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MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. — Last year, Pelham went to West Point as an underdog. In 2011-12, the Pelicans will be the unquestioned favorite.
No. 2-seeded Pelham dispatched of No. 3-seeded John Jay-CR, 4-0, to advance to Sunday's Section 1 Division 2 title game at West Point's Tate Rink. The Pelicans will square off against No. 8-seeded Scarsdale.
Pelham opened the scoring 29 seconds into the opening period and never looked back on Friday night at the Ice Hutch. Sophomore defenseman Will Cullen ripped a shot from the point with little traffic in front of him to give the Pelicans a 1-0 lead.
“Dan (Shea) just came around the net and found me up top, I let it fly, and it went in,” Cullen said. “I think they deflated really quickly after that goal, and we just kept coming at them.”
The Pelicans definitely kept coming. Just three minutes later, Shea scored the first of his two goals on a great pass from Colin Reilly. Shea one-timed it and hit the back of the net and Pelham rolled from there.
“Danny is a great player and he’s doing it at a high level right now,” Cullen said. “He’s definitely one of the guys we look to for big plays like that.”
With a quick 2-0 lead, Pelham settled into its defense perfectly. The Pelicans outshot John Jay-CR 34-15 on the game and killed penalties without giving up any shots throughout the night. It was obvious that the defense and goalie Josh Borofsky (15 saves) were ready to play.
“We’re taught to play team defense, and it’s something we focus on a lot actually,” Shea, a left winger, said. “When everyone buys into getting back for defense, it makes it easier to defend as a team.”
While Borofsky faced minimal shots, he still had to handle some skilled offensive weapons from John Jay-CR in forwards Frazier Bostwick and Jack Grimm.
“John Jay is a very good team and remind me of ourselves in a lot of ways,” Pelham coach Ed Witz said. “We had them on their heels early and after the second goal it was just about keeping them off the board. I have a lot of respect for them, though. I love Bostick. He’s a tremendous player.”
Pelham added its third goal nearly 12 minutes into the second period directly off a faceoff. Reilly, who had a hand in each goal, won the faceoff clean and Shea blasted it home to give the Pelicans a 3-0 lead. The score remained that way until the third period. Reilly scored an easy wrister while shorthanded to add the final nail in the coffin.
“Our whole mentality has changed in the second half of the season,” Borofsky said. “We’re making a final push towards Utica. We really want to bring a state championship home.”
Before then, Pelham will have to face a red-hot Scarsdale squad. The Raiders have won eight of nine and came from behind to knock off No. 2-seeded Rye in the semifinal. The one loss, however, came to Pelham.
“We just need to play our team defense and we’ll be alright,” Shea said. “Everything is clicking right now. We’re going to come after it.”
GAME NOTES: Pelham returns to the Division 2 championship looking for its third title in four years, and fifth in eight years… Pelham beat Rye in the Division 2 championship last season… Colin Reilly leads Pelham in scoring with 43 points (21G, 22A), while Andrew Schauer is second with 38 points (18G, 20A) ... Pelham goalie Josh Borofsky recorded a shutout in the title game last season … John Jay-CR only graduates one player from this year's team.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Quick scoring equals easy work: After narrowly beating John Jay-CR, 5-4, earlier this season, Pelham jumped out to a quick lead and never let the Indians get into a flow offensively.
2. Now, that’s killing a penalty: In high school hockey — where the mantra “put the puck on net good things happen” is the norm — killing a penalty without giving up a shot is rare. Pelham did it twice en route to its 4-0 shutout. Overall, Pelham killed four penalties.
3. Five defenders are better than two: After the game, multiple Pelicans dicussed how important five players getting back on defense was to its success and the success going forward. If Pelham can sustain its offense and play team defense, it will be tough to top.
John Jay 0 0 0 0
Pelham 2 1 1 4
PLM (0:29) Will Cullen from Danny Shea and Colin Reilly | 1-0 PLM
PLM (3:46) Shea from Reilly and Andrew Schauer | 2-0 PLM
PLM (11:54) Shea from Reilly | 3-0 PLM
PLM (12:37) Reilly from Shea (Short-handed) | 4-0 PLM
Pelham: Danny Shea (2G, 2A), Colin Reilly (1G, 3A), Will Cullen (1G), Andrew Schauer (1A)
John Jay: Matt Lanza (30 saves)
Pelham: Josh Borofsky (15 saves)
John Jay 5 6 4 15
Pelham 13 14 7 34
Email John Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone