John Jay’s bid for a third successive Section I/Division 2 championship came to a stifling halt as second-seeded Rye shut down the Indians’ high-powered offense and came away with a 5-1 win in the title game at the Brewster Ice Arena March 1.
Jay scored 1:09 into the game when Mattie Wierl snuck a shot inside the left post ad past Rye goalie Annabelle Thomas. However, the Garnets’ aggressive forecheck took over the rest of the opening period, holding the Indians to only two more shots on goal.
“After that (Wierl’s goal), most of our shots came from the outside and when we did get something inside, their goalie stopped the puck,” Jay head coach Alex Smith said. “In a game like this, it is hard to come back and, once we fell behind in the second (period), things just didn’t go the way we wanted them to go.”
For the game, Jay had just 18 shots on Thomas.
Meanwhile, Rye patiently pushed forward, pressuring the Jay defense and goalie Nick Petrella.
A neutral zone turnover by Jay turned into the tying goal by Reece Dorfman with 1:25 left to play in the first period.
After watching the Garnets’ defensemen pinch at the blue line along the boards to keep the Indians pinned in their own zone in the first stanza, Jay began to use the middle of the ice to break out of their own end in the middle frame.
“We worked hard on how to handle their hard forecheck. We talked about how we needed to respond to it,” Smith said. “They (Rye) played a good game and I thought that they responded to things a little better than we did. I think they (Rye) were able to manage the situation better than we did.”
The result was a more evenly played period, but Rye would get the lone goal, this one coming from Sasha Vasutya off a slow developing 3-on-2 break with 8:41 to go in the stanza.
Jay came out hard in the third period, looking for the equalizer. However, though not tested often in the game, Thomas did come up with several key saves early in the final period to keep it a 2-1 game.
The backbreaker for Jay came with 8:25 left to play when Declan Lavelle banked in a shot from behind the net to increase the Garnets’ lead to 3-1.
“Anytime anything like that (bad angle goal) happens, it is almost like two goals were scored,” Smith said. ‘Hey, hats off to Rye. They really began playing better as the season went on and today, they were the better team.”
Just 1:26 later, Brendan O’Byrne capitalized on a Jay defensive zone turnover for the goal that made it 4-1.
Jay would get successive power play chances later in the period, however the Indians could not muster a consistent attack.
With Dylan Rogers pulled for an extra attacker — Rogers had relieved Petrella with 4:08 remaining to give Jay an extra time out to rest its top line — Lavelle stuck the fork in the Indians with an empty net goal with 2:37 to go.
The loss ended Jay’s season at 18-3-1.
“This is one of the hardest sections to come out of,” Smith said. “When you are the top-seed, everyone is coming after you. I wish we had played a better game today, but we didn’t.”
The win by Rye (14-8-0) avenged a 5-0 loss Jan. 8 to Jay at the Playland Ice Casino.
The Indians had advanced to the title game with a 4-1 semifinal win over fourth-seeded Horace Greeley Feb. 27 at the Brewster Ice Arena.
Wishart had a hand in all four Jay goals with two tallies and a pair of helpers, while Browne also scored twice and added one assist.
Doug Styles and Ethan Jackson also had assists in the victory.
Jay controlled play in the first period, getting goals 2:06 apart from Wishart and Browne to grab a 2-0 lead. Wishart scored with 8:16 to go in the frame, assisted by Jackson; Wishart then set up Browne with 6:10 remaining in the stanza.
“We played a strong first period limiting their chances and creating our own, a real good start,” Smith said.
Jay outshot the Quakers, 12-4, in the first period.
Greeley picked up the pace in the middle period, but Wishart made it 3-0 when he beat Quakers’ goalie Arye Wolberg with 2:10 remaining in the frame.
However, less than a minute later, Jackson was assessed a four-minute major penalty for a hit from behind. Greeley capitalized with 11 seconds left in the period with a goal by Gabe Adams.
In the final period, in addition to killing off the remaining two-plus minutes on Jackson’s penalty, Jay took three minor penalties. However, the penalty killers responded to the challenge.
Smith said, “Our penalty killers did an excellent job at crunch time and Nick Petrella made a couple of strong saves at key times.”
Browne sealed the game with an empty net goal with 1:18 remaining.
Jay outshot the Quakers, 28-20.
Petrella made 19 saves, while Wolberg was credited with 24 saves.