Mamaroneck hockey coach Mike Chiapparelli knew heading into Monday night’s Division I quarterfinal game against Clarkstown that if the Tigers were able to score the first goal of the contest, it could go a long way toward a victory.
Little did the Tigers know, however, it would take the entirety of regulation—and a little more than one overtime period—until that first goal finally found the net.
Just 29 seconds into the second overtime period, Mamaroneck’s Jack DeLaet broke a scoreless tie, beating Clarkstown goalie Craig Kunz off passes from Tommy Conley and Michael Torre, giving the Tigers a hard-fought 1-0 win and sending them on to the quarterfinals where they will take on a formidable North Rockland squad.
It may not have exactly been how the No. 2 seed Tigers drew it up, but Chiapparelli was, nonetheless, impressed with the way his team kept competing throughout over 50 minutes of game time.
“I said all day beforehand that I just hope we get one goal, because their best player is their goalie,” he said. “And it took us a long time to get that goal, but we eventually got it.”
Mamaroneck controlled the action for much of the game, allowing only nine shots on goalie Jack Fried who picked up the shutout victory. But the Tigers skaters had a hard time solving Kunz, who made 32 saves. Chiapparelli commended Kunz for his performance but also acknowledged that earning a first-round bye may have had some adverse effects on his own team’s rhythm.
“Clarkstown played last week, they already had a playoff win under their belt and they were loose and confident,” Chiapparelli said. “A lot of our guys don’t have that much playoff experience, we were the higher seed, so it was really like the pressure was on us.”
With the victory, the Tigers have that first taste of playoff experience out of the way and will look to build upon their momentum when they host No. 5 North Rockland on Feb. 21, after press time. The Tigers and Red Raiders squared off on Jan. 26, with Mamaroneck edging the visitors 2-1 in another overtime battle. North Rockland is coming off a 4-2 quarterfinal round win over Scarsdale in which junior phenom Eric Dunn scored all four goals for the victors.
Chiapparelli says neutralizing the speed of both Dunn and center Jake Morris will be an area of concern for the Tigers on Thursday.
“They’ve got two stud players in Dunn and Morris and they are especially good when you’re a man down,” the coach said. “We need to put pressure on them, make them take penalties, because I think they will.”