December 21, 2002
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Ramapo rebuilding? Yeah, right

Saturday, December 21, 2002

By Jim McConville Staff Writer

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Jonathan Phelps made 18 saves to help keep Ramapo unbeaten for the season.

HACKENSACK - This was going to be the year that the Ramapo ice hockey team rebuilt its squad into a contender. With only three seniors on the rosters, the Raiders were being touted as a team to watch in 2003-04.

Somebody forgot to tell the players, though. Or maybe they just changed the year on the calendar. Whatever the circumstances, this Raider team has defied the odds over the first three weeks of the season.

They came into Friday night's game with Fair Lawn at 5-0-1, and when it was over, the Raiders had pinned the first loss of the year on the Cutters and drew first blood in the battle between the two teams that figure to seriously contend for Northern Conference White Division supremacy.

Despite a sloppy end to the first period, Ramapo came up with a pair of quick second period goals that broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Raiders on the way to a 6-4 victory that pushed their conference record to 4-0-1 and opened up a 3-point lead on the 3-1 Cutters.

"Championships are not won in December," first-year Fair Lawn head coach Cory Robinson said after the loss. "They won the first battle in the war, but we'll be ready for them the next time (January 18th)."

Ramapo's Robbie Rosenhaus assisted on the game's first goal just 33 seconds after it started.

While titles are a long way off, the Raiders are much further along than anyone would have expected, including head coach Don Quarles, who said that, "we certainly didn't expect the kind of start we've had, but the kids have played well in close games.

"Fair Lawn was a quality opponent, and when we let the 2-0 lead slip away, it could have spelled trouble, but we've reacted well to crisis situations so far, and they didn't panic. Coming out and getting the two quick ones in the second period showed that."

Ramapo had started quick, as freshman Matti Makela scored just 33 seconds into the game, off assists from Rob Rosenhaus and Scott Martin. It was the fourth goal of the season for Makela, one of four freshman who see ice time.
The Raiders scored again with 2:51 left in the opening period, as sophomore Shawn Lugo poked one home off assists from Rosenhaus and Makela. When Fair Lawn took a penalty seconds later, it looked like a golden opportunity for the Raiders, but the Cutters responded.

Fair Lawn's Nick Ferrante, tangling with Ramapo's Edwin Choi (26) along the boards.

Dan Cohen wasted little time after the penalty, popping in a shorthanded score 11 seconds into the 5 on 4 disadvantage. He converted off assists from senior Dan Woodall and Mike Teytelbaum. The goal put a spark in the Cutters, who then cashed in a power play to tie the score.

Ramapo was guilty of a bad clearing pass, as Woodall took the puck and moved it to Nick Ferrante, who found Skyler Insler in front for thetrying goal with one second left in the first period.

"Too many giveaways in the defensive zone," Quarles lamented. "We gave them the chances to get back in the game and they did."

Rosenhaus, a junior, then put Ramapo ahead for good with his ninth goal of the season 1:58 into the middle period off an assist from Lugo, and freshman Matt Pecoraro scored 55 seconds later on assists from Kaream Eraiba and Sean Bandazian to regain the two-goal lead for the Raiders.

The score remained that way into the third period, as Ramapo continued to keep Woodall (six goals in the first three games, 50 last year) from getting a clean shot. Quarles explained that, "we didn't shadow him with one or two guys, but we didn't want to let him get a clean skate up ice. He is so fast, and I think we did a good job of containing him."

Ramapo's Shawn Lugo backhanding home a goal with 2:51 left in the opening period.

Woodall did pick up a third assists as Fair Lawn crept within 4-3 with 9:27 left in the game, taking a Dan Oniszczuk pass and feeding Joe Bonafede for the score. The Cutters all but gave it back, though, as they took a penalty and Ramapo capitalized for a 5-3 lead.

Lugo broke through down the wing and circled in front of the net, scoring an unassisted tally, his 12th of the season, with 7:43 remaining.

Woodall notched his seventh of the season, finally breaking away down the wing and slapping one from in front that beat Jonathan Phelps with 4:17 to go in the game. Fair Lawn pulled its goalie, Mike Kaplan, with a minute to go, but John Sedlack picked up a loose puck in center ice and shot one into the empty net with 46 ticks on the clock, his 10th goal of the season and the clincher.

"We played in spurts," said Robinson, who lead Hudson Catholic to the outright state title in 2000. "We had five or six good minutes, then three or four bad ones. We fought hard, especially after going down early, but every time we got back in it, we'd go to sleep and they caught us."

Fair Lawn goalie Mike Kaplan turned away 19 Ramapo shots.

Phelps had 18 saves in the game and Kaplan turned aside 19 shots. Phelps made his best saves with four minutes left when he stoned the Cutters twice on the doorstep.

Ramapo has now scored 42 goals in its seven games, a neat six per outing, and that is the area that Quarles is most surprised about, saying that, "we lost 91 of our 134 goals last year to graduation, and the big question we had was where are the goals going to come from.

"The young guys have really stepped it up so far, but it is a long season, and hopefully this (goal scoring) continues."

As Robinson said, titles aren't won in December. Information Box:

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