Photo courtesy of Sandra Wong Geroux: Suffern fans show great sportsmanship as the Tigers celebrate a goal by Will Payne ’17.
Coming into the 2016-17 season, both Mamaroneck and Suffern were recovering from major losses on their rosters. By season’s end, however, both teams were able to quell any doubts of their success by locking up the top two seeds in Division 1. Successful playoff runs have further proved both teams mettle, and they now find themselves playing each other in the section final for the second year in a row.
The matchup will be a renewal of Section 1’s greatest hockey rivalry, with both a section championship and regional berth on the line. The stage is set for Sunday, here’s what you need to know.
Who: #1 Mamaroneck (20-1-1) vs. #2 Suffern (14-7-1)
What: Section 1 DI Championship Game
Where: Brewster Ice Arena
When: Sunday, February 26, at 2pm
How They’ve Gotten Here:
Mamaroneck: Defeated Clarkstown, 4-1, in the sectional quarterfinals and North Rockland, 3-1, in the sectional semifinals.
Suffern: Defeated Scarsdale, 5-3, in the sectional quarterfinals and Mahopac, 5-3, in the sectional semifinals.
How They’ve Fared Against Each Other This Season:
The Tigers knocked off the Mounties, 3-0, at home on Jan. 6, and again, 6-2, at Sport-O-Rama on Feb. 3.
Suffern has, uncharacteristically, scored five goals apiece in each of its playoff games to date. Seeing Tommy Spero in net at the other end of the ice won’t be a reassuring feeling, though, and the Mounties will be hard-pressed to score five times (let alone three or four). Spero has been spectacular in his senior season for the Tigers, posting a 1.09 GAA (goals against average) alongside a .945 save percentage. He has a 15-1-1 record this season and will be looking for career win number 53 on Sunday against a familiar foe.
“We’re feeling great as a team right now,” Spero said following Friday night’s semifinal win. “[The win against North Rockland] was huge, and we have to carry that momentum into the sectional championship. For us to win, we have to be humble and stay focused on executing the game plan.”
Will the third time be the charm for Suffern, or will Mamaroneck get one step closer to its second consecutive state championship?
By Stephen Rothman