Ice hockey: Ex-forward/current goalie Mallinson helps give Witz his 500th win at Pelham

·4 min read

Prior to Wednesday's clash between Pelham, the No. 1-ranked small-school ice hockey team in the state and No. 4-ranked Rye, Pelham coach Ed Witz compared the schools' rivalry to Ali-Frazier.

Wednesday's game hardly lived up to that.

But its story line was, nevertheless, engrossing.

In routing the previously-undefeated Garnets 7-0 at Playland, Pelham gave Witz his 500th career win with the Pelicans, whom he started coaching in 1984-85.

And Witz earned that win with a player in goal who went into the preseason as a forward.

Jack Mallinson kept up his strong play, stopping 21 shots to record the shutout.

But before the season started the junior was slated to play out for Pelham's junior varsity.

That was before some Pelham varsity players, remembering how good Mallinson had been as a goalie in grade school, convinced him to put on the pads and Witz to take a look at him between the pipes.

In short order, Mallinson, who last played in net at age 10, was the Pelican starting keeper.

With Wednesday's win, Mallinson is 5-1-1 for 8-2-2 Pelham.

But Mallinson wasn't focusing on his record after Wednesday's game but on winning for Witz.

"The 500th win, it's really unbelievable to get it now. We were looking forward to this game all year," Mallinson said, noting he has looked up to Witz since he was first playing youth hockey.

Turning point

Wednesday's game didn't turn on a Mallinson stop.

Rather, Pelham, which seemed a step or two faster than Rye, took advantage of Rye's early inability to stay out of the penalty box to build a three-goal cushion.

Ben Rosenberg, who had two goals and two assists, opened the scoring for Pelham early in the first period with the Pelicans on a 5-on-3 advantage.

Will Crotty of Pelham scores on Rye's Anabelle Thomas  during a varsity hockey game against Rye at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye Jan. 19, 2022. Pelham defeated Rye 7-0.
Will Crotty of Pelham scores on Rye's Anabelle Thomas during a varsity hockey game against Rye at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye Jan. 19, 2022. Pelham defeated Rye 7-0.

Less than a minute later, with the Pelicans up one man, Will Crotty beat Rye keeper Anabelle Thomas low to her left to make it 2-0.

Fewer than three minutes into the second period, with Rye with another player in the box, Pelham made it 3-0 on a Henry Smith goal.

"It was definitely not what we were looking for," Rye coach Peter Thomas said, explaining, after that, his team got away from its team-oriented game plan and, with players trying to do too much, was just "chasing the game."

"We unraveled a bit," he said.

Player of the game

Pelham goalie Jack Mallinson makes a save during Pelham's 7-0 win Jan. 19, 2022 over Rye at Playland Ice Casino. Mallinson had 21 saves for the game.
Pelham goalie Jack Mallinson makes a save during Pelham's 7-0 win Jan. 19, 2022 over Rye at Playland Ice Casino. Mallinson had 21 saves for the game.

Things might have been different, however, had Mallinson not been so solid with his team up 2-0 in the opening minute of the second period.

Mallinson, who took top game honors, made three big stops to keep the momentum arrow pointing in the Pelicans' direction before Rye took another penalty and Smith scored off a Rosenberg assist.

"I think it all started with the first goal. We just came out faster than they did," said Mallinson, who had hung up his pads in fourth grade after becoming enamored with the idea of scoring.

By the numbers

Pelham celebrates its second goal during a varsity hockey game against Rye at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye Jan. 19, 2022. Pelham defeated Rye 7-0.
Pelham celebrates its second goal during a varsity hockey game against Rye at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye Jan. 19, 2022. Pelham defeated Rye 7-0.

Wednesday, he left the scoring to his teammates, who outshot Rye 17-6 in the first period.

Louie Marcellino, who's having a huge offensive year for Pelham, scored in both the second and third periods.

Smith, who had the Pelicans' final score late in the third period, also had a pair of goals.

Eric Elbery had three assists, Jordan Hurd and Zyde Karame both had two assists and Luke Green and Griffin Evans each had one assist.

Anabelle Thomas had 27 saves and Patrick Myers, who replaced her late in the game, had four.

Witz, who praised Peter Thomas's coaching, Rye's goaltending and the Garnet players as a whole for "not giving up," even when down 7-0, chalked the win up to his team showing "a lot of speed, good anticipation and getting to all the loose pucks."

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Quotables

Pelham celebrates its first goal during a varsity hockey game against Rye at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye Jan. 19, 2022. Pelham defeated Rye 7-0.
Pelham celebrates its first goal during a varsity hockey game against Rye at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye Jan. 19, 2022. Pelham defeated Rye 7-0.

Witz, who only recently learned he was on the cusp of 500 wins, noted he didn't broadcast it because he didn't want to distract from the season his team is having.

Witz, who said, "The kids were happy" to get him the milestone win, noted this year's squad, which ended Skaneateles' 65-game winning streak earlier this month, is the most talented he has had since his 2017 state championship team.

"I've got amazing skill guys and guys who just do what they're asked," Witz said.

And, of course, he has an unexpected star in the making in Mallinson.

Of Mallinson's transformation back to goalie and of his success, Witz said, "It's one of those storybook things."

"He asked to come out and put the pads on and the rest is history," he said.

Mallinson, who pointed to his defense as having played "insane" in front of him Wednesday, still seems a little surprised by it all.

"It's all been unbelievable," he said. "These last seven weeks have been nothing that could have been predicted,"

Next up

Rye, now 10-1-1, will host Rye Country Day at 6 p.m. Monday at Playland.

Nancy Haggerty covers cross-country, track & field, field hockey, skiing, ice hockey, girls lacrosse and other sporting events for The Journal News/lohud. Follow her on Twitter at both @HaggertyNancy and at @LoHudHockey.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Ice hockey: Coach Ed Witz gets 500th win as Pelham blanks Rye 7-0

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