Feb. 19, 2017
DIX HILLS, NY – In a hard-fought battle, Ramapo tallied at 1:29 in overtime to take the MCHC crown. It was the first Ramapo ice hockey title in 41 years. The 2016-17 team record of 26-1-0 rivaled the stored record of the 1975-76 “Super Team,” as they were called in the day. Their record was 29-1-3. In some respects, this year’s feat was even more impressive. The Super Team followed on the heels of the 1974-75 championship team. This year’s team was only in its second year of operation after a 31 year hiatus.
Ramapo dominated play from the outset. The Roadrunners were faster and more skilled than the Sharks. With a Suffolk player in the box at 8:49 for tripping, the Ramapo power play went into action. Keith Doherty fired the puck from the blue line. Suffolk’s goalie knocked the puck down but left a rebound that Dan Demarco picked up at the bottom of the circle and wristed the puck past the sprawled goalies’ stick side. Keith Henning and Kyle DeBel assisted on the play. The time of the power play goal was 9:50. Ramapo let Suffolk back in the game with sloppy play in front of the net. The puck was loose and a Suffolk player tapped the puck into the Ramapo net at 16:43 to knot the score at one.
The second period started like the first. Ramapo dominated play but could not put the puck past a hot Suffolk goalie. Sloppy defensive Ramapo play in the latter part of the period again proved to be very costly. Ramapo goalie Keith Gay was screened by one of his defenseman and never saw the shot from the top of the circle. The Sharks took the lead at 15:40 of the second period. Before Ramapo could regroup, a giveaway in the slot resulted in Suffolk’s third goal just one minute later. A cocky Sharks team took a 3-1 lead into the locker room.
Ramapo would cut the Suffolk lead to 3-2 at 8:23 of the third period when Henning fired a shot from the right past the Suffolk goalie. Suffolk tried to sit on their lead which ultimately led to their downfall. Ramapo had good scoring opportunities but the Suffolk goalie kept coming up big. Ramapo continued to put pressure in the offensive zone. Suffolk would take a tripping penalty with 2:55 left in regulation time. Once again the Ramapo power play went to work. Demarco shot the puck from the left side about 25 feet out. The Sharks’ goalie made the save but once again left a rebound. Bobby Spetz was ten feet out and banged home the rebound. The score was tied at three. The game was almost lost with 1:22 remaining in regulation time when Henning went off for hooking. However, the penalty kill unit was up for the task and kept the Sharks from getting off a good shot. The third period ended with the score knotted at three sending the game in a four-on-four 20 minute sudden death period. This was the second game in a row that Suffolk played an overtime game. They eliminated Fordham the night before 7-6.
With Henning still in the penalty box for another 32 seconds, Ramapo had to hold off Suffolk with only three skaters. The tide quickly changed when Henning got back on the ice. With both teams at full strength Suffolk took a devastating tripping penalty just 18 seconds later. Now Ramapo went on a 4-on-3 offensive. Demarco won the face off to the right faceoff circle. Debel picked up the puck and passed to Henning at the right point. Henning threw the puck over to his defensive partner Doherty at the left point. Doherty passed back to Henning who hit DeBel at the right faceoff dot. DeBel waltzed in uncontested and buried the puck under the crossbar. It was a Ramapo’s third power play goal of the game.
The magical season ended with a league championship. A crowning achievement for a second year team.