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CLIFTON PARK: Mounties beat Plainsmen for second straight year

The Shenendehowa hockey team couldn't solve Suffern's Tommy Natoli.

The junior goaltender stopped 46 of the 48 shots he faced to lead the Mounties to a 4-2 regional win over the Plainsmen Saturday at Clifton Park Arena.

Credit Suffern they hung in there and capitalized on the opportunities that were given to them, and that was the difference," said Shen coach Juan de la Rocha. "Their goaltender was excellent, and we expected that. It didn't surprise me that we only scored two goals, but it did surprise me that we let in four."

The Plainsmen continuously pressured Natoli in the first period with 17 shots while keeping the puck in Suffern's half of the ice for minutes at a time. Junior winger Bryan Hunter scored twice during those flurries to give Shen a 2-0 lead.

The injury bug caught up to the Plainsmen in the first period, too. Senior captain Steve Caruso dislocated his knee cap in the first period and saw limited action before leaving for good with seven minutes left in the third period.

"I think the turning point in the game came half way through the first when Caruso got hurt. He's our senior captain, and our guys lost that jump in our step," said de la Rocha. "It's ironic that it happened because we've been dealing with this all year long. We rely so much on our chemistry, and that was a little speed bump, but those are the things that you've got to fight through. That's adversity.

"We've been doing it all year long (battling injuries), and I guess it was bound to catch up with us," he added.

Nick Clark led Suffern's comeback with three goals, including the tying goal early in the second period. Zach Salt's power play goal at 5:50 of the second period put the Mounties ahead for good.

It was the second straight year that Suffern knocked off Shen in the regionals. The Mounties edged the Plainsmen 3-2 in overtime last season.

"They (the players) were able to fight through everything this season and still get this far. That's a tremendous accomplishment, and I'm really proud of them," de la Rocha said.""

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