New Ro' stuns Clarkstown at buzzer
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WEST NYACK, N.Y. — After losing all-world forward Richie Prunesti to graduation, not much was expected of New Rochelle's hockey squad in 2011-12.
Against the odds, the Huguenots have still found a way to deliver.
Friday's thrilling 3-2 win over Clarkstown (6-7) at Palisades Center Ice Rink was yet another example of it. New Rochelle (10-4) — which was outshot 30-19 and outmuscled all over the ice — hung around long enough to steal it.
Chris Ramondelli provided the late-game heroics, netting the game-winning goal as time expired in regulation. The junior forward had missed on a breakaway just seven seconds earlier, resulting in a full range of emotions.
“I was pretty angry when I missed the breakaway, but the puck happened to find me in front,” Ramondelli said. “I missed on the first shot but then got in the rebound. It was a really big goal.”
The wild sequence was a direct result of New Rochelle's never-say-die attitude. After starting the season 3-3, the Huguenots have snapped back to win seven of their past eight. They are currently ranked third behind ETB and Suffern in the Section 1 Division 1 standings.
“Everybody held their breath when Chris got the breakaway, but then he didn't make it,” Huguenots coach Jim Tozzo said. “But to that whole line's credit they didn’t quit on it and played it right to the buzzer. Sometimes, you get lucky with those.”
Clarkstown coach Andrew Trust bemoaned his team's execution on the final play.
“(New Rochelle) put that guy (Ramondelli) high in the defensive zone and the minute the puck turned over he was gone,” Trust said. “If you aren't going to pay attention to all the people on the ice, you probably shouldn't be on the ice. It was inexcusable.”
Trust's displeasure was understandable. On the smaller Palisades ice surface, the matchup was tailor made for physically superior Clarkstown. In theory, they were supposed to bludgeon the smaller Huguenots into submission. For much of the game, that's exactly what happened.
Clarkstown (6-7) — which controlled the tempo throughout — was especially dominant in the second period. It outshot New Rochelle 14-7 during the stretch and netted both of its goals. Brett Chase struck with the equalizer at 10:01 and Mitch Lesueur tallied the go-ahead goal at 5:54. At that point, a Clarkstown victory seemed imminent. A bruised and battered New Rochelle didn't look capable of lasting another punishing round.
But the Huguenots, who grabbed a 1-0 first-period lead on a Nick Sioufas goal, proved to be more resilient than Sly Stallone in "Rocky IV."
“(Clarkstown's) physical play did slow us down a little big, but we just kept working,” Ramondelli said.
New Rochelle was rewarded with 4:50 left in the second period, as Andre Vigroux scored the game-tying goal off one of its many odd-man rushes. For Clarkstown, it was a frustratingly familiar sight.
“(New Rochelle) had those odd-man rushes all game,” Trust said. “We were trying to stop them, but if you don't backcheck you aren't going to stop them — and that's what killed us.”
In New Rochelle's case, what didn't kill it simply made it stronger.
GAME NOTES: New Rochelle coach Jim Tozzo said key forward Mark Umbro missed the game due to a fractured vertebrae in his lower back. Tozzo expected Umbro back on the ice in four to five weeks … Chris Ramondelli leads New Rochelle in scoring with 33 points on 19 goals and 14 assists, while Mitch Lesueur leads Clarkstown with 28 points (16G, 12A) … New Rochelle defeated Clarkstown, 4-2, last season … Heading into Friday's matchup, Clarkstown had scored four-plus goals in five straight games.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. New Ro' cashes in on odd-man rushes: The Huguenots hurt Clarkstown with its speed, breaking out in transition to create the bulk of its offensive chances. New Rochelle's final two goals came off odd-man rushes.
2. Crossbar denies Clarkstown: Clarkstown played its best hockey in the second period, scoring both its goals as it outshot New Rochelle 14-7. Unfortunately, two missed shots came back to bite them. Clarkstown dinged two key chances off the crossbar, which ultimately kept New Rochelle in the game. Coach Andrew Trust had this to say about it: “That seems to be our MO all season. All season long we haven't outshot one team. We outshot this team and controlled play most of the game. They had the odd-man rushes, but that's about the only time it was in our zone. We controlled play in their zone and we couldn't finish.”
3. Huguenots double as chameleons: Without Richie Prunesti to carry the load, New Rochelle has been forced to think outside the box. Coach Jim Tozzo explained how the Huguenots have adjusted: “We are doing a little of this and a little of that. We are changing it up and aren't giving anyone a chance to read us well. We change things from game to game and we are playing a little bit more of a laid back forecheck. That throws a lot of teams off in this league, but you have to take advantage of your opportunities. Most of the time we have been.”
New Rochelle: 1 1 1 3
Clarkstown: 0 2 0 2
NR (10:37) Nick Sioufas from Brett Barry and John Valente | 1-0 NR
CL (10:01) Brett Chase from Mike Gillespie and Mitch Lesueur | 1-1
CL (5:54) Lesueur from Gillespie and Derek Montana | 2-1 CL
NR (4:50) Andre Vigroux from Jason Millan | 2-2
NR (0:01) Chris Ramondelli unassisted | 3-2 NR
New Rochelle: Nick Sioufas (1G); Chris Ramondelli (1G); Andre Vigroux (1G); Brett Barry (1A); John Valente (1A); Jason Millan (1A)
Clarkstown: Mitch Lesueur (1G, 1A); Mike Gillespie (2A); Brett Chase (1G); Derek Montana
New Rochelle: Greg Feliu (28 saves)
Clarkstown: Jonathan Chin (16 saves)
New Rochelle: 5 7 7 19
Clarkstown: 7 14 9 30
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass