
“(Pearl River) had a lot of hype coming into this game,” said Clarkstown coach Andrew Trust. “We read the rankings, we saw the talk. They were 11-1, we were 5-6, but our six losses had come against some of the top teams in the section. Our guys heard it and they wanted to come in and prove that even though we played a tough schedule, we’re the second best team in Rockland.”
Clarkstown captain Mitch LeSueur agreed with his coach.
“We felt that, even though (Pearl River) had a better record, our schedule was tougher and we were the better team,” LeSueur said. “They have a very strong first line and we knew we’d have to shut them down. We wore them out and were able to get the goals we needed.”
LeSueur was the player of the game, scoring two goals and adding an assist. Both of his goals came during Clarkstown’s big second period and both came off of assists from sophomore Mike Gillespie.
“Mitch is a true leader; he exemplifies leadership,” Trust said. “He is the first guy to get the guys out to warm up, he’s respectful on the bench and he’s a good person. He’s just great.”
Clarkstown junior Mike Taussi opened the game with a goal just 2:13 into the first period and senior captain Jake Dickson scored Clarkstown’s other goal in the second period.
Freshman goalie Jonathan Chin had 17 saves.
“This is a great win,” Chin said. “It’s a real booster for us after losing two close games to ETB and Mamaroneck. We’re really hoping to build off of this.”
Pearl River bounced back after giving up the early goal when sophomore Patrick Burns tied the game off of a great pass from freshman forward Connor Ocascal with 1:40 remaining in the quarter.
However, the Pirates couldn’t sustain the effort in the second and the lead grew to three goals. Senior forward Michael Henry pulled the lead back down to two goals in the third period, but it was too late.
“I think we just got overmatched at times in our own zone,” said Pearl River coach Tony Capone. “We got away from our game a little bit. We hung with them though, so we’ll put it behind us and move forward; see if we can start a new streak.”
GAME NOTES: Pearl River goalie Liam McArdle had a great game in goal despite the loss. The senior recorded 23 saves and kept Clarkstown from extending the lead on multiple opportunities.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Second-period Domination: Clarkstown outscored Pearl River 3-0 in the second period and outshot them 13-7.
2. Attack: Clarkstown continually attacked the Pearl River defense by applying heavy pressure on the fore-check.
3. Physical play: This was one of the most physical games of the season so far and both teams held their own.
Clarkstown: 1 3 0 4
Pearl River: 1 0 1 2
CLK (2:13) Mike Taussi from Mitch LeSueur and Jake Dickson | 1-0 CLK
PR (13:20) Patrick Burns from Connor Ocasal | 1-1
CLK (4:43) Jake Dixon from Austin Vander Linden and Adam Myers | 2-1 CLK
CLK (5:49) LeSueur from Mike Gillespie | 3-1 CLK
CLK (13:00) LeSueur from Gillespie and Taussi 4-1 CLK
PR (8:14) Mike Henry from Connor McMorrow and Chris Alexander 4-2 CLK
Clarkstown: LeSueur (2 G, 1 A), Taussi (1 G, 1 A), Gillespie (2 A)
Pearl River: Henry (1 G), Burns (1 G)
Clarkstown: Jonathan Chin (17 saves)
Pearl River: Liam McArdle (23 saves)
Clarkstown: 6 13 8 27
Pearl River: 3 7 9 19