By MIKE SMITH
Just a few weeks ago, Mamaroneck hockey coach Mike Chiapparelli was waiting for his young team to turn the corner offensively in order to pose a credible threat in the Division 1 playoffs. Now, after a handful of solid games, it looks as though the Tigers are right where they want to be as the postseason looms.
Since beating Sleepy Hollow 10-2 on Jan. 18, the Tigers have begun to find their offensive rhythm, winning three of their last four games to improve their record to 7-10 on the season. In that time, Mamaroneck has outscored its opponents by a 20-7 margin. Even in the team’s 1-0 loss to White Plains on Jan. 25, the improved Tiger offense was on display as Mamaroneck outshot their opponents 32-15 and generally controlled the pace of the game.
“We’ve worked really hard to get better chances and we’re starting to see that,” Chiapparelli said of his team’s play over the last two weeks. “Putting 30 shots on goal, playing good defensively; we’ve only given up five goals in the last three games.”
Mamaroneck is currently 3-2 against league opponents, but Chiapparelli is confident that the heavy workload against out-of-section powerhouse teams, including Ithaca and Rome Free Academy, will pay off once the postseason rolls around.
“Sure, we’d love to be 15-2 right now, but we do have a young team,” the head coach said. “But we’ve only played one team with a .500 record on the season, and I think that we definitely have benefitted from that type of schedule.”
That grueling schedule sees no sign of letting up as the Tigers enter the home stretch They will take on rival Suffern–who currently holds the best record in Division 1–in the season finale. If the Tigers can pick up a few wins over the course of the next few games, they could improve their playoff seeding and possibly come away with a four-seed.
“These games are almost like the playoffs,” Chiapparelli said. “It’s going to prepare us.”
The Tigers began the home stretch against Rye on Feb. 4, after press time. The Garnets, like the Tigers, have played a tough out-of-section schedule and are looking to find that extra gear for the postseason.
“Looking at that matchup, they’ve got some very good forwards,” Chiapparelli said. “But right now, our defense is playing really well, so if we are just going to try to keep up that defensive play.”