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RYE, N.Y. — The seeding implications surrounding Wednesday's John Jay-CR vs. Rye hockey game were impossible to ignore.
But Garnets coach Jason Friesen somehow managed to block it all out, bringing a classic Al Davis motto with him to Playland Ice Casino: “Just win, baby.”
Instead, Rye was forced to settle for a 3-3 tie after the teams played a scoreless five-minute sudden-death overtime period.
In an odd twist, the result might have benefitted the Garnets (13-5-2) more than it hurt. They will now likely end up with a No. 4 seed in the Section 1 Division 2 playoffs and, more importantly, dodge defending champ and No. 2-seeded Pelham until a potential championship game showdown. John Jay-CR (14-5-1), meanwhile, will likely end up with a No. 3 seed and is aligned to face the powerhouse Pelicans in the semifinals.
Of course, this was of little consolation to Friesen following his team's spotty offensive performance.
“We are just about winning hockey games,” Friesen said. “We want to get feeling as good as possible about our game heading into the playoffs. It doesn't matter when we have to go through (Pelham), because we will have to go through them at some point. Whether it be early or late we still have to face them. There's no sense in worrying about what side of the draw you are on. You just play the games you have to play. If you play well, you should be able to win and move on.”
For the Garnets, consistency has been tough to find in 2011-12. After starting out the year undefeated at 9-0-1, they have limped to the finish line with a record of 4-5-1 over their final nine games of the regular season.
Against the Indians, a familiar problem reared its ugly head: finishing. Rye — which outshot John Jay-CR 48-31 overall — left at least a half-dozen golden opportunities on the ice.
“Finishing was a problem tonight,” Friesen said. “We didn't finish at all tonight and we had a lot of good opportunities.”
Garnets forward Kirk Kolmes was the exception. The senior forward netted a game-high two goals, including the equalizer with 2:52 left in regulation.
“(Holmes) came in, stepped up and had a really nice game on what was Senior Night for him,” Friesen said. “He was driven and had the desire. He finished and got us a tie.”
Despite having a spectacular game with a season-high 45 saves, John Jay-CR goalie Matt Lanza was still annoyed he let Holmes' game-tying goal sneak in.
“(Holmes) was coming around and I slid over, but he snuck it right past my blocker,” Lanza said. “I should have had it.”
Regardless, Lanza's teammates were impressed with his effort.
“Our goalie, Matt, played very well tonight,” Junior forward Jack Grimm said.
Grimm also turned in a quality effort, scoring a mammoth shorthanded goal on a breakaway at the 5:52 mark of the second period to even the game at 2-2. It cooled off a resurgent Rye squad, which got back-to-back goals from Cal Hynson and Holmes to grab a 2-1 lead less than five minutes into the second period.
“I normally don't play the penalty kill, so it was unexpected,” Grimm said, detailing the shorthanded goal. “I lost the faceoff and skated up toward the defenseman, blocked the shot and it went off the boards and then went down into Rye's zone.”
According to Friesen, Grimm single-handedly shifted the balance of the game in John Jay-CR's favor.
“It took a lot of air out of us,” Friesen said. “It was unfortunate one of those things that turn things around. Then you are fighting uphill again.”
The Indians harnessed the momentum and took a 3-2 lead with 2:11 left in the second. Dan Killea provided the go-ahead score off an assist from Thomas Blaney.
While Rye eventually snuck back to salvage a tie, it was still an impressive performance by John Jay-CR. After all, not too many teams north of I-287 come into Playland and give Rye a run for its money.
“Everybody says that Southern Westchester is better than we are and we wanted to prove ourselves,” Lanza said. “And I think we did.”
GAME NOTES: John Jay-CR's Jack Grimm is currently third on the team with 31 points (21G, 10A), while teammate Shawn Smith is second with 33 points (23G, 10A) … John Jay-CR leading scorer Frazier Bostwick (28G, 16A) was held without a point for just the second time all season. He had notched at least one point in his previous 12 games … Rye's Kirk Holmes (9G, 14A) is tied with teammate Chris Lipari for fourth on the team in scoring.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Rye struggles to finish: The Garnets spoiled five prime scoring chances in the first period alone. They just seemed to be a step behind in getting to rebounds. Rye's offense has been feast or famine over the second half of the season, evidenced by the Garnets putting up seven goals in a shutout win over Ogdensburg this past weekend. “You hope to get it out of your system now,” coach Friesen said. “We seem to be one game kind of on and one off. This past weekend we were on with stuff like that where we were sweeping up rebounds and putting them in the net. Tonight, we just couldn’t get enough of those.”
2. Lanza stars in net: John Jay-CR goalie Matt Lanza didn't really make it look pretty, but it's not like they award style points in hockey. The sophomore netminder used every square inch of his flailing body to help stave off Rye's attack, making a number of game-saving stops right on the doorstep.
3. Grimm's goal changes the game: For someone who admittedly doesn't usually participate on the penalty kill, John Jay-CR's Jack Grimm sure looked like a natural. His shorthanded second-period goal — which evened the game at 2-2 — completely changed the complexion of the game. The previously surging Garnets were stunned and kind of went into a shell the rest of the period. John Jay — riding the wave of momentum — then added the go-ahead late to take a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
John Jay-CR 1 2 0 0 3
Rye 0 2 1 0 3
JJCR (8:34) Shawn Sullivan from Mark Leprine | 1-0 JJCR
RYE (11:30) Cal Hynson from Ryan Rogers | 1-1
RYE (10:17) Kirk Holmes from Danny Sullivan and Rogers | 2-1 RYE
JJCR (5:52) Jack Grimm unassisted | 2-2 **
JJCR (2:11) Dan Killea from Thomas Blaney | 3-2 JJCR
RYE (2:53) Holmes unassisted | 3-3
** Indicates shorthanded goal
John Jay-CR: Shawn Sullivan (1G); Dan Killea (1G); Jack Grimm (1G); Mark Leprine (1A); Thomas Blaney (1A)
Rye: Kirk Holmes (2G); Ryan Rogers (2A); Cal Hynson (1G); Danny Sullivan (1A)
John Jay-CR: Matt Lanza (45 saves)
Rye: Aidan Talgo (28 saves)
John Jay-CR 8 13 8 2 31
Rye 14 13 15 5 48
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass