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It’s one thing to have a wealth of dependable lines and reliable defensive pairings, but to have a backup goalie that’s one of the best in the country for his age?
Filling in for all-state goalie Tyler Stark, Suffern sophomore Nick Modica posted a shutout Friday night against one of the premier teams in the area.
“He’s an incredible young man,” Suffern coach Rob Schelling said. “He’s our backup and he played so well. His hard work in practice shows in a game like today. He’s so mature and knows his place.”
Now that’s what you call depth.
Modica, making his second start of the season, stopped all 18 shots he faced in a 6-0 victory over Monroe-Woodbury at Sport-O-Rama. The sophomore’s stellar play in the first period kept the game scoreless until Suffern’s offense began to convert on its chances.
“I made a couple of saves,” said Modica, who was told earlier in the week that he would make the start. “That got us going."
Off a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Willie Sanchez cashed in on a Greg Dgheim centering feed in the 13th minute for a 1-0 lead. Less than thirty seconds later, Suffern (4-1) extended its lead when Sanchez set up Nick Jaeger on a 2-on-1 advantage after a takeaway in the neutral zone.
“Once we saw the first one go in,” Jaeger said. “We tried to bury [our opponent].”
The Mounties – ranked No. 1 in the MSG Varsity Hudson Valley power rankings – held onto the momentum and scored twice in both the second and third period. Jaeger finished with a hat-trick and an assist. Sanchez notched five points (2G, 3A) to give the forward 11 on the season. That ties Sanchez for the team lead with Ian Adler, who had an assist on Kevin Haggert’s goal.
But the night belonged to Modica.
The sophomore said he felt and saw the puck well and he especially did so early, making 11 saves before the first intermission. Although Modica wasn’t challenged as much over the duration of the game, stops on two Crusader breakaways– one in the second period with the game still in the balance and another in the closing seconds – preserved the shutout.
“Every week we work on breakaways, so it’s routine by now for me,” Modica said.
Monroe-Woodbury (5-1), the fifth ranked team in the MSG Varsity regional hockey power rankings, mustered just seven shots after the first period and finished 0-4 on the power-play. Goalie Zack Zielinski made 19 saves.
Modica will continue to serve as the backup, but Schelling says his sophomore standout deserves to play. For now, he’s one of the best kept secrets on Section 1’s best team.
“I lot of people don’t know about him,” Schelling said. “It’s unfortunate.”
GAME NOTES: The usual starter in net, Tyler Stark, got a scheduled night off. The senior has a 1.12 GAA in three starts… Suffern bounced back from its only loss of the young season. The Mounties fell in the Wildcat Classic championship to host West Genesee… Suffern swept two games from Monroe-Woodbury last year, including a state tournament matchup.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Mounties’ Modica: The sophomore goalie made double-digit saves in the opening period keeping the game scoreless until Suffern’s offense capitalized.
2. Crusaders’ empty power-plays: Monroe-Woodbury had back-to-back power plays and even a two-man advantage for 32 seconds in the early stages of the game with no return.
3. Winning the puck: Suffern won about 70-percent of the faceoffs, none more important than the possession win that led to the first goal.
Suffern (13:23) Willie Sanchez from Greg Dgheim | 1-0 Suffern
Suffern (13:51) Nick Jaeger from Sanchez | 2-0 Suffern
Suffern (3:06) Jaeger from Sanchez | 3-0 Suffern
Suffern (7:38) Kevin Haggerty from Ian Adler | 4-0 Suffern*
Suffern (5:47) Jaeger from Sanchez | 5-0 Suffern
Suffern (8:21) Sanchez from Jaeger | 6-0 Suffern
*Indicates power-play goal
Suffern: Willie Sanchez (2G, 3A); Nick Jaeger (3G, 1G); Kevin Haggerty (1G); Greg Dgheim (1A); Ian Adler (1A)
Monroe-Woodbury: Zack Zielinski (19 saves)
Suffern: Nick Modica (18 saves)
SHOTS ON GOAL
Monroe-Woodbury 11 5 2 - 18
Suffern 5 9 11 - 25
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