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Sunday, March 3, 2019: Suffern rallies late, survives shootout to advance

   Leading off today: On a scale of 1 to 10 for improbable victories in a hockey game, Suffern registered a 12 on Saturday in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II quarterfinals.

   The Mounties scored twice in the final minute of regulation, endured four scoreless overtimes and won a marathon shootout round on the strength of goalie Mike Halper's four saves to defeat Bethlehem 4-3.

   "Coming back to win a game like that is unbelievable," Halper said. "Nobody wanted the season to end and it showed."

   Suffern's Kyle Foresta set up Tom McCarren for a goal with 56.8 seconds to play in regulation. The Mounties' Ryan Schelling was cross-checked after the play and crashed into Bethlehem goalie Michael Kurdziolek, who was shaken up and sent to the bench. Backup goalie Heikki Levasalmi made a couple of stops as Suffern poured on the pressure, but Schelling cashed in a rebound with :11.8 to play to tie the score at 3-3.

   Kurdziolek was cleared to return for overtime, which amounted to half a hour of scoreless action on the part of both teams, but the sophomore suffered a leg injury in a collision in the first round of the shootout to determine which team would advance.

   The first three-round shootout ended tied 1-1 and the next round was scoreless. Max Werful scored for Suffern in the top half of the next frame, putting Halper on center stage with a berth in the semifinals on the line.

   "The ref came down after Max scored and I asked him, 'So if they don't score right now we get the win, correct?'" Halper said. "He told me, 'Yeah, that's correct.' So I said, 'Well, they're not scoring.'"

   Suffern's opponent Saturday in Buffalo will be Canton, a 7-2 winner over Monroe-Woodbury.

   Sam Martin, who scored four times Monday as the Golden Bears captured the Section 10 championship, scored another four against the Crusaders. Jack Finnerty added one goal and assisted on two more, and Rhett Palmer had a goal and four assists.

   More Division I quarterfinals: Orchard Park was the only one of the three Western New York reps to move on, edging Ithaca 2-1 in overtime on Jack Kinsman's goal.

   The Quakers' opponent Saturday will be Section 3 champion Syracuse, a 2-1 winner over Pittsford.

   The Cougars jumper to a 2-0 lead in the first period against Pittsford on goals by junior Ryan Durand and senior Nate Frye, then rose Alex Moreno's 21 saves the rest of the way.

   Syracuse was coming off a four-overtime win against West Genesee in their sectional final.

   "We started out slow in other games, so we knew we had to come out hard today and that lead in the first period really helped us out," Frye said.

   Division II quarterfinals: Top-ranked Skaneateles rolled past Grand Island 4-0 as Jack Henry scored twice and the Lakers posted their fifth shutout of the season.

   Skaneateles goalie Adam Casper recorded 17 saves, and Ryan Gick's first-period goal was all the support he would need.


   The Lakers' semifinal opponent at HarborCenter on Saturday will be second-ranked Webster Thomas, a 4-1 winner over Norwood-Norfolk.

   Thomas' Zack Wolfe finished with two goals and an assist. The Flyers scored in the first period, but the Titans tied and outshot Norwood-Norfolk 15-3 in the second period while scoring three times to break the game open.

   Senior Cody Rougeux turned aside 17 shots in the win.

   The other Division II semifinal will pair John Jay Cross River and Queensbury.

   JJCR avenged a loss in the 2018 state semifinals by blanking West Seneca West 3-0 on the strength of Eric Sasimovich's 32 saves.

   "Eric has been inspirational this season for us," Indians junior forward Jack Browne said. "He stepped up from not having any role at all last season to being the heart and soul of our team."

   Playing for the first time in 16 days, Queensbury surrendered the first goal but then went on to eliminate Plattsburgh 6-1. Jack Randall's first of two goals tied the game, then Brendan Duffy (two goals) scored shorthanded in the second period to put Queensbury ahead for good.

   Owen Smith stopped 20 of 21 shots.

   CHSAA hockey: St. Joseph's routed Fordham Prep 9-1 to win the Catholic High School Athletic Association championship for the 12th time.

   Kellen Pulera scored twice on putbacks in a four-minute span of the first period to help break the contest open.

   NYSPHSAA cheerleading: Section 5's stranglehold on the championships in competitive cheerleading came to an end in the fourth annual event.

   Section 5 had won 13 of a possible 15 team titles in three years, including sweeps the past two seasons, but Section 11 hauled away three of the five championships Saturday at Rochester Institute of Technology.

   In Division I, Sachem North (large teams) and Rocky Point (small) won top honors. In Division II, Mount Sinai finished first among large schools.

   The other champions were Lewiston-Porter in Division II small teams and Webster Thomas in the co-ed classification.

   NYSPHSAA gymnastics: Frontier seventh-grader Lea Philarom won the all-around championship in the state meet at Cold Spring Harbor.

   Philarom compiled 38.125 points en route to second-place finishers on floor exercise and the balance beam. She was third on the uneven bars.

   Eighth-grader Ava Schiff of Williamsville South took second in the all-around with 37.900 points and won the balance beam. Teammate Reilly Gruttadauria, an eighth-grader who tied for seventh in the all-around, set a state record with a 9.90 in the vault.

   The full meet results are available here.

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