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MONSEY, N.Y. — The gap between Suffern and the rest of Section 1 looked pretty sizable on Friday evening at Sport-O-Rama.
The Mounties cruised to a 6-0 win over visiting Mamaroneck — a traditional D-1 sectional title contender — and made it look all too easy.
Suffern completely owned the ice, outshooting the Tigers by a lopsided count of 46-12. If not for the spectacular play of goalie Brett Poniros (40 saves), Mamaroneck could have easily suffered a double-digit shutout loss.
Such an outcome has become an unfortunate reality for all three Section 1 teams — Nyack/Tappan Zee, North Rockland and Mamaroneck — that have faced Suffern this season. The Mounties (6-1) outscored the trio by a combined total of 31-0.
Poniros offered up his explanation for the dominance.
“(Suffern) has great team speed and overall I think it is their positioning,” he said. “They are always in the right spot and know exactly where they are supposed to be on every single play. That's tough to defend. When we get tired and they are always in the right spot, it is hard to defend against them.”
And nobody was more spot-on than Suffern captain Willie Sanchez. The senior forward was virtually unstoppable, registering a team-high five points (3G, 2A) to power the offense.
Sanchez opened the scoring with 5:02 left in the first period, bagging a power-play goal off a setup from Ian Adler and Kevin Haggerty. It was the first of two power-play goals for the Mounties, who committed zero penalties to Mamaroneck's four. Adler cashed in on the second man-up opportunity, pouncing on a rebound in front to make it 4-0 with 2:45 left in the second period.
“You have to capitalize on your opportunities — especially on a man-up situation,” said Sanchez, who setup junior forward Nick Jaeger to make it 2-0 with 3:07 left in the opening period. “It is very important. We have been practicing a lot on the power play and it really hadn't been clicking in the past, but today it worked out well.”
On the whole, there was little that didn't work out in Suffern's favor. The Mounties were steady and punishing on defense, rarely letting Mamaroneck gain any semblance of possession in the offensive zone. Goalie Tyler Stark (12 saves) didn't exactly have to bend over backwards to record the shutout.
After missing the previous four games with an ankle injury, Suffern assistant captain Steven Scholer returned to commandeer the unit.
“We did a good job breaking the puck out and we worked well together down low,” Scholer said.
The senior defenseman also flashed his Brian Leecth-like versatility with a pair of assists — both of which went to Sanchez. The duo combined for the game's final goal with 3:04 left in the third period. Deflecting the praise, Scholer pointed to the play of his counterpart.
“(Sanchez) always knows where to be and how to bury the puck,” Scholer said. “He hits, he back-checks and does everything that a great player has to do.”
Like most great players, Sanchez has refused to let complacency creep into the 2011-12 season.
“There's definitely room for improvement,” said Sanchez, who highlighted Suffern's lone loss this year against arch-nemesis West Genesee. “This isn't where want to be in March when it really matters. But we are making progress and that's all that matters.”
For the rest of Section 1, that has to be a pretty scary proposition.
GAME NOTES: Sanchez leads Suffern in scoring with an even 10 goals and 10 assists … Suffern has won three straight since suffering a 3-2 loss to West Genesee on December 3. The Mounties have combined to outscore the opposition 25-0 during the three-game streak, topping Monroe-Woodbury, North Rockland and Mamaroneck … Junior forward Nick Jaeger, the younger brother of 2010 captain Jake Jaeger, has exploded for seven goals in his last three games.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Suffern cashes in on the power play, stays out of the box: The Mounties converted two of their four power plays, including one that gave them an early 1-0 advantage. Suffern also stayed out of the box, crippling Mamaroneck offense that was in dire need of a spark.
2. Shots aplenty for Suffern, not so for Mamaroneck: Mamaroneck goalie Brett Poniros said he fully expected the ice to double as a firing range on Saturday night. And Suffern's explosive offense didn't disappoint, unleashing a total of 46 shots on the game. To his credit, Poniros was up to the task, making at least 10 jaw-dropping saves that kept the score from getting too out of hand. In contrast, Mamaroneck's offense struggled to get much of anything going, popping off just 12 shots. “We need to get more shots on net,” Poniros said. “We need to crash the net and find a way to create some offense.”
3. Suffern's speed too much: The Mounties have a bit of a different look this year, mirroring the style of captain Willie Sanchez. As a team, they a little bit undersized, however, they make up for it with lightning-quick skates and a fearless approach. It was almost a forgone conclusion that loose pucks were going to get gobbled up by the Mounties, who played in a gear that Mamaroneck could never quite match. Head coach Rob Schelling said this year's team definitely had an edge in the speed department. “That's one of our strengths,” senior defenseman Steve Scholer said. “We have a bunch of fast kids and that helps us out a lot on the offensive end.”
SF (5:02) Willie Sanchez from Ian Adler and Kevin Haggerty | 1-0 SF *
SF (3:07) Nick Jaeger from Sanchez | 2-0 SF
SF (14:05) Sanchez from Steve Scholer | 3-0 SF
SF (2:45) Adler from Sanchez and Haggerty | 4-0 SF *
SF (7:51) Justin Tiso from from Anthony Carudo and Adler | 5-0 SF
SF (3:04) Sanchez from Scholer | 6-0 SF
* Indicates power-play goal
Suffern: Willie Sanchez (3G, 2A); Ian Adler (1G, 2A); Kevin Haggerty (2A); Steve Scholer (2A); Nick Jaeger (1G); Justin Tiso (1G); Anthony Carudo (1A)
Mamaroneck: Brett Poniros (40 saves)
Suffern: Tyler Stark (12 saves)
Mamaroneck 4 5 3 12
Suffern 17 15 14 46
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass