To some high school athletes, there is a big difference between being a starter and watching the beginning of a game from the bench.
Senior forward Matt Peretti, though, understands there are more pressing concerns for the Niskayuna/Schenectady hockey team, such as finding some chemistry as a team, and within each line combination.
He was dropped from the first line to the second Saturday to make room for Kevin Canty, who was bumped up to the top line after his solid recent play. Instead of getting hung up on what some would view as a demotion, though, Peretti saw it as another chemistry experiment.
The Mohawks lost a non-league game Saturday to Section I’s Pearl River, 5-2, but Peretti’s high-energy play made his line with Josh Kim and Lorenzo Cotugno the team’s most dangerous trio.
“I was playing with Josh and Lorenzo last year, and that seemed to work well,” Peretti said. “We lacked scoring [Friday] night, so we tried to switch it up, which seemed to help a lot today.”
After Friday’s 3-2 loss to Glens Falls/Hudson Falls/South Glens Falls, in which the Mohawks were outshot, 28-11, they came out firing against the Pirates and finished with a 31-22 shot advantage.
“This was a big improvement,” Peretti said, “and we more than doubled our shots, but it’s still the little things we need to work on — bearing down, down low, and figuring out which line combinations work best.”
Much of Pearl River’s scoring came in transition, thanks to the speed of Max McGee and Kevin Murphy. McGee finished a hat trick with an empty-net goal late in the third period, and Murphy had the other two goals. Mohawks goalie James Blanchfield made 17 saves.
The Mohawks (2-5) had their chances, but had trouble beating Pearl River goalie Sam Coughlin, who finished with 29 saves.
Canty forced a turnover early in the first period and carried it into the zone, but couldn’t get off a strong enough shot to beat Coughlin. Trailing,
2-1, in the third, Trevor Carrol got loose for a short-handed breakaway, forced Coughlin to commit early before trying a backhand at the left post, but Coughlin stretched back for a pad save.
Peretti finished the period on a high note, getting in on a rush with 15 seconds left, but he couldn’t convert with his backhand. Then 10 seconds later, he slid a pass in front of the goal, but couldn’t connect with a teammate.
Just 30 seconds into the second period, it was Peretti again skating to the back door, taking a crossing pass, but he was unable to get his backhand shot on goal. He finished that period, too, trying to create a transition chance, but ran out of time.
Just 36 seconds into the third, Peretti skated in and beat Coughlin, stick-side, while crossing the slot to pull the Mohawks within a goal at 2-1. At 7:38, Cotugno again pulled the Mohawks within a goal at 3-2. They just couldn’t find the equalizer.
“They’re a talented bunch, and when they jell, they know they can score,” Mohawks coach Sean O’Connell said. “I think we’re gripping our sticks too tight and waiting for the perfect play to open up. You saw a couple times when we were cycling the puck and when we were on the puck, we would circle back and set up in front of the net, we were doing exactly what we can do, but we just couldn’t convert there. I think if we pop a couple of those in, it’s a different game.”
Pearl River 1 1 3 — 5
Niskayuna/Schenectady 0 0 2 — 2
First Period — 1, Pearl River, Kevin Murphy (Michael Galgano), 1:02.
Second Period — 2, Pearl River, Max McGee (Galgano, Owen McGee), 11:49.
Third Period — 3, Niskayuna/Schenectady, Matt Peretti (Lorenzo Cotugno), :36. 4, Pearl River, M. McGee, 5:46. 5, Niskayuna/Schenectady, Cotugno (Cole Nowak, Josh Kim), 7:38. 6, Pearl River, K. Murphy (Brian Caffrey), 9:56. 7, Pearl River, M. McGee (Thomas Murphy, Liam Wynne), 13:39 (en).
Goalies — Pearl River, Sam Coughlin (31 shots-29 saves). Niskayuna/Schenectady, James Blanchfield (21-17).
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Categories: High School Sports